16 entries
  • "Don was my favourite professor at York University. He was..."
    - jane curran
  • "To Don's kids. I was at your dad's memorial and talked to..."
    - Tom Hopkins
  • "I will miss him more than I can say. He was, simply, a..."
    - John Wing
  • "Don was my Humanities prof at York. I took as many of his..."
    - Heather Conrad
  • "Don was my Humanities Prof at York. I took every class I..."
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COLES, Don 1927 - 2017 Don died on November 29, 2017 with his wife Heidi, daughter Sarah and son Luke by his side. Adoring grandfather to Jen and Luke's Sawyer, he leaves a hole in all of us that we hope to fill with cherished memories and stories. Don was born in Woodstock, Ontario, as the second of four children of Alice and Jack Coles. He was predeceased by his sister Mary Alice and will be missed by his sister Carolyn in Ottawa and his brother John in England and their extended families scattered throughout Canada and Europe, as well as by his in-law family in Germany. Don attended Victoria College at University of Toronto as his parents did before him, meeting two influential mentors in Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan. He went on to the University of Cambridge in England and travelled, lived and worked extensively all over Europe. Cambridge was a city that he often returned to both physically and in spirit. He met his wife in Stockholm and they married in 1958. Don was a reader, a writer and a teacher. His fluency in other languages allowed him to enjoy the classics of Europe and, during 30 years of teaching Humanities and Creative Writing at York University and 10 years at the Banff Centre, to pass on that passion to many students. He published 14 books of poetry, a novel and memoirs and was awarded the Governor General's Award in 1993 for Forests of the Medieval World and the Trillium Award in 2000 for Kurgan. He was particularly proud to have co-founded Ontario's first concurrent teacher education program. Don (Dad/Farfar/Donnie/DC and more) was also an enthusiastic athlete. He loved the beaches and woods of Lake Huron where he learned to walk and horseback ride. And what about his tennis? Don played with his pals in in Toronto and at the Southampton Tennis Club into his late 80s and even represented Canada with that one-of-a-kind service motion at the Swedish Open in 1957. He was a fan, too; equally passionate about Manchester United and grand slam tennis as his hometown Leafs and Jays. His volleyball spikes were fearsome, he played a mean game of snooker and he wasn't too bad at the cryptic crosswords that he and Heidi would co-tackle almost daily. The family would like to thank Don's GP, Dr. Alan Fegelman, for his exceptional care and his PSW, Grace, for her kind presence during his last days. Please join us for a celebration of Don's life on Sunday, December 17th at 1 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery's Visitation Centre. Donations to Don's charity of choice Amnesty International are welcome. Further details when available at
Published in the Toronto Star on Dec. 2, 2017