PETER SHEPHERD
1957 - 2021
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SHEPHERD, PETER October 31, 1957 – April 21, 2021 With his wife and sister at his bedside, and connected to family and friends by cell phone, Peter was at the centre of a circle of care and love, connected to a network of family and friends, as he passed on to the next stage of life's journey. The cause of Peter's death, at age 63, was an acute non-covid viral infection. We are very grateful to the doctors, nurses and other health care providers at Toronto General Hospital, Cardiac Intensive Care and Medical Surgical Intensive Care, for their especially compassionate and superbly professional care for Peter during his health crisis. Peter was born in Peterborough, Ontario, while his father, Robert, was working as a general practitioner in Lakefield. The Shepherd family - Robert, wife Dorothy, Rob, Anne and Peter - moved to Montreal for Peter's teenage years. Peter went to Selwyn House for high school. The family lived first in Beaconsfield and then on Atwater Street in Montreal. For eight months during 1975 – 1976, Peter lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with his father's sister Dr. Gwendolyn Shepherd, and visited family in Montevideo, Uruguay. Gwen was a pediatrician and founder of Fundacion VITRA, dedicated to providing relief for children during Argentina's Polio epidemic. She helped to convinced the government to launch a universal Polio vaccine campaign. Another formative experience for Peter was from September 1977 to April 1978, when he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland (near Aberdeen), before returning to Canada. From May to November 1978, Peter lived with his father in the Eastern Townships on the Forest Farm, an alternative therapeutic community founded by Robert Shepherd, after he had qualified as a psychiatrist. Robert later developed the property into the Ruiter Valley Land Trust, the first of its kind in Quebec. During his time at Forest Farm, Peter helped to build a log house, giving him a taste of the pleasures and rewards of building homes. An anchor for Peter and his family was the cottage at Stony Lake, north of Lakefield, close to Burleigh Falls. There were beautiful views looking across the lake from the cottage nestled in the pink-grey granite of the Canadian Shield. Many happy hours were spent swimming around Crocodile Rock and canoeing through the inlets and bays, paddling by scenic St Peter's Church on the Rock and through a wonderful wetland. Peter greatly enjoyed spending time there with his sister, Anne, in the summer, and he could always find something needing to be fixed. Peter pursued undergraduate studies in English at Trent University, during 1975-1977, and finished up his undergraduate degree through additional courses at the University of Toronto after relocating to Toronto. Soon after settling in Toronto, Peter met a group of friends who became his most loyal and faithful friends for the rest of his life: James Cherian, Blair Clark, Jay Dulabh, William Eckhart, Gordon Kogawa, and David Reeve. In the words of Blair Clark: It was a time of student rooming houses, shared fridges and shared phone lines, new faces coming and going with each semester or summer job season. Peter's friends well remember Peter's advocacy for tenants, while working as custodian of several adjacent houses. They were impressed and amused at Peter's diligence and creativity in his endeavours to supplement his income. Peter's early years in Toronto were spent working in construction, doing carpentry and home retrofitting for energy conservation. With fellow carpenter/activists Brian Milani (author of Designing the Green Economy: The Postindustrial Alternative to Corporate Globalization), Gilles Arseneault (who subsequently pursued a passion for art) and others, Peter championed green building through Green City Construction. Peter was a keen attendee and participant of events for the Coalition for a Green Economy, founded by architect Greg Allen (Sustainable Edge), Michael Berger, and Wayne Roberts (author and former manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council, TFPC). From very early on, Peter was an exceptionally committed activist, first in the peace movement, taking part in civil protest, and then focusing on climate justice, energy conservation, and renewable energy. Peter greatly valued the work of Science for Peace, and his involvement with that organization bridged his peace activism and his environmental activism. Peter was an active and vital member of JustEarth (member of Climate Action Network), working alongside Lyn Adamson, Yvonne Buckingham, Rose Dyson, Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, Joyce Hall, Susan James, Lynn McDonald and Ronny Yaron. JustEarth is committed to preventing dangerous levels of human interference with the global climate system, protecting environmental sustainability and public health, while upholding principles of just transition, equity and social justice. Fellow JustEarthers appreciated Peter's extensive knowledge and detailed attention to much needed systems changes. In their own words: I am so glad I knew Peter; his spirit of devotion to the common good stood out, as did his warmth and enthusiasm (Joyce Hall). There are no words to express our deep loss of Peter and his never-ending commitment to the issues and concerns we have been working with him over the years. We all benefitted from his valuable passion, knowledge and research in so many ways (Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg). He will be missed for his passionate and well-informed contributions to meetings and visits with politicians (Rose Dyson). Peter knew so much, cared so deeply and was always so respectful of others (Lyn Adamson). Peter held the vision of the world we want and need to leave for those who are young and who will be the agents of change for the future (Lyn Adamson). Peter Shepherd had a special position at Passive Buildings