Geoffrey Stephen Peruniak

March 26, 1950 ~ July 16, 2019 (age 69)


Geoff Peruniak


Geoff died July 16, 2019, in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Edmonton. In the last two weeks of his life, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare set of conditions involving an aggressive lymphoma. During this time, we witnessed his great courage, his courtesy to all, and his concern for us, his family. We would like to thank Dr. Michael Burger and the Emergency Department in Athabasca and the many staff in Edmonton, particularly Dr. Curtis Johnston of the ICU, for their professional care. Thanks also to Christina Gobel of Athabasca Community Chapel for her guidance. Cremation has taken place; there will be no public memorial at this time. Please consider donating to the Athabasca Public Library and Archives or the Canadian Canoe Museum, Peterborough, ON, or giving blood.

Geoff was born in Kenora and spent his youth in Kingston and Atikokan, Ontario. He was a member of the Atikokan Outers program, making winter and summer trips into Quetico. He also canoed there and in the Boundary Waters when he was an instructor at the Minnesota Outward Bound School in Ely. In 1966, he was selected to paddle on the Ontario team in the Centennial Canoe Pageant. That year he paddled with a contingent of voyageurs from Montreal to New York City to promote the celebrations. In 1967, the Pageant set out from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, and travelled/raced to Expo' in Montreal, 3280 miles. He was one of the two youngest voyageurs. This was a defining event in his life. After moving to Alberta, he and our sons helped construct the pavilion that displays the Alberta Centennial Canoe at the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site. His name is on a plaque there with his fellow voyageurs.

Geoff was a graduate of Queen's University and the University of Toronto (OISE). In 1979, he joined Athabasca University and played a significant role in developing the Psychology Department and Program. He was particularly interested in experiential learning, prior learning assessment, and career development. In 1984, our family moved to Athabasca; what luck to be able to work at a university in a small northern community and to live and raise a family in the bush! Geoff brought his whole person to his job: canoeing analogies and personal anecdotes crept into his academic writing, lunchtimes were spent skiing or running on the Muskeg Creek Trails to clear his head and develop ideas, and many colleagues and visitors to the university will recall being encouraged into canoes for a paddle down the Athabasca. He became Professor Emeritus on his retirement in 2015.

As well as being an experienced canoeist, Geoff was a keen skier, birdwatcher, tracker, bowyer, folk musician, and an avid reader. He was my best friend, my trusted sternsman, my loving husband of almost 46 years, and the loving father of our children and their families. We miss him sorely: Ryan and Helena (Mahoney), Waterton Park, AB; Kyle and Carla (Morey), Lana and Liam, Chemainus, BC; Blair and Kristin (Bjornerud), Montreal, QC; and Lindsay and Ian (Cox), Kellan and Kalea, Vernon, BC. He is also missed by his mother, Shirley, Sharbot Lake, ON; stepmother, Wendy Stewart, and sisters, Jennifer and Katie Peruniak, Kingston, ON; brother-in-law Adam Gagnon and family, Moricetown, BC; other family members in Canada, the U.S. and overseas; and his best friends. He is predeceased by his father, Bill, and sister, Jain Peruniak.

All the tributes and support we have received are a timely reminder of the richness of our lives. We thank you all.


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