Looking back at the contributions of six late, great Toronto residents who passed away in 2009


AS WE EMBARK on a new year, it is important to look back to those who came before us for
guidance and inspiration.

Late in 2009, the city lost one of its most powerful visionaries in David Pecaut, former
head of the Toronto City Summit Alliance and co-founder of the Luminato festival, who
died of cancer at the age of 54. Pecaut’s contributions to the city are too many to name,
but his message was a simple one: There is no end to what this city can grow to become.
Dream big and make it happen. Hopefully, a new generation of civic entrepreneurs will
pick up his rather hefty torch.

In addition, gifted singer and songwriter Haydain Neale passed away, too young at 39
years of age and too full of life. As the singer of Jacksoul, Neale produced beautiful music
that will live on as a reminder of his rare talent.

Goldie Semple was one of the finest actresses to grace the stages of Toronto and
beyond. A classical actress of rare talent, Semple had been a theatrical professional for
close to 30 years, including 17 seasons at the Shaw Festival and nine more at Stratford.
She died at the age of 56.

Also, a nod to legendary filmmaker Allan King. King died at the age of 79 at his home
in Toronto. King, with 50 years of filmmaking under his belt, was considered a leader in
the cinéma-vérité technique and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2002.

Sadly, there is no shortage of names: Doc Lyons, of House of Chan fame, passed away
last year; legendary barman Pat Quinn passed away in 2009, as did CBC mainstay Russ
Germain; Martin Streek, a popular DJ, children’s entertainer “Uncle” Bobby Ash and
young singer Taylor Mitchell. Their memories will remain, as will their efforts to make
Toronto the great city it is today. Efforts that are being carried forward by the next
generation of visionaries, artists and community leaders.

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