“Lucky people remain dreamers until the end.” Bob Day, 2012
Robert Mervyn Day was born February 7, 1942. His older sisters Barbara (predeceased) and Susan Riddell (nee Day) welcomed him to their home in North Bay, Ontario. Shortly after his birth, they moved to Sarnia where their childhood included fries under the bridge and camping trips to Pinery Provincial Park with their parents, Mervyn and Joyce (predeceased). Bob always longed for wilder spaces and made his way north to Lakehead College/University in Thunder Bay. There, he met Joan Gibb who became his wife, partner and eventually committed caregiver during their 52 year marriage.
Their early adventures were wide ranging – taking them from the East Coast, where Bob earned a Bachelor of Science and Forestry from the University of New Brunswick, to the Northwest Territories and many places in between. One of Bob’s earliest jobs was as the Lake Simcoe District Parks Naturalist based out of Maple, Ontario. There, he and Joan cherished the two-month life of their first son, Benjamin. Another significant stop was in Merrickville, Ontario where their two surviving children, Jeremy and Tobin, developed their early memories. Bob and his family followed his evolving career in protecting Canada’s natural places and eventually settled in Grey/Bruce in the 1980’s.
Bob is most well-known for his work in the creation of Fathom Five National Marine Park and Bruce Peninsula National Park. In a recent documentary about the early days of the park, he was described as the government’s ‘secret weapon’ in getting the local communities to support the establishment of these two beautiful protected spaces.
Throughout his retirement, Bob sought out meaningful projects, activities and remained engaged in life to the best of his abilities. He became a real estate agent, documented the history of the Bruce Peninsula parks in his book Shores of Heaven, and sailed to as many of the least visited places on Georgian Bay that he could find, often sharing the adventure with Jeremy.
Bob spent his last days at Summit Place under the care of their committed staff and his devoted wife, Joan. He passed away June 5, 2019. A private celebration of his life will be held later this summer. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Friends of the Bruce District Parks Association or the Alzheimer Society of Ontario.