Guelph NDP Mourns the Loss of Alan Pickersgill

It is with profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of Alan Pickersgill. We extend our sympathy and condolences to his wife Lynne, his children, and the rest of his family. We will miss his wit, wisdom, and camaraderie. You can view his obituary on Guelph Today here. Plans to celebrate his life are still being arranged. In lieu of flowers, Alan’s family is asking for people to consider a donation to the Friends of the Guelph Public Library ( in his memory.

Alan was well–loved by all of us and an active NDP member for so many years. He and his wife Lynne managed Phil Allt’s first federal campaign, working day and night, and he was active in many more. In those days, they were hosts to many lively political and social gatherings.  Alan was a terrific writer and for many years wrote a regular column for The Guelph Tribune. Later, he started to blog. 

Bobbi Stewart ran federally for the Guelph NDP, and like many of us, considered him a dear friend: “Alan was a strong, brilliant man who carried with him a calm, patient demeanour.  When I told the press something he disagreed with, he calmly expressed his disapproval to me and said nothing more. I knew I had disappointed Alan and vowed not to do that again because what he thought meant a lot to me. He was a mentor, and I had such great respect for him.  I know so many others feel the same and Guelph members are mourning today and thinking of Alan’s wife and their adult children.”

David Josephy, a long-time NDP exec member and friend to Alan, says one of his fondest memories is of a party that the Pickersgills hosted nearly two decades ago. “When Jack Layton was considering running for the NDP leadership in the summer of 2002, Lynne and Alan hosted Jack and some local New Democrats for a garden party, and I think that that gathering in Guelph was one of the events that convinced Jack to enter the race.”

Guelph city councillor and former federal NDP candidate, Phil Allt, also remembers that night as being the moment when Jack decided to run: “It was at their house that the late Jack Layton declared he was going to stand for NDP leadership by playing the piano and singing, ‘Hit the Road Jack’.” He says Alan is “best characterized as a Renaissance Man. He was multitalented, active almost to the day he died…To say Alan was forthright is an understatement. A person did not need to ask him for a piece of his mind; he would offer it unsolicited – it could be on politics- don’t get him started on Conservatives–good beer, darts, golf or the Toronto Blue Jays.

I will miss Alan and his dedication to the community. The advice he gave me as my campaign manager when I ran for the NDP, the spot on commentary he wrote for the Guelph Tribune – always “From the Left”, his willingness to run as a municipal candidate. Alan never gave up – even in the face of cancer.

We can all learn from Alan. We can all persevere, we can all stand by our principles, we can all have fun listening to music, cherishing family, wishing better for everyone in a world so unequal. Alan found beauty in nature and shared it in his photos. Alan found partnership and beauty. We can do the same: take time to look around, see what needs correcting, what needs nurturing what needs admiring and what needs loving. When we lost Alan, we lost a gruff, kind, funny, warm Glaswegian the likes of which we might not see again for some time.”

Alan may be gone, but he lives on through all of us and through his writing. His latest blogs speak to his cancer and what his life looked like recently:

We leave you with an email Alan sent to us in 2015 that perfectly illustrates his dry sense of humour:

How can we send out a mass e-mail headlined “Join us on Sunday” which leads off with “Join us for a great time on Sunday” and closes with “See you on Sunday” when the event is on Saturday?


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