Canada, connecting that group to the larger world, representing it to the Climate Action Network. Peter would bring to PBC's attention other groups and organizations doing great things for the environment, and encourage PBC to lend its name to initiatives in the hopes of moving the needle ever closer towards sustainability. During the past several years, Peter has been a committed Board member at large for the Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC), a scholarly association that has been meeting regularly in the context of the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Peter was organizer and chair of two panels for ESAC that were close to his heart, held on May 31st and June 1, 2017 (at Ryerson University). The first panel was on Building Solutions for Climate Change Close to Home: Green Building and Retrofitting for Energy Conservation in Canada, with participants Danny Harvey (professor), Russell Richman (professor), Sheena Sharp (architect) and Terrell Wong (architect). The second panel was on The Promise of Behavioural Change Science to Inform Climate Communication, with panellists Emmay May (Environmentum), Vincent Schutt (Environmentum) and Jeffrey Wardell (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH). The next year, Peter was a co-organizer and participant in a special interdisciplinary roundtable discussion hosted by ESAC (in conjunction with the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities), calling for constructive dialogue and innovative visions for addressing and reducing the carbon footprint of scholarly conferences. Fellow panellists for the May 28, 2018 event (at the University of Regina) included professors Ryan Katz-Rosene (ESAC President), Simon Donner, and Geoffrey Martin Rockwell. Peter championed the Flying Less Initiative with great passion and enthusiasm. On June 5, 2019 (at the University of British Columbia), Peter was a panellist as well as co-organizer of a special open event for Congress, on Green Academe: How Can Our Carbon Footprint-Related Actions in Academia Create Meaningful Change? Other panellists who joined Peter included: Erica Frank (professor) and Seth Wynes (doctoral student). In the spring of 2020, the pandemic precipitated the change to a fully virtual conference for Congress, and Peter experienced the virtues and rewards of ESAC's first fully online conference. Peter met his life partner, Alex, in February 1995, a most joyous occasion for them both leading to a wonderful partnership of over 25 years. Peter and Alex were married in October of 2006 at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse. They shared a deep and enduring curiosity about the wonders of nature, and had a mutual passion for hiking with the Bruce Trail Association as well as going on more local walks with the Toronto Field Naturalists. They both loved their holidays, often twinned with academic conferences, spending many happy hours in museums and art galleries, and trying to fit in as many tourist sites as they could in a day. Peter and Alex were faithful supporters of theatre, including his sister Anne's plays, as well as yearly theatre vacations in Stratford. Peter was a dedicated lifelong learner, taking a certificate in home inspection from Seneca College, and earning his Red Seal carpentry certification. More recently, Peter became a graduate of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Passive Builder Certification program. Peter also took and greatly enjoyed numerous courses through Ryerson University's continuing education in environmental management, sustainability, renewable energy policy, project management, media studies, and communications. Peter was predeceased by his father, Robert, his mother Dorothy, cousin Robin, cousin Diane, and aunt Liz. Peter is survived by his loving wife, Alex, and on the Shepherd side of the family: his brother Rob (Margie) and nephews Rob Jr. (Monica, Hailey, and Mason), Scott (Ursa) and Thomas (Christie), his sister Anne (Bob) and nephews John, Michael and James (Jasmine), and cousin Pat (Tish, Shannon and Trevor). On the Wellington side of the family, Peter is survived by: Scott (Connor and Meaghan), Adwynna, Anne (Brett, Chase, and Aidan), Tina (TJ, Lincoln and Wyatt), and Gabrielle. In lieu of flowers, we encourage donations to environmental organizations, especially ones focusing on climate justice, to animal welfare organizations, to the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation, and to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Peter was a loyal daily listener of the CBC throughout his life, and a supporter of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting for years. A life celebration will be planned at a future date, when the circumstances allow for gathering together to honour Peter's life and legacy.

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Published in Toronto Star on Apr. 24, 2021.
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19 entries
June 17, 2021
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June 15, 2021
It has taken a long time for me to reconcile this news.
i did not know Peter well. I did recognize him to be a person of profound good intent towards the planet and his fellow crew on our spaceship Earth. His was, in my limited experience, thirsty for knowledge, persistent, of good humour with a ready smile; a person who strived to makes things better.

climate buddy
Tom Cullen
Acquaintance
May 16, 2021
In loving memory of a wonderful person. I will love you and miss you always.
Hiroko Tokimune
Friend
May 16, 2021
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Hiroko Tokimune
Friend
May 3, 2021
I've known Peter since his first summer in Toronto (1978 or79?) and we, together with some others, have more or less been in each other's lives ever since. From the very beginning, Peter's temperament was just beyond my ken, and I have been challenged in many ways to be his friend. Yet I have counted him among the dearest and truest of friends.
