Thursday, June 20, 2024
June 20, 2024


April 28, 1915 –

May 17, 2009

John Gilman died on Salt Spring Island from complications from a fall just weeks after celebrating his 94th birthday with friends and family. A fiercely independent man, who loved the good things in life, John will be missed by all who knew him.

Born in Burma and educated in England, John immigrated to Canada at age 16. He worked on farms before attending the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph. He opened a joint practice in Huntsville, Ontario where he met his future wife Jane Baker Smith, a first year student at OVC. Jane, unfortunately died of cancer in 1988 and is dearly missed by her family.

During WWII, John was a navigator in the RAF. After the war John was appointed to the faculty of the Ontario Veterinary College where he followed an intense teaching & research career path that spanned more than forty years. As professor of Veterinary Medicine with a specialty in Histology, he led the Department of Microanatomy and its research team to actively engage in the fields of cancer and medical genetics. Much of John’s own research over the years was aimed at investigating the link between smoking, nickel exposure and cancer, in part at the invitations of Imperial Tobacco Co. and INCO. Throughout his academic tenure, he impacted the lives of many hundreds of practicing veterinarians nation-wide, graduated students and fellow researchers and enjoyed a very significant international reputation. In addition to his academic pursuits, John served as Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Animal Care in Ottawa, with the responsibility of monitoring animal research facilities at Canadian institutions. Upon his retirement from OVC, John was named Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph. John continued to work as a consultant in Canada and abroad until well into his 70s. A scholarship in his name, the JPW Gilman prize, is awarded annually in his honour to the top OVC student in Histology.

In 1972, John moved to Salt Spring Island, where he enjoyed gardening on his wooded, five acre property. The beginning of Parkinsons forced him to sell his home in 2007 and move into Greenwoods Elder Care, Ganges. John is survived by his five children, Diane, Barbara, Brenda, Robert and Christopher; eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Heartfelt thanks to Deanna Ziraldo whose care and compassion contributed greatly to John’s quality of life during his last years. Thanks also to the nurses and staff of Greenwoods, Lady Minto Hospital and Dr. Woodley for their care and support.

A donation in John’s memory may be made to the research branch, Canadian Cancer Society or Parkinson Society BC.

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Salt Spring Island
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