Alan SCARTH Obituary (2021) – The Globe and Mail


ALAN WILLIAM SCARTH Alan William Scarth, CM, QC passed away on August 13, 2021. He had hoped he would live to see a solution to the existential threat of global warming. But climate change is a multigenerational challenge. Alan was born March 9, 1922 in Winnipeg, the son of Winnifred Lillian Scarth (nee Coulson) and H. St. Clair Scarth, KC of Virden, Manitoba. Alan was the larger-than-life older brother of Catherine Maclean (John) and twin brothers, David (Sandra) and Richard (Jilian) Scarth, and a loving uncle to his many nieces and nephews. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1942, Alan enlisted in the RCAF and served from 1942 to 1945 as Flight Lieutenant (Navigator) with the 547 Squadron, RAF. Their nine-person crew flew a Liberator from Leuchars Air Force Base in Scotland. Their D-Day mission was to intercept U-boats seeking to disrupt the Allied invasion of occupied Europe. His comfort during this time, away from home in a war-weary nation, was a collection of poetry called Other Men’s Flowers. In 2019, he gave each of his grandchildren a copy of this collection, hoping it would be a comfort to them too. Alan was introduced to Helen Isabel Dundee when she handed legal documents to her father’s law firm. He immediately recognized her beautiful red hair and remembered her winning tennis style on the courts of the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club. They were married in Winnipeg in February 1953. They raised four children while living in the home they loved on the Red River at 409 North Drive: Rachael (Peter Watson), Shelagh (Mark Andrews), Jonathan St. Clair (Shelley Matkowski) and Sarah Jennifer (Nelson Svorkdal). He considered the next generation, his thirteen grandchildren, his true heritage and he kept an eye on each of them: Tom, Alec and Maryann Watson, Robin, Claire, Jonathan and Will Andrews, Kate and Alan Scarth, Josef, Annika , Bjorn and Jakob Svorkdal, plus his great-grandson, Grayson Scarth Jensen Andrews. They and their partners were all grateful recipients of his love, which he expressed by sharing stories and humor, taking notes about them in his DayTimer, asking them probing questions and calling them “my.” friend”. Alan and Helen have cherished 62 years together and have never been without a plan or project. They have collaborated to create educational, entertainment and enrichment opportunities for the family and the community at large. Many Winnipeg tennis players have fond memories of the Tennis 70s, a youth team, and a training opportunity that was new at the time. The Scarths enjoyed life on the river all year round – cleaning ice for rinks, cross-country skiing, observing spring break-up, and creating habitat to bring wood ducks to the river bank. . The years of great flooding were notable events, with hot dogs and a warm welcome for all who came to lift sandbags in the battle to save North Drive from rising waters. The family loved to travel, both overseas and on the Prairies. In the 1930s, while on a fishing trip with his father, Alan set his sights on building a cabin in the Whiteshell. He started building in the 1960s, and like every building project he has ever started, there were plenty of good people invited to join in. He was sixty years old to enjoy it with his family, friends and the ever-present Springer Spaniels. The lake connected us to each other as we disconnected from the larger world and came to know the freedom and self-reliance that comes from being “away from help, never forget it”. After being called to the Bar of Manitoba in 1948, Alan’s practice focused on litigation, corporate law, cooperative law and environmental law. He acted as legal advisor to the Provincial Minister of Natural Resources (Dutch Elm Disease) and the Premier (The Garrison Diversion Project). His legal work for Harold and Ed Tetzlaff in the Rafferty Alameda Dam case has gone through the courts to the Supreme Court of Canada, providing constitutional protection for environmental assessments. Alan received the Order of Canada (2001) and the Manitoba Bar Association Distinguished Service Award (2014) in recognition of these and other accomplishments. Alan was an extraordinary advisor and communicator, appreciating every detail of any topic, and although practicing law was his profession, he always had energy to devote to his other pursuits. He was the provincial squash racket champion and played until his knees no longer allowed him to. He played hockey growing up, like any Canadian child, and jumped at the chance to play for Oxford in 1949, notably at the Spengler Cup. Alan continued and expanded his father’s plan to develop the Manitoba Game and Fish Association (now the Manitoba Wildlife Federation) to promote fish and wildlife conservation. Long before smartphones, Alan believed that future generations of urban children were in danger of becoming increasingly detached from the land that supported them. The Fort Whyte Center (now FortWhyte Alive) was created through many years of legal skill and tenacity, with a group of like-minded friends. A reclaimed clay mine and cement factory has become a 660-acre educational hub, with the goal of giving a sense of the connectivity of all life and highlighting our responsibility to solve the climate change crisis. Alan had a sense of the occasion and was delighted to bring together groups of friends and family – including on annual spring fishing and fall hunting trips – to explore topics ranging from l ecology to mechanics. He had an insatiable curiosity for people, and schedules fell by the wayside for impromptu lineage and career explorations, always ending with advice. He was endowed with a keen sense of humor and invested in elaborate gags. An April Fool’s Day joke involved the careful preparation and posting of a City of Winnipeg Development Notice, which showed the neighborhood golf course giving way to intense residential development. He was an avid time columnist at home and abroad, leaving our family volumes of diaries and bird guides filled with notes on spring arrivals. Alan was almost 100 years of long, wide and deep life, and he wasted little time. His longevity, he recognized as good fortune; the depth and breadth of his life which he saw as a responsibility. He will be remembered as an intelligent and serious man. He had that rare ability to break through the everyday, to leave a lasting impression on the many people he spoke with, even in a brief encounter. He lived with urgency and vigor; he was contemplative and impatient, creative and motivated, thoughtful and direct. He firmly believed in the Continuum of Life, that the lessons we learn and the gains we achieve should be passed on in the fullness of time. He was dedicated to knowing and honoring his elders and ancestors and, also, to creating opportunities and expectations for future generations. Alan ordered that there be no memorial service. Donations can be made in his memory to the Alan Scarth Endowment Fund for Climate Change at FortWhyte Alive:

Published in The Globe and Mail from August 28 to September 1, 2021.


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