Peter Boris DENT
1936 - 2021
{ "" }
Share
Share Peter's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
MD, FRCP (C), OC
May 16, 1936 - September 23, 2021
It is with profound sadness we share that Dr. Peter Boris Dent passed away peacefully on September 23rd, 2021, surrounded by his family. Devoted and loving husband for 59 years to Diane Gower Dent and loving father to Jennifer Haddon (David), Ashley (André), Rebecca (Greg); Cherished grandfather also lovingly known as Pepi to Benjamin Peter Haddon, Timothy Sean Haddon and Alexandra Coco and Thomas Gili. Predeceased by his parents, Dr. Eric Dent and Esther Marie Dent (née Kraus) and his beloved in-laws, Frederick, and Marjorie Fletcher Gower. Loved and adored by Carr, Gower, Kushner and Tandler cousins, nieces, and nephews. Peter has been a huge presence behind everything we have done. Born May 16, 1936, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Peter was raised in Toronto where he attended Primary School and met his lifelong friend, Dr. James MacDougall. At Upper Canada College Peter met other lifelong friends Nick Ross and the late Scott McDonald and where he was a member of the rugby and cricket teams. Earaches and hospitalization led Peter at a very young age to know he wanted to be a pediatrician. He graduated from Medicine at the University of Toronto in 1962, following which Peter would go on to completing pediatric training at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. It was there he met the love of his life, Diane a pediatric nurse, whom he married in 1962. Immediately following their wedding, they sailed to England where Peter completed a year of pathology at the Ladywood Road Children's Hospital in Birmingham. They returned to Toronto in 1963 in time for the birth of their first child, Jennifer Marie. Eager to do additional international research, Peter accepted a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship in Immunology to study from 1964 and 1968 in Minneapolis with Dr. Robert Good one of the founders of Immunology. It was there that their second daughter, Ashley Susan was born and where they made lifelong friends with Dr. Alfred and Enrica Fish and Dr. Max and Rosalie Cooper, Ashley's Godmother. Returning to Canada in 1968, Peter joined McMaster's medical school as a clinical scientist with a research focus in cancer immunology and pediatric rheumatology. The research team was notable for its international impact in what was then an undeveloped field. During this time, Peter created Canada's first multi-disciplinary program in Immunology and Virology. There was also the highlight of the arrival of Rebecca Alexandra, their third daughter. Always pushing the boundaries and further interest in research, led Peter to take a 1977-1978 sabbatical year at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Research (ISREC) in Epilanges, Switzerland. It was a truly unique experience for the whole family. The three daughters attended Swiss schools. It was also where architect Jean Denis Lyon and his wife Gina became lifelong friends. During Peter's term as Chair of McMaster's Department of Pediatrics from 1980 to 1990, he founded what is now known as the McMaster Children's Hospital in 1988, which led to his founding of Hamilton's Ronald McDonald House for families of sick children in the hospital. In March 1988, Peter and the chairs of Pediatrics across Canada were invited to Beijing to visit the Children's hospital for advice on the care of children. A once in a lifetime experience for Peter and Diane. In 1985, Peter was lauded for initiating the establishment of a web-based information-sharing platform still used by specialists worldwide. In 2008, in recognition of his achievements, Peter was inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction and in 2015, into the McMaster University Faculty of Health Science's Community of Distinction. Most notably, in 2017 Peter was named a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours. This award acknowledged Peter's five decades as a devoted clinician, a pioneer in immunology and especially for his vision in founding the McMaster Children's Hospital and Hamilton's Ronald McDonald House. Through his leadership and determination both of these visions became realities. A humble man, when accepting the honour, Peter stated: "I'll accept this award on behalf of all the people who have worked hard for the children of our community and beyond; those who have helped me achieve these accomplishments during my career." Peter officially retired from the practice of medicine in 2020 after holding several senior hospital appointments; Vice-President (Medicine) for Chedoke McMaster Hospital, Director of Research for Hamilton Health Sciences (1990-1997), Professor Emeritus (1996); Associate Dean, Clinical Services-Faculty of Health Sciences (2002- 2012). Peter was instrumental in negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long- Term Care for a new way of funding academic physicians. His expertise