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1949 - 2020
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RON TOEWS 1949 - 2020 The family of Gerhard Ronald Toews announces his passing with sad hearts. Ron died suddenly from complications of heart disease and diabetes in his home in Smithers, British Columbia on November 9th. He will be greatly missed by his brother David Toews, his sisters, Julie Schopp and Erica Riggs, his sister-in law Deanna Toews, and his brothers-in-law Gerhard Schopp and David Klaassen. Also mourning are his nieces and nephews: Gwenneth Toews, Eric Toews (Leslie), John Schopp (Leslie), Helen Cluett (Mark), Kristin Sopotiuk (Owen), Marie Slade (Allan), Tim Klaassen (Rita), Rob Klaassen (Jolanta), Cari Klaassen, Adam Klaassen (Susan), Julie Burn (Will), Katie Riggs, and Marion Riggs (Tom), as well as grand-nephews and nieces Sarah and Rosa Olberg, Amira Toews, Sam, Sasha, and Augusta Toews, Hannah, Adelaide and Jacob Schopp, Emily (Jake) and Victoria Cluett, Josephine Sopotiuk, Oliver and Elly Slade, Alicia and Olivia Klaassen, Michael and Anna Klaassen, Gavin and Simon Burn, Thomas Cesario, and Helena and Viola Bailey. (Ron was predeceased by his parents, Kornelius and Helen Toews, his sister Louise Klaassen, his brother-in-law Christopher Riggs, and his grand-nephew Garrett Schopp.) The family is joined in mourning by a wide circle of friends and colleagues in Smithers, across Canada and abroad. Ron enriched our lives over many years with his talents, integrity, spirit and generosity. His bellowing laugh warmed our hearts. Born in Rosthern, Saskatchewan on May 30, 1949, he was the youngest of five children. He grew up in Regina, where his father was to become a professor of mathematics at the University of Regina. Ron attended Benson Public School and Luther College High School. In addition to academics, he enjoyed sports and excelled in music. A high school work term in Bavaria sparked his early interest in travel and learning languages. While at the University of Regina, he began pursuing an interest in history, both inside and outside the classroom, completing an honours history degree and spending summers working at national historic sites such as Batoche, a major battlefield of the Riel Rebellion. While at Law School at the University of British Columbia, he took two years off to travel around the world, mostly by bicycle or local transport, concluding with a six months' stay in Japan. After completing Law School in 1975, he set his sights on northern BC. He obtained his articles in Prince George in 1976, and was called to the bar, opened a general law practice in Smithers, and settled there. His practice thrived and he was able to invest in Smithers commercial Real Estate. Always curious about the law, he took a sabbatical from 1983 to 1984, earning a Master's degree in Law from the London School of Economics. Upon his return from the UK, he hosted a BBQ for the northern legal community, which became an annual event for many years, complete with roast suckling pig, lamb and salmon, all roasted on a spit of his own invention. (The BBQ has been so successful that it has been taken on and hosted by other local lawyers in later years.) In 1995, he was elected Law Society of British Columbia Bencher for the County of Prince Rupert, representing all the lawyers from Burns Lake to Haida Gwaii. He served four terms from 1996 to 2003 achieving the rare distinction of being appointed Life Bencher, a role tasked with ensuring the competency and integrity of BC's lawyers. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 2000, a significant achievement. He was also appointed to assist the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC with regulating the competency and integrity of BC's doctors. He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of the Law Foundation of BC where he assisted the public with gaining access to legal services and law reform. In 2009 he closed his general law practice and joined the Smithers Crown Counsel office as a senior lawyer handling challenging cases. He retired from full-time criminal prosecution work in 2017. Throughout his many years practicing law, he took extended breaks from his work to travel the world. He journeyed over every continent except Antarctica. Some holidays were exotic - riding the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow, swimming in the Hellespont, and hiking the Silk Road from Istanbul to Xi'an. Sometimes his travels were inspired by his reading of history, particularly that of his Mennonite forebears- to Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, Paraguay, and western Canada. His interest in music, particularly in opera and jazz, fuelled extensive travel in Europe and the United States. Locally, the west-coast terrain suited his love of archery, trap shooting, kayaking and scuba diving with his family and friends. He was an expert pheasant hunter and owned a series of beloved dogs, his constant companions, that he trained to hunt with him to fill the freezer with wild game. The large yard around his home provided room for the dogs to roam freely and space for Ron's bountiful vegetable garden. Ron also played clarinet and saxophone in the Smithers community band for many years and achieved a first-degree black belt in Judo as well as founding the Smithers Judo Club. He was instrumental in getting the Bulkley Valley regional pool and recreation centre built, sitting on the board of that organisation. He was also on the boards of the Smithers Historical Museum, the Bulkley Valley Rod and Gun Club and the Smithers Archery Club, to name but a few of the community groups that were happy to engage his organisational talents. With this community involvement he hoped to provide opportunities for young people in the Smithers area. A celebration of Ron's life is being planned for a time in 2021 when larger gatherings can be safely held. Those wishing to make a memorial donation are invited to do so with the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation for scholarships and bursaries ( or to a charity of their choice.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Globe and Mail from Nov. 19 to Nov. 23, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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14 entries
November 24, 2020
Ron was a wonderful man who believed in making a difference by giving generously of his time, knowledge and experience for a variety of organizations. I had the pleasure of serving with him as a Bencher and a Governor of the Law Foundation. He was well read, funny, and had terrific taste in music and dogs. His home was filled with wonderful curios from his extensive travels. He will be sorely missed here on earth but the angels above now have a talented musician to accompany their heavenly serenades.
Anna Fung
Colleague and admirer
Anna Fung
November 23, 2020
I met Ron when I practiced law in Terrace. But the meeting I treasure most occurred at the spectacular junction of the Stikine and Tahltan rivers, on the road to Telegraph Creek.

