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January 23, 2020
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In Memoriam: Roy Piovesana

Lakehead University is saddened to learn that Roy Piovesana passed away on the morning of January 20th after a massive heart attack. He was 77 years old. 

For over 50 years, Roy was a pillar of the Thunder Bay community, a consummate booster of Lakehead University, and a role model and inspiration for generations of students.

Born in 1942 in what was the east end of Fort William then, he distinguished himself at Fort William Collegiate before attending Lakehead University as one of its first students.

Very active in the student life during those nascent years of the University, he was the first recipient of an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and was elected by his peers as the President of the inaugural graduating class in 1965.

In many respects, he can be considered the first graduate of Lakehead University.

Choosing to remain at Lakehead, he next became one of the first students to enrol in graduate programming. In 1969 he graduated with a Master of Arts in History, the first for that program and one of the first (if not the first) MA graduate of our University. