Peter Hullett Desbarats, son of Hullett John Desbarats and Margaret Ogston Desbarats (Rettie), passed away peacefully of natural causes on 11 February 2014 at 6:30 a.m. after a battle with Alzheimer's Disease. He is survived by his loving wife, Hazel, and his children Michelle, Gabrielle (deceased), Lissa, Sharon, Brynne, Shasta, Nicholas, Jane, Jennifer, Jane, and Jonathan, and his 11 grandchildren. Peter was a widely-recognized figure in Canadian print and broadcast journalism. From his beginnings as a copy boy in the 1950s, he rose quickly to write for The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, The Montreal Gazette and many more of Canada's largest newspapers. In the 1960's, 70's and 80's, Peter became a well-known television broadcast journalist, hosting political affairs shows and co-anchoring Global News, among other programs. A sought-after advisor and media expert, he led or consulted on many high-profile public inquiries and research initiatives, including his role as a Commissioner on the federal government's Somalia inquiry during the late 90's. From 1981 to 1996, Peter was the Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario. A prolific writer, he authored twelve books during his career, including a best-selling profile of René Lévesque and three children's books. Visitation on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm at Harris Funeral Home, 220 St. James St. at Richmond, London. The funeral service will be conducted at Colborne Street United Church, 711 Colborne Street at Piccadilly, London, on Friday, February 14 at 11 am by The Rev. David R. Carrothers. Memorial contributions to the McCormick Home Foundation (Alzheimer Outreach Services) would be gratefully acknowledged.
Don (Scotty) Campbell
February 13, 2014, 2:29 pm
Peter and I were best friends way back in the Loyola, Montreal days (late 40s). Then I had the honour and pleasure of being his best man at his earlier marriage, and am the Godfather to one of the daughters of that marriage. Then we went off in greatly different directions; but I have followed Peter’s very interesting and challenging series of careers over the years, including a visit with him when he was a Dean at Western and my 2 sons attended there. A life well lived. Bon Voyage, old friend.
Don (Scotty) Campbell
February 23, 2014, 4:20 pm
I knew Peter from Loyola High School in Montreal and afterwards in his early days in journalism. He was smart, well read. and had a great sense of humour. He was fun to be with. We also crossed paths a few times when I was in Ottawa . My sincere condolences to his entire family.
February 13, 2014, 1:59 pm
I am so sorry for your loss. Peter made the world better for so many people at Western and in Canada and abroad. My sympathies go out to you and your family.
February 11, 2014, 9:09 pm
I am sorry to hear of Peter's passing. I was one of a group of teachers who went with him to Nairobi in 1993. He was a tireless, good-humoured and highly professional journalist. My condolences to his family.
February 11, 2014, 10:33 pm
I worked with Peter at the Graduate School of Journalism when Peter was Dean 1981-1997. Those were great innovative times as internet technology was born and exploded. Always classy, Peter was also available for a chat. My sincere condolences go out to Hazel and the rest of his family.
February 18, 2014, 3:09 pm
In the early 1990s, I had the pleasure of working with Peter to create the Environmental Issues For Journalists summer course at Western. He was a real pro, and played a very important role in improving journalism in Canada. He will be missed by many.
February 14, 2014, 3:33 pm
"The world is a better place because he has lived. A journalist with a social"l conscience, Winnipeg, 1907. Somethings must never change
February 13, 2014, 8:10 pm
My condolences on the passage of a wonderful newsman. As a child growing up in Montreal, I have vivid memories of him on CBC's local news. His charismatic approach inspired me to become interested in following the news of the day and I believe becoming an engaged citizen of Canada.
I always liked his style.
February 12, 2014, 4:21 pm
Peter was dean for most of the 13 years I taught journalism at Western. He was a man of integrity and intelligence and a pleasure to work for. It goes without saying that he was also a top-flight journalist. My heart goes out to you, Hazel.
Les and Judie Sparling
February 12, 2014, 6:25 pm
Hazel and family,
We were so saddened to learn of Peter's passing. He was such a remarkable man. May the wonderful memories and the love of family and friends help you through this difficult time.
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