August 17, 1934 – January 28, 2023
In Loving Memory ~
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Earl Walker Stewart, a long-time resident of Gloucester, Ontario, more recently of Kanata, on Saturday, January 28th, 2023, at the age of 88.
He is survived by his wife Astrid; brother Ross, sister Enid Rolin (Urbane); his three sons Colin (Sophie), Murray (Veronica) and James (Liane) and step-sons Vanya (Andréanne) and Sacha (Jessica) Corbeil; grandchildren Walker, Nolan, Emile and Arlene. He was Opi to Sophie, Jacques, Matthias, Cassandra, and Anya. He is also survived by his first wife Betty Stewart, mother of Colin, Murray and James. Earl was predeceased by his parents, Ernest and Irene (nee Walker), and siblings Gerald, Evelyn, Lloyd, Wilma Paterson, and Wilbert.
Earl was born in Birch Hills, in northern Saskatchewan on August 17, 1934, the youngest of eight children. When Earl was two, the family moved to a farm in Salmon Arm, B.C. Earl rose at 5 AM every morning before school from the age of five to milk the cows – a responsibility he remembered fondly. He was often accompanied by his pet border collie, Jip.
He taught himself piano and from his early teenage years played accordion in dance bands around Salmon Arm. His children remember with great pleasure evenings where Earl would entertain them on the piano.
He was the first in his family to receive a post-secondary education, earning an undergraduate degree in Agriculture and a Master’s in Economics from UBC. During the summers he worked for BC Forestry, earning enough to pay for school. While at UBC he courted Betty Gilgan, the Fall Fair Queen from Burns Lake. They married in 1959 and moved to Ottawa where they began a family. Earl began what would be an illustrious 35-year career with the federal government as an international agriculture trade policy specialist with the Departments of Agriculture; Industry, Trade and Commerce; and External Affairs Canada. For two years in the 1960s, he lived with his family – now including three rambunctious boys, in Geneva, Switzerland, negotiating global trade.
When the Stewart family returned to Canada, they established a home in a rural area between Orleans and Blackburn Hamlet in Ottawa’s Greenbelt. There the family had two dogs, countless Muscovy ducks, some chickens, and rabbits too. The family home also became the campaign headquarters for Betty’s municipal political career. Earl worked hard for many years pounding campaign posters into the frozen November ground, helping his wife Betty become the first woman elected to Gloucester Township Council, and eventually Gloucester’s first Mayor.
His career saw him become one of Canada’s foremost experts in agriculture trade policy, representing Canada in successive rounds of the GATT negotiations (precursor to the World Trade Organization) from the 1960s until the 1990s. He was one of the stalwarts of the “Cairns Group of Fair Trading Nations” founded to promote trade liberalization in agriculture. He regularly represented Canada at ministerial meetings around the world including Buenos Aires, Santiago, Nairobi, and Chiangmai among others.
Earl returned often to Europe, spending many weeks each year in Geneva and Brussels negotiating agriculture liberalization for the benefit of Canadian farmers, whose situation he knew well from his own farming roots.
Earl was a collector of classic Citroen DS cars – owning over 10 Citroens over his lifetime – a passion he developed during a posting in Geneva in the 1960s. He was a kind, quiet man, entirely devoted to his family. He enjoyed playing badminton, gardening, and was a proud hockey Dad. (6:00 a.m. Leitrim Arena anyone?!) He was an avid classical music lover and a patron of the NAC Orchestra.
In 1992, Earl married Astrid and started a new journey of adventure, laughter and travel. He welcomed Vanya and Sacha as step-sons, later adopting daughters-in-laws Andréanne and Jessica. Over the course of his retirement, Earl also took on the role of cherished grandfather. He always offered a great ear to listen, an abundance of patience, the gift of experience, knowledge, and wisdom, and above all, kindness. In his retirement, he also did volunteer work, helping others in need including Meals on Wheels.
During his last years, he looked after his wife Astrid during prolonged illness, providing attentiveness, care and support, and bearing it stoically.
Earl will be lovingly remembered as a caring father, husband and step-dad – Earl the Pearl – for his sense of humour and love of (bad) puns. Did you hear about that cheese factory that exploded in France? There was nothing left but de Brie!
A Funeral Service has taken place on Thursday, February 2nd, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at the Cole Funeral Home, Pinecrest Cemetery, 2500 Baseline Rd. Private burial to follow. There will also be a Celebration of Life in Salmon Arm, B.C. in the summer of 2023.
The family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to Red Oak Residence in Kanata for their kind and compassionate care. And to Ayden and Annie of Best Life for enriching Earl’s last year. And thank you to Susan Goodridge, his dedicated physiotherapist, who gave him invaluable support over the past 3 ½ years, and his care team, helmed by Dr. Spacek and nurse Angie. Also, to the many doctors, nurses, and support workers in our healthcare system, thank you for your hard work and dedication getting us through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contributions in memory of Earl may be made to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
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