My dad died.

Last week was a pretty strange week. First my dad died on Jan. 12, 2018. He was just shy of his 90th birthday. He was cremated according to his wishes. Then there was a visitation for him on the 20th. I saw people I hadn’t seen in forty years.  The funeral home could barely accommodate the people who came then. Then on the 22nd I had to say my last goodbye to him.  The memorial service was really something. I think my mom was pretty overwhelmed by the number of people that came to pay their last respects. He passed away from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Sometimes I catch myself talking about him as if he were still alive. Goodbye dad, I love you and miss you.

The following is a re-post of the Michael J. Morris Reports blog about my dad. Thank you Michael for permission to re-post this fine bit of reporting.

Allan McNiece ‘Mac’ Austin member of one of Chapleau’s earliest families, lawyer, judge, athlete dies

Allan McNiece ‘Mac’ Austin, a member of the family who established the first store in Chapleau, a lawyer and judge on the Superior Court and Court of Appeal for Ontario, died on January 12, 2018.

His obituary notes that Mr. Austin was the beloved husband of Margaret Kyle for 66 years. Adored father of Allan (Lyn), Jim (Sue) and Tom (Rosaria). Devoted and loving grandfather of Maggie (Jeremy Packard), Gren, Graham (Mallory Lazarus) and Michael.

Born in Chapleau in 1928, he was the third son of Allan McNiece Austin and Alice Dickinson. He was predeceased by his brother, James McNiece; and is survived by his brothers, John Beresford and Richard Jackson; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Uncle Ric (L), Dad,  ?, Uncle John, Uncle Jim


Writing in Chapleau Trails, edited and published by Dr. William R. Pellow, Mr. Austin wrote that his great uncle T.A. Austin established a store in tent at Chapleau in late 1885, and in 1886 moved to a building on Birch Street. The tent store was located in “old Chapleau” near the site of Lady Minto Hospital.

His grandfather James McNiece Austin arrived shortly thereafter, took over the store and operated it until 1904. His father after whom he was named was born in 1896.

The T. A. Austin store

By the late 1890s, their lumber business was established cutting ties for the Canadian Pacific Railway eventually becoming the biggest supplier of ties to the railway. In 1901, his grandfather and G.B. Nicholson became partners. Mr. Nicholson became the first reeve of Chapleau, also in 1901.

By about 1908, Mr. Austin wrote that his grandfather took over operation of a hydro electric operation. It had been owned by Mageau and Leblanc lumber.

His grandfather, who had served in World War I  died in 1922, and Mr. Nicholson, became president of the lumber company with his father as vice president.

Growing up in Chapleau, he spent his summers working for the family business.

‘Mac’  was born in Chapleau, and received his early education at Chapleau Public and Chapleau High Schools, before following his older brothers south to attend Trinity College School in Port Hope. He went on to Victoria College at the University of Toronto and was a member of the first class to graduate from the University of Toronto Law School.

Dad with my cousin Rozzie


His obituary notes he was a student, associate, partner and managing partner with the firm now called WeirFoulds, LLP. From 1987 to 2003 he served as a judge in the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. After retiring from the bench he returned to WeirFoulds and participated in arbitration and mediation work.

WeirFoulds,LLP notes on its web site that “The Honourable Allan McNiece Austin is counsel to the firm, providing the insight and experience of 32 years of practice and 17 years on the bench. Mac was an articling student, lawyer and partner at Mason, Foulds (now WeirFoulds LLP) from 1952 to 1986. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario (Trial Division) (now the Superior Court) in December 1986, and to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in May 1992.

Upon his death, the law firm added “Mac was a trusted mentor, a consummate professional, and a wonderful person. He will be greatly missed.”

His obituary says that “He was a natural athlete and an accomplished cross-country runner, and he loved sailing and skiing well into his later years. He was a dedicated and long-time member of Eglinton St. George’s United Church. He loved God, his family and his work. He loved life.”
A Service of Thanksgiving was  held on Monday, January 22nd at 2:00 Eglinton St. George’s United Church.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Mac’s memory to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 20 Eglinton Avenue West, 16th Floor, Toronto M4R 1K8, Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through

I extend my deepest sympathy to his family as well as my sincere thanks to his niece Elizabeth Austin for her assistance.My email is


Posted by Michael J Morris at 4:08 AM

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Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet

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