Douglas Grant Pearce

Memorial tributes may be made to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, or share a comment here In The Hills.

July 10, 2013 | | Blogs | Countryside Digest | Departments | Environment

July 20, 1936 – June 30, 2013

Doug passed away peacefully at home in Mono, Ont., in the early hours of June 30th, due to complications of cancer. He was surrounded by his loved ones in his last moments and died quietly in the arms of his beloved wife, Signe Ball.

He will always be profoundly missed by his son Philip Pearce, his daughter Tralee Pearce, her husband Grant Ellis, Doug’s step-daughter Kirsten Ball and her husband J.P. Perreault.

He was known as Grand-Doug to his granddaughter Kate Perreault, and Grandpa to his grandson Hadden Ellis. They shared Doug’s addiction to books and his love of ice cream and chocolate, which they gleefully enjoyed with him at every opportunity.

Also feeling this deep loss are Signe’s sisters, Dyanne Rivers and Rhondda Snary and their partners, Bill Williams and Adrienne Reynolds, Doug’s cousin, Barry Kerr, and the Pemberton clan.

Doug was predeceased by his father, Grant Pearce, in 1984 and his mother, Val Pearce, in 2002. His first wife, Nan Pearce, died in 1995. He was a loyal presence by their sides in their times of need.

Doug’s mother gave birth to him during a break in the 1936 Toronto heat wave. He was raised in the city’s north end, attending Earl Haig Collegiate Institute and graduating in 1955. He spent three summers in basic flight training with the RCAF while attending the University of Toronto, where he obtained a BA in psychology in 1960. A man of substantial intellect, he followed that with a PhD in experimental psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. He often spoke fondly of his Baltimore years.

Upon his return, he joined the Defence Research Board of the Department of National Defence and worked at the Downsview lab as a research scientist in human factors, mainly visual matters, until he retired in 1995.

He married Nan DuMoulin of London, Ont., in 1968, and they began their family life on a farm near Campbellville. Tralee was born in 1969, Philip in 1972. The family moved to the farm in Mono in 1974, where Doug became an even more ardent tree-lover, conservationist and environmentalist. The natural beauty of his surroundings became integral to his identity as the years went on.

He married Signe Ball in 1998 and settled into a happy rhythm with her on the farm, where she runs her magazine, In The Hills. They have been, quite simply, devoted to one another from their first date.

In a Pearce family history he researched and wrote to commemorate Hadden’s birth in 2009, Doug summed up his days with his trademark wit: ”Perfectly suited to retirement, I work on family genealogy and history, read mysteries and a lot of non-fiction, bush-hog pastures occasionally, garden even less, cook everyday (non-critical) meals, do some puzzles, and sift through various publications for material for a column of quotes in the magazine.”

He did a whole lot more than that, acting as the magnetic centre of a busy family. After a cancer diagnosis late last year, Doug fought every new, unwelcome challenge with the dignity and stoicism that characterized his whole life and will continue to inspire those of us who adored him.

We’d like to thank friends and family, whose visits, well-wishes, favours and various foodstuffs were a comfort. The family would like to extend a special thank you to so many of the nurses, doctors and health professionals who helped Doug, especially the talented and caring team at Bayshore Home Health, who made Doug’s last transition home a little less heartbreaking for all of us.

~ Written by Doug’s daughter Tralee Pearce.

Memorial tributes may be made in Doug’s name to the Nature Conservancy of Canada ( or 416-932-3202).

Feel free to leave notes and comments below, and Doug’s Countryside Digest will live on digitally as a memory of his interest in our environment and science with his unique sense of humour.

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  1. I knew Doug for just a year – Sept 1963 through Sept 1964, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
    He was by any measure an exceptional man – humor above all, then his love of motorcycles, then
    his critical intellect. In that last he was way, way sharper than average.
    In that year he became my best friend. But after he graduated from JHU we completely lost touch until recently. I still have his motorcycle – a BSA Gold Star. We each got married for the first time in 1968. I am luckier in that my wife’s still going.

    Everyone who met Doug wound up close to him – a tribute to his warm, humorous personality. I regret that so much time passed with him north of the border and me south, but at least we were able to
    trade some emails last year.

    I’m going to miss that guy. A lot.


    Robin Kinkead from long Lake WI, USA on Oct 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Tralee: You wrote a beautiful tribute to your father. I never had the opportunity to meet him, though after reading your stories and hearing so much about him, it is clear that he was a very special man. You are all very fortunate to have known and loved him…..and to have been loved by him.
    My condolences to Signe and all of your family.

    Laurie May from Mono on Jul 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Reply

  3. The few times my family had the pleasure of meeting Doug, was at their home in the countryside. He wore a wonderful, pleasant smile and had a wonderful demeanour….always. A person that was living the life he loved. Deeply sorry for your loss.

    Shelagh Armstrong on Jul 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Reply

  4. I never met Doug, but I want to give my condolences to his family. I am very sorry for your loss and may he live in your memories and hearts for ever.

    pia wiesen on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:27 am | Reply

  5. We will miss Doug’s fabulous column, snippets from around the world, so relevant to all our lives. Our condolences to Signe and all your family.
    One of my personal favouites – A great reflection on a brilliant mind and the wonderful gentle person that was Doug.

    Alison Hird from Caledon on Jul 12, 2013 at 12:24 am | Reply

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