Justice J. Peter Coulson
July 9, 1939 - August 30, 2017
Passed away peacefully at home in Cobourg at the age of 78.
Greatly mourning his loss are his wife of 52 years, Janet (Barnum) Coulson, sons Michael and David, their wives Adrienne and Judi and grandchildren Adelaide, Finlay, Bennett and Grayden as well as many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews.
Peter Coulson was born in the front parlor of the Lovekin family home in Newcastle Ontario. His father William (Bill) Coulson’s only sister, Helen (Coulson) Lovekin had played match-maker when her brother Bill returned from WWI, pairing him with friend Evelyne (Wires) Minty. Bill worked the lift in the Post Office on Adelaide St. in Toronto before trying his hand at farming on Amherst Island, and Evelyn worked at Birks in the import business. Together they invested every dollar they had into Peter, who worked his entire life to repay this debt to his parents, to his community to his own children and even his grandchildren.
While he joked that he “left Collège Militaire Royal before they could throw me out”, he successfully entered Queen’s University (Arts ’63, Law ’65) thanks to a loan from Principal Mackintosh. At Queen’s he met his love and life-long partner, Janet (Arts ’63).
Peter practiced law for a short time in Port Colborne, Ontario before becoming an Assistant Crown Attorney in Welland in 1969. He was appointed Crown Attorney in Napanee in 1976, and four years later was elevated to the Provincial Court, Criminal Division, splitting his time between Napanee and Belleville. In later years he would spread his judiciary duties across much of Ontario jovially remarking: “Have gavel; will travel”.
Not an overly academic jurist, Justice Coulson eschewed the mathematical precision of legal scholars to employ his own brand of moral pragmatism. In each case he strove to balance the facts and the individuals involved with the letter of the law, to mete out decisions that were just and not simply legally accurate. He was part of the creation of a judicial counselling system to support his colleagues on the bench who were going through immense job stresses. As a judge, he particularly enjoyed the privilege of marrying young couples.
He showed the same strong moral compass in his devotion to public service. He dedicated over 50 years to Rotary, building parks and pools, forging international ties via youth exchange, and pursuing lofty goals like the eradication of polio worldwide. He devoted much time and effort on the board of the Lennox and Addington County General Hospital as well as the Ontario Hospital Association, and gave generously to Queen’s and innumerable charities. And he took his boys to thousands of 6:00am hockey games and never once complained.
Peter put family and friends above all. His time and devotion to bringing us together will be one of the things we miss the most.
The family will host a visitation at MacCoubrey Funeral Home, 30 King St E, Cobourg on Saturday, September 2, 2017 from 7-9pm. They will host a second visitation at Wartman Funeral Home - Napanee Chapel on Sunday, September 3, 2017 from 1-3pm. Funeral Service will follow in the Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Justice Coulson’s name to Queen’s University, Canadian Cancer Society or the Napanee District Community Foundation. On-line condolences at www.wartmanfuneralhomes.com.
Saturday, September 2 from 7-9 p.m.
MacCoubrey Funeral Home, Cobourg
Visitation with a Service
Sunday, September 3 from 1-3 with service at 3 p.m.
Wartman Funeral Home,
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