He an I independently travelled to Telegraph Creek to meet people in preparation for court the next day in Dease Lake.

We did not plan to meet, but recognized each other as we passed in our trucks.

We stopped at the top of cliffs which overlook two great canyons. As eagles soared overhead, and bears prowled the riverbanks, Ron and I negotiated resolutions of matters set for court the next day. And his dogs raced about us, exploring.

There was nothing particularly important about that meeting, except that it exemplified some of his traits. Ron took pleasure in the outdoors. His practicality allowed him to take advantage of opportunities that others might never see.

Ron impressed me with his compassion, good sense and great humour. Even after I left the north, I had the pleasure of his conversation, especially after he joined the Crown.

Knowing him was a blessing.
Henry Waldock
November 23, 2020
I was fortunate to serve as a bencher with Ron for some years. He was a wonderful man: observant, quick-witted, kind and generous. He always had a great story to share about life in Smithers, his travels, history, characters he met in his law practice. And he always had lovely, kind dogs!
Jane Shackell
November 22, 2020
What a loss to Smithers and to Canada! I knew Ron well when we were both members of the Regina Intercollegiate Orchestra. He was then, as he was all life, a free spirit, an independent thinker who could quote from the Bible as easily as from Shakespeare. In those days he rode a small motorbike; in later years, a Cadillac convertible. He was simply a great person who gave enormously to his community and to Canada, and who showed us what is a life well lived.

Jim Mitchell
Jim Mitchell
November 21, 2020
So sad to hear of the passing of Ron. He was such a warm, kind man. I met Ron when we were both Benchers of the Law Society of B.C. and in later years, I visited him in Smithers when I was hiking in the area. He was a very respectful of others in his professional duties, as well as friendly and humorous when it mattered, and always generous. We kept in contact over the last ten years. He is missed.
Margaret Ostrowski
November 21, 2020
I was saddened to learn of Ron’s passing. We served as Benchers together for 7 years. I was fortunate to have attended the “no vegetarians need apply” barbecue when we had a Benchers meeting in Smithers in 1998. Following the meeting Ron and I and another Bencher, Richard Margetts, Q.C., participated in the Tyhee Lake triathalon. I was fortunate to have spent time with Ron last year, driving around the Smithers area in his large old car. I always enjoyed hearing about his travels to distant lands. He was a true renaissance man, good at so many thing, smart, wise and kind.
Rob McDiarmid
November 20, 2020
Ron took me under his wing when I joined the Smithers Crown Counsel office. The first time we met--within about five minutes--he offered to let me live in his basement. Rent free! That kind of generosity is rare, but was typical for Ron.