I'm very, very sorry to see you go Peter. Thank you for living your beautiful self. You've left a living mark on many. Thank you for everything.
Blair Clark
Friend
May 3, 2021
I've knew Peter from his first summer in Toronto (1978 or 79?) and we, together with some others, have more or less been in each other's lives ever since. From the very beginning, Peter's temperament was just beyond my ken, and I have been challenged in many ways to be his friend. Yet I have counted him among the dearest and truest of friends.
I'm very, very sorry to see you go Peter. Thank you for living your beautiful self. You've left a living mark on many. Thank you for everything.
Blair Clark
Friend
May 3, 2021
I am so sorry to hear about Peter. May he rest in peace I met him in Regina during ESAC’s conference in 2018 and in Vancouver in 2019. What a dedicated person to empower younger generation for environmental protection! My deepest condolences to his family and relatives!
Keshab Thapa
Friend
May 1, 2021
Peter’s untimely passing leaves a terrible hole in our climate community. We will miss his gentle nature, his knowledge, focus, passion and commitment to the common good. He should have had many more years ahead of him to share these gifts. Sending my comfort to Alex and family, and dear friends.
Rita Bijons, climate buddy
April 30, 2021
Peter was such a fine person; this is sad and sorry news. Blessed be.
Brennain Lloyd
Friend
April 29, 2021
Peter was a remarkable person - consistent and true to the core in his beliefs and practices. I have such appreciation for his practical and solutions oriented mind which was always influenced by a deep philosophical commitment to truth and justice. I will so miss his attention to detail filling out his big-picture vision. The movement for climate and ecological justice, intersecting with social, racial, economic and political justice is all the better for his having been such a valued member and reliable partner. We will miss his gentleness, and courage, his faith, compassion, and twinkling eyes and mourn his passing. Our hearts go out to Alex and all those who loved him and will always love him. Blessings and comfort to you.
Peter Shepherd, Presente!
Joy Kennedy
Friend
April 29, 2021
A constant inspiration, great mind and genuinely kind soul. Thank you Peter. Rest in Power.
Graham Saul
Coworker
April 29, 2021
My deepest condolences to Peter's family and friends.
Jamie Ker
Friend
April 27, 2021
I am profoundly saddened to learn of Peter's passing, and I pass on my deepest condolences and sympathy to Alex and his family. The world is a poorer place with his passing. Peter deeply cared about the world and people, and worked tirelessly to move us in the right direction. He will be greatly missed.
Danny Harvey
Friend
April 26, 2021
We went to high school and had many wonderful adventures during our adolescence together - the stories are legion.
Such a delightful guy: smart, wise, gentle and so, so funny. I'm so grateful to have had him as a friend.
Alex, Anne and Rob, you are in my thoughts. Jody
Jody Amblard
Friend
April 25, 2021
I loved Peter's enthusiasm for learning and applying himself to whatever task or project he took on.....not afraid of hard work and anxious to share his findings to help others. Our group of activists in Just Earth benefitted from his research before each meeting with a member of parliament, providing us with background information. A caring, kind human being who had so much more to give.....
Ronny Yaron
Friend
April 25, 2021
My relationship with Peter started in December 1984 when I went to see the room next to his. He spotted me walking by his open door and though he was on the phone, interrupted his call to say we should share a phone line. From then on our friendship was based on movies, going to the odd singles dance, and his family cottage. I had a car and he had the cottage, and that formed the basis for 25 years of summer cottage visits. He always found work that needed doing at the cottage, though invariably he took many breaks to drink coffee and read the newspaper. He tried in vain to raise my social conscience and we had many a spirited discussion. At least I was willing to give him and his model 'Fat Man' a lift home after an anti-nuclear demonstration at Nathan Philips square.
He had a very warm heart, and I will miss our energetic discussions over dim sum, with his loving wife Alex trying to keep the volume reasonable.
David Reeve
Friend
April 25, 2021
I’m one of many people who had the good fortune to connect with Peter over shared environmental interests. I remember Peter as a keen learner after he enrolled in an online course I developed about Economic Literacy for a Green Economy. I also remember Peter as a great ally in enhancing broader ecological economic literacy - including going out of his way to try to get me interviewed on CBC radio programs after his disappointment with many of their interviewees. Thanks Peter for all the ways that you’ve enriched and encouraged so many of us in environmental communities. My condolences to his family and friends and allies.
Eric Miller
Acquaintance
April 24, 2021
Dear Alex, I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful man. I will always remember his kindness. I visited you in 2008 with my ex husband Stephen Dunk, his cousin.
Karina Chamorro
Family
April 24, 2021
Too early. Gentle soul. Not afraid to put his shoulder into his work. I always enjoyed our discussions. Rest in peace
Greg Labbé
Acquaintance
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