EASON, Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert Eason, 70, passed away peacefully at his home in Wawa, Ontario, on October 19, 2023.

The Celebration of Life to remember Gord will be held on Saturday June 15, 2024, from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Michipicoten Community Centre, Wawa. You are invited to join in with your memories of Gord. If you are unable to be with us in person, your stories and remembrances are welcome by email to [email protected]   You will also be able to join in by livestream; this will be available at 1:00 p.m. until the stories run out! The link is: https://event.forgetmenotceremonies.com/ceremony?c=8f266aa4-812e-4c89-a275-3a31fd812132

 

Gord was known for his curiosity, thoughtfulness, and deep love and respect for all living things. Despite being a self-proclaimed recluse, his many loved ones will remember him for his good humour, his mischievous streak, and his masterful storytelling.

 

On August 16, 1953, in Lindsay, Ontario, Gord was born to loving parents Dorothy (2017) and Gordon (1971). He was soon joined by his younger sister, Gail.

Gord studied biology at the University of Toronto, where he made lifelong friends, pulled creative pranks involving bathroom stall doors, and cemented his passion for the natural world. Gord often quoted one of his professors, who would say, “If you play your cards right, you too can see the animals we study here.”

 

Gord played his cards right by moving to Northern Ontario to become a conservation biologist. He spent his career protecting threatened animal populations such as the Lake Superior caribou and advocating for biodiverse, balanced natural systems.

 

Having lost his father at a young age, Gord did not envision a future with a family of his own. That all changed when he met Lynn Dee in Wawa. Their planned elopement (1988) was kept secret until the beans were spilled that morning and their wedding became a surprise party to the delight of all. They were a natural couple right from the start, supporting each other and sharing a good life.

 

Gord and Lynn Dee had two children, Matthew and Heather. Gord loved sharing his relationship to nature with his kids, and no number of blackflies or mosquitos could stop him from taking them hiking, fishing, or camping. Matt and Heather will fondly remember being woken up at three in the morning, wrapped in cozy blankets, and carried outside to watch the northern lights or a meteor shower.

 

The Easons had several opportunities to travel, most often to destinations that featured moose. Gord and Lynn Dee attended moose conferences in the US, Finland, Sweden, and Russia, where they enjoyed the local art, architecture, and customs (with Gord’s notable exception of jumping into a frozen lake after a Scandinavian sauna).

 

Gord also travelled with family to England and Scotland to retrace his ancestry and to Ecuador to marvel at some of Earth’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Gord’s curiosity extended to all that he encountered on these trips, from learning how scotch is made to taking a twelve-hour bus trip from the Andes to the Amazon just so he could see everything along the way.

 

Despite his love of animals, Gord had never had a pet. But when Lynn Dee brought home a Welsh Terrier named Bran, the two quickly became inseparable. He jokingly referred to himself as the dog’s personal assistant, and he wrote surprisingly poignant emails about their walks and adventures together. His second dog, a Wire Fox Terrier named Bebop, was equally happy to accompany him in the bush or on Gord’s frequent visits to friends in assisted living facilities.

Gord never hesitated to lend a helping hand, and could often be found roofing with neighbours or shoveling extra driveways. He had an extensive knowledge of how things worked, and if he did not have the answers, he would diligently figure them out.

 

On the job, Gord contributed his keen intellect, out-of-the box thinking, and talent for community outreach and education, as well as a passion for fieldwork and a thorough understanding of the land he cared for on behalf of the people of Ontario.

 

His fieldwork included hand-digging ditches beside the highway to prevent moose collisions, standing waist deep in the Montreal River to ensure fish habitat health, and wrestling the occasional bear or caribou.

 

On a calmer day, you might have found Gord behind precarious mountains of paperwork in his office, educating hunters about population management, or bringing schoolkids to release a bald eagle into the wild.

 

He received many accolades and honours throughout his career, including the Ontario Government’s Amethyst Award for outstanding public service and an eagle feather from Michipicoten First Nation – a treasured gift.

 

Gord was known throughout Wawa as the one to call about any injured wildlife, and his backyard has served as a rehabilitation centre for moose calves, eagles, owls, and more. He made full use of Lynn Dee’s experience with live animals and taught his kids to care for them as well. On one memorable occasion, Gord’s lesson was how to “slowly and carefully” pry a hawk’s talons out of his arm.

 

Upon his retirement in 2011, Gord’s project was to “make someone’s day every day.” He excelled at that, and was always ready to offer a wave, a joke, or an interesting anecdote to friends and strangers alike. Gord loved to share the best of life with others, whether by taking visitors out on a tour of Wawa and Lake Superior or by preparing scotch tastings for his friends. The only thing he wouldn’t share was the location of his secret fishing spot.

 

His retirement plans changed in 2014 when Michipicoten Island’s caribou, a population that he had established over 30 years prior, fell under threat from wolves. Gord was driven to continue his conservation work as a retiree; he collaborated with local partners to rescue caribou and transport them to a nearby island, with the goal of reestablishing the population and fostering genetic diversity for generations to come. Up until his final day, he continued to work on plans to preserve Lake Superior’s caribou and restore them to their full natural range.

 

If you would like to help continue Gord’s work, write to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and your local MPP to let them know that you support conserving caribou and reintroducing them to their North Shore range.

Gord is survived by his wife Lynn Dee, his sister Gail, his son Matthew (Lee), and his daughter Heather (Danny). He loved his family, including many nieces, nephews, and cousins. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations made to the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists Club or the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy.

 

We hope you think of Gord when you hear Miles Davis, and that you, like Gord, enjoy the road less traveled.

6 comments

  1. We wish to acknowledge with our deepest thanks the excellent care Gord received from the doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and staff both here in Wawa and in Sault Ste. Marie. Each of you made this path a little easier with your skill and compassion.

    With grateful hearts,

    The Eason Family

  2. Deepest condolences Lynn Dee. Gord will be greatly missed by everyone. He truly cared for our community and especially our precious wildlife. Gord was always so pleasant when we met walking our fur-babies.

  3. A great homage to a great man!

  4. Hi Lynn Dee, I have fond memories of Gord.
    I remember Steve telling me the story of Gord wrestling the Caribou in the cages, I believe on the Slate Islands for transfer to Michipicoten. Steve and I were trying not to laugh to hard, I can only imagine witnessing Gord wrestle mania cage match then Steve jumping into help.
    I had some great conversations with Gord over moose management, me being a hunter and Gord following his principles.
    I will fondly remember Gord.
    All the best, John

  5. I am very sorry to hear of Gord’s passing, and my deep sympathies go out to his family. Gord and I crossed paths many times in our careers – first dealing with moose attraction to roadside salty pools in Lake Superior Park, on forest audits where he expressed strong concerns about effects of forest management on wildlife, and most recently related to the Lake Superior caribou. Gord was incredibly devoted to his passion for nature and did not let the bureaucracy of being a government employee stand in the way of doing what he believed to be right – and I admired him for that.

  6. I am very sorry for your loss. Gord meant a lot to many people and will be missed by my family. Take care and thinking of you.

    God Bless

    Isabella Nowiski

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