Ron also invited me to judge the Kid's Dog Show (that he created) at the Bulkley Valley Fair. Ron's sense of humour was evident in the categories: longest and shortest nose; longest, shortest, and curliest tail; weirdest dog... At the dog show, Ron was firm (he disqualified a five year old for not having proper control of her dog), but fair (he un-disqualified that same five year old when she started crying).

Ron will be missed. My condolences to his family.
Mark Crisp
November 20, 2020
Deepest condolences to the family Ron was always a delightful man to
Be around ! Big heart of gold, always kind and forever with an endless smile that just warmed the heart He will
Be deeply missed by the entire community I will personally miss seeing him shuffling down the hall in the court house
November 20, 2020
I had no idea, this is so sad. I have had the greatest blessings of working together for a few years in the legal aid department of providing legal assistance to clients. Since that time (years ago), we pass by each other always acknowledged each other with a smile and a hello and made sure we knew we both were ok. He’s only lived half a block away from me and I could hear his beat friends barking sometimes. I very rarely saw him without his best friends. I’ll never forget your gentle personality whether in passing on the street or in the justice system.

May you rest in sweet peace Ron, I will definitely miss our

Condolences to the family
Phillistine Olson
November 19, 2020
Ron has been kind and helpful to me through the years of practicing law in Northwest BC. In fact, he assisted in bringing the first call to the bar ceremony held in Smithers in 1997; mine! Blessings on your journey Ron.
Cynthia M. Joseph
November 19, 2020
Spent 3 weeks at the other end of a kayak along the shores of Queen Charlotte Island with Ron. He always tried to make the best of the situation, and always had a humorous story to tell. He'll be missed in the Bulkley Valley, that's a for-sure. Anne Havard (now living on Gabriola Island).
November 19, 2020
In the summer of 2019 I rode my motorcycle up to Smithers to see Ron for the first time in exactly fifty years. I was born a year after Ron, in Regina. His father and mine were both professors at Regina College (now University.)

My family moved to Edmonton when Ron and I were about fourteen. I saw him next - and last for those five decades - in 1968 while passing through Regina, on my great adventure of study and travel in Europe. I have an amusing story about that short visit that I will not reveal here.

Our paths didn't cross during those intervening decades, but each time I heard somehow of one of his accomplishments, I thought I should get in touch, and after far too long I finally did.

The few days I spent with Ron (and Hupert!) last year were the most fun I'd had in a long while. My travel stories pale in comparison to his. I was right in guessing that his swim across the Hellespont was inspired by the Byron tale in our grade 7 textbook.

By happy circumstance that was the week of the famous legal community BBQ at the Archery Club. There I had my first experience with the compound bow, which has since inspired me to sign up for archery class here in Victoria. And the next day, Ron introduced me to Skeet shooting. I hit - ahem - one in twenty-five. Not a resume-worthy tally, but it was a hoot!

That was also the time leading up to the Orchestra North performance, which Ron participated in both, I believe, as a performer and an organizer. I shared Ron's house on the last day of my visit with one of the performers Ron generously hosted.

There's so much more to say about what a wonderful man Ron was, but I'll end here.
Robert Thomas
November 19, 2020
Ron was Fantastic! At one point during his world travels he sent me postcards ( which I collect ) from all over . I loved his brief summaries of each area he was in. Ron was a wonderful , thoughtful man
Frank Di Sensi
November 19, 2020
Ron was such a friendly and familiar face around Smithers for many years. His smile and jovial personality will be sorely missed. Our sincerest condolences to his family.
Bob & Doreen Haslett
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