Arnold Dagenais

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It was with much sorrow that Director General Normand Bernier informed us that one of Vanier's founders, Arnold Dagenais passed away on Friday, January 8, 2016. Arnold retired from the College in March 2000. He had been with Vanier since its founding in 1970, initially as a Chemistry teacher, and then going on to serve as our Dean of Science and General Studies for many years.

Arnold will be cremated and his ashes buried in Ottawa in the spring. A celebration of his life will be held in both Montreal and Vancouver at a future date. His obituary appeared in The Montreal Gazette, The Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail and is reproduced below. On behalf of the Vanier Community, M. Bernier extended his deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.


DAGENAIS, Arnold Raymond
December 21, 1934 - January 8, 2016

Arnold died on Friday, January 8, 2016 at St. John Hospice (Providence Health Care) in Vancouver, B.C. of congestive heart failure. If a cat has nine lives, those who have been aware of Arnold's long-term cardiac and other health challenges know that Arnold was working on at least his thirtieth. Arnold attributed his astonishing longevity to love and care from family, friendship and support from friends and colleagues, and a marvelous array of physicians and health care professionals in Montreal, Mexico and Vancouver. Arnold is survived by his wife, Joan MacLean; three adult Dagenais children, Diane (Mike Ilsely), Eric, and Michael; four granddaughters, Sara Schroeter (Abinyah Walker), Nicole, Monique, Lauren; two step grandchildren, Dunya (Keenan Hood) and Tariq Ilsley and two great-grandchildren, Leila and Marcus; a step great-grandchild, Theo; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Brian and Debbie; nephews, Lorne, Barry, Duncan; nieces, Brilee and Lisa; cousins in southern Ontario; as well as his first wife, Lise. Arnold was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, and predeceased by his mother and father, Helen (Britton) and Raymond Dagenais; his sister and brother-in-law, Margaret and Mel Barker; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Margaret and Roderick MacLean. Arnold graduated from Concordia University (Sir George Williams) in Montreal. His careers began in the Canadian Air Force as a navigator in three squadrons. He retained a lifelong relationship with the 416 as a proud Punchbowler and pride in having flown CF 100s. When he left the air force, he worked at Marconi Canada in Montreal. Subsequently he entered the education sector, first as a secondary physics teacher and then as faculty and administrator in the CEGEP system in the province of Quebec. He was part of the founding faculty at Dawson College, Montreal and Vanier College, Saint Laurent. His passion for higher education made him a strong administrator and a great supporter of students and faculty. His two favourite positions over his more than forty years at Vanier were Dean of Continuing Education and his last, Dean of Science and General Studies. With his curiosity about the world around him, passion for languages, love of sailing, outgoing personality and sense of humour, and his determination to stay fit in the face of his many health challenges, Arnold was a lifelong learner, traveller and friend of many. Through their years in Montreal and Vancouver, many travels, home exchanges, language school adventures and wonderful six years living in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Arnold and Joan grew their circle of friends as an extended family. Sparkling and Jack, adopted Mexican street dogs, were their best friends. Just before he died, Arnold dictated to Joan a short note to be sent to family and friends:

"In my life I have found much joy, and part of that joy comes from you. I hope you can keep that joy in your heart. - Arnold"

Arnold's family would particularly like to thank Dr. Magdi Sami of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal; Dr. Andrew Ignaszewski, Dr. Charles Kerr and Dr. Peter Phillips, St. Paul's Hospital; Dr. John Kelsall, Vancouver; the staff of St. Paul's Hospital and St. John Hospice; Cindy Nordquist, nurse practitioner, St. Paul's Hospital. According to his wishes, Arnold has been cremated. There will be ceremonies celebrating his life in both Vancouver and Montreal, and he will be buried in Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa in the spring. Flowers gratefully declined. Memorial donations may be made to St. Paul's Hospital Foundation or the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. Arnold was forever grateful to the YMCA for members' support as he grew up. His YMCA mentors truly believed there "never was a kid whose potential they couldn't see." Arnold grew to realize his potential by bringing people together.

Obituary URL:

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This photo of Arnold was taken sometime in the 1970s, early in his career at Vanier.

Taken at a Mathematics Competition Awards Ceremony in 1998, two years before his retirement.

This is the photo which accompanied Arnold's obituary.

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