Peter Norman Calamai, after a joyful and adventurous life as one of Canada’s most distinguished journalists, died peacefully in his sleep on Jan. 22 at his home in Stratford, Ont. He was 75. His multitude of accolades include three National Newspaper Awards, a Governor-General’s Award, the Order of Canada for service to both journalism and adult literacy, and an honorary doctorate from McMaster University.
McMaster was where this product of Brantford, Ont., was first drawn to journalism, as editor-in-chief of The Silhouette. His professional career began at the Hamilton Spectator, where he mastered several major beats before being promoted to the parent Southam News Service as a national and then foreign correspondent. He headed the Washington, European and African bureaus, covering more than a dozen armed conflicts as well as major political developments. He returned to newspapers as editorial page editor at The Ottawa Citizen, and ended his career as science writer for the Toronto Star. He was also prominent in a national effort to promote adult literacy, after having won the Governor-General’s Award for his breakout series on the issue.
His wife, Mary, accompanied him as administrator in his various bureaus, and together they were enthusiastic supporters of the arts, particularly live theatre. They also both enjoyed regular travel with a large group of friends. Among other pursuits, Peter was a serious book collector and a distinguished Sherlockian, having been awarded the coveted Shilling from the New York-based Baker Street Irregulars and the Silver Shoehorn from the Toronto Bootmakers for his contributions to their learned journals.
In addition to Mary, Peter leaves brother Paul Calamai, and his wife Kathy Sharpe and children Samuel Calamai, Mariah Calamai, Jenna Sharpe, and Lauren Sharpe; and brother Michael Calamai, and his three daughters Deanna, Loren (and her husband Dave Martin), Jane (and her husband Steve Osment), his son Damian and seven brothers and sisters-in-law on Mary’s side and numerous nieces and nephews.
A private service has been held in Stratford and a celebration of life will be held later this year. As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to the R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship at Carlton University or to Plan Canada through the W.G. Young Funeral Home, 430 Huron Street, Stratford. 519.271.7411 www.wgyoungfuneralhome.com
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