was also recognized internationally by the American board of Pediatrics through the appointment as Medical Editor and as a member and chair of the sub-board of Pediatric Rheumatology section of the American College of Rheumatology. Peter has played an instrumental role in building Hamilton's reputation as a world leader in children's health. Peter's most recent contributions were as a member and chair of a subcommittee on Prenatal Screening and the creation of the Hamilton Community Foundation Chedoke Health Bursary a support for students facing multiple barriers in accessing and completing post-secondary education. Peter's legacy will live on professionally through the patients and families who have and will continue to receive exceptional care and support at the McMaster Children's Hospital and Hamilton's Ronald McDonald House. While his work was his passion, Peter also had several cherished pastimes: reading, listening to Leonard Cohen, growing his beautiful dahlias; watching friend Steve Paikin's The Agenda on TVO while working out daily on his elliptical machine; Judy Woodruff's newscasts on PBS; and birdwatching. Peter was immensely proud of his family and looked forward to yearly family reunions on Ile De Re, France, and trips with Diane and family to Prague, Germany, Singapore, and England. With the purchase of a cottage in northern Ontario family times became even more special. Memories to last forever include Christmas dinners and carol singing with Dr. Sean and Cynthia Moore and family as well as visits to their cottage on New River Beach and theatre outings to the Stratford Festival. Steered in life by a strong moral compass, Peter committed his professional career to improving the welfare of children and not only provided a loving and enriching life for his wife and three daughters, but also to the community in which he lived. His positive outlook on life, his dedication to his patients, his devotion to his wife and family and as well as his sense of humour made him admired by all who met him. To have known him is to have known someone who lived his entire life with kindness, tenacity, earnestness, and the desire to improve the lot of his fellow human beings. Peter was guided by a strong Christian faith, believing that religion did more than teaching history did; religion taught about life. Committed to that faith, he and Diane became active members of Hamilton's Christ's Church Cathedral where Peter served as Rector's Warden to Dean Joachim Fricker in 1972. More recently Peter and Diane were warmly welcomed by Father Joseph Asselin and the church community at St. John's Anglican Church in Ancaster. Guiding Peter throughout his religious journey was Bishop Ralph Spence, Peter's friend, and mentor, along with Dr. Jacob Ellens who together with Father Joseph provided support and comfort to both Peter and Diane through this difficult time. We will forever cherish our dear Peter, husband, father, and Pepi and are thankful for the many special memories he has given us. We miss him. Our family would like to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to all the devoted, kind and compassionate healthcare professionals at the Juravinski Cancer Centre as well as all the nurses and support staff at the Juravinski Hospital and at our home. They provided compassionate support to Peter and our family. We are truly indebted. Visitation at Smith's Funeral Home, 485 Brant Street, (one block north of City Hall), Burlington (905- 632-3333), on Friday, October 1, 2021 from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. and
Saturday, October 2, 2021 from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. There is a limit to the number who may attend at one time. Please RSVP in advance at www.smithsfh. com or by calling the funeral home between 9 and 5 p.m. All visitors are asked to wear a face mask and to remain in their cars until their allotted time. At this time, the family wishes for only fully vaccinated guests to attend. A private family service will be held at St. John's Anglican Church, Ancaster with a Memorial Service in the future. A livestream of the service will be available at www.smithsfh.com

In memory of Peter, and in lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to St. John's Anglican Church, Ancaster https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/56854 or to the Dr. Peter Dent Legacy Fund to honour his memory, https://www.hamiltonhealth.ca/dent
Published in The Hamilton Spectator on Sep. 28, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
10 entries
October 7, 2021
Just a note to Diane
Kathy and I learned of Peter’s death today from her father John Rathbone.
We came home from our cottage on Oct 1 to attend Murray Rathbone’s funeral on Oct 4 at St John’s Ancaster
We still live in a large condo in Burlington and we still see Shirley Fricker here. I can’t remember if Peter was on Parish council when I was and I worked with J Fricker on the first restoration. But did have many conversations with Peter.
During Covid Kathy and I have spent many days at the cottage which I designed and did 90 % of the construction.
At 71 I have not totally retired from my engineering career and can work from the cottage.
Our prayers our with you and your daughters.
We will try to keep advised of a service at St John’s
Regards Kathy and Phil Hartog

Philip Hartog
October 6, 2021
Peter was a fine gentleman who welcomed me into the fold of pediatric rheumatologists, some 35 years ago. I shall never forget his warmth, kindness and brilliant intellect. He left the world a better place than when he joined it. Thank you for sharing such a good man with the world of pediatric rheumatology.
Kathleen O’Neil
Student
October 1, 2021
I was saddened in ways hard to put into words to read of Peter’s death. I met Peter and Diane years ago through their long-time friend—and Peter’s former UCC schoolmate—Edward Jackman. After that, at get togethers, both formal and informal, there were wonderful conversations, intellectual stimulation, and lots of humour. Over time, I learned—always from others—just a fraction of Peter’s accomplishments and contributions. “He made the world a better place” is a phrase sometimes used loosely, but in Peter’s case, it is spot on. My condolences to Diane, her daughters, their families, and all who will miss this wonderful man. Sincerely, Martha Jackson, Etobicoke
Martha Jackaon
Friend
October 1, 2021
With great sadness we would like to honour the man who gave our son a second life. Without his extreme knowledge and passion to help Shayne he wouldn’t be the man he is today. With love from our family may he always be honoured in his Greatest passion to medical help change lives. Rest In Peace Dr Dent.
The Sheppard Family
Friend
October 1, 2021
With great sadness we would like to honour the man who gave our son a second life. Without his extreme knowledge and passion to help Shayne he wouldn’t be the man he is today. With love from our family may he always be honoured in his Greatest passion to medical help change lives. Rest In Peace Dr Dent.
The Sheppard Family
Friend
October 1, 2021
I am so sorry to hear of Dr. Dent's passing. I worked for him when he was VP Medicine at McMaster and then Director of Research for HHS, and as his Clinical Assistant as well. I was just fresh out of College and this was my first "real" job, I remember being nervous meeting him and wanting to impress, but I needn't have worried. He was warm, genuine and really funny. I have so many wonderful memories of him, he would bring me Dahlias for the office and little gifts from his trips abroad (I still have them)! I remember after he had meetings, he would ask how they treated me while they waited, I didn't understand why at the time, but do now. We would talk in his office and he would give me work and life advice, which was welcomed because I had such respect for him and because he just always seemed larger than life, so knowledgeable about everything. I will never forget that when one of his "kids" (patients) was no longer with us, he would hide their file from me because he knew I would get upset and cry. He taught me so much, about everything really - from navigating the inner workings of the hospital and administration to general household repairs. He taught me about life really, and I use his lessons to this day. After years of working together, he told me to call him Peter. But I couldn't, he was and will always be Dr. Dent to me.
I have thought of him fondly often over the years and will always. He is a wonderful, kind soul, a true humanitarian. There are no words really, I am sad and truly sorry for your loss.
Barbara Vandenbroek (nee Bon)
Coworker
September 29, 2021
On behalf of the Moore family, I would like to send our deepest condolences to Diane, Jennifer, Ashley, Rebecca, and the rest of the Dent clan. Peter was a wonderful person in every way. He was an accomplished physician who truly cared about his patients and the welfare of the less fortunate. He was a loyal friend to many, including my parents and our family, who loved him very much. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who was so very proud of his family. We will all miss his laughter, joie-de-vivre, intelligence, and compassionate nature. May his memory be a blessing.
Brian Moore
Friend
September 29, 2021
Peter was the nicest man that I have ever known. He was charming and humble and interesting. I am honoured to have been able to call him a friend.
Janice Brown
Friend
September 28, 2021
Oh Diane, I just cried as I read this . God gave you a tremendous life partner. AND besides ALL that has been said he was so warm and funny ! We loved him too. So sad we can’t be at the service.
Debbie Permins
September 28, 2021
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Sylvia van Wyngaarden
Acquaintance
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences