Peter Barrett

Obituary of Peter Fowler Barrett

Peter Fowler Barrett   1939—2019

"It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Barrett announces his passing on August 21 2019, peacefully at the age of 80, with his family by his side.  Son of the late H.J.H. (Tim) Barrett and the late Dorothy MacPherson. Cherished father to Christopher and Jenny (Steve).  Beloved Bepa of Cassie and adored GrandpaPeter of Katherine, and Sarah.  Dear brother of the late James (Judith) and of the late Michael (Terry), and affectionate uncle to Kim, Scott, Allison, and Andrea.  Devoted husband and lifelong partner of Karen, who passed away 2 weeks later on Sept 5, 2019."

Peter was born in Port Dover in 1939 in the family home on Prospect Hill, just down the street from young Karen Kolbe; by 1948 he had carved their initials together into a maple tree.   Peter earned full scholarships to study at Queen’s (B.Sc., M.Sc.) and as a Junior Fellow of Massey College, U. Toronto (Ph.D.), before he and Karen sailed away to London for 2 years as newlyweds in the 1960s with a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Imperial College.  They returned to Canada in 1967 to settle in Peterborough, raising their family along the banks of the Otonabee River just outside town.

As a Professor at Trent University for 30 years, Peter’s gifted teaching touched the lives of many students in his First-Year Chemistry and Environmental Sciences classes.   As a talented researcher and patented inventor he was elected Fellow of the Chemistry Institute of Canada, and served the University community as Don of Trail College, Department Chair for a decade, and then another decade as Trent’s Dean of Science.  Family will always cherish memories of sabbatical years living in Yorkshire in the ‘70s, and in Colorado in the ‘80s. 

Peter was also a talented and accomplished musician, and in Peterborough he much enjoyed singing and touring with the Choir of All Saints’ Anglican Church alongside both his children, where he also served as Assistant Organist for more than 30 years.  Peter and Karen returned to their hometown of Port Dover in 1999, building a retirement home on Lake Erie where the old family cottage stood, with his vegetable garden, sailboat, piano, and basement laboratory for his continued experiments in home wine and beer making, pickles and preserves.  

Peter shared much of his retirement time volunteering again with local choirs, running youth music festivals, traveling to operas, and serving as church organist in Port Dover.  Peter will always be remembered for how much he enjoyed hosting large and lively family gatherings, complete with him at his piano singing, and demonstrating his latest home-built squirrel-proofing contraptions for his many birdfeeders; a few of which even worked.  His kind and gentle nature, and quick warm smile, will be missed by everyone who knew him.

In keeping with his wishes, cremation has taken place and no funeral service will be held.  A celebration-of-lives for both Peter and Karen is planned in Peterborough for Saturday September 28th 1pm, at All Saints’ Church and Parish Hall.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a local youth music charity of your choice.  A fund has been set up to receive donations with tax receipts at Trent University, where student awards/fellowships are being created in honour of Peter and Karen Barrett.  Peter and his Family will always be grateful to the wonderful staff of CBI Home Nursing in Norfolk County, and of the oncology and 3E/4B units at McMaster’s teaching hospitals in Brantford, and in Simcoe.  On-line donations and/or condolences can be made at

Celebration of Life

at All Saints' Church and Parish Hall, Peterborough, Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 1 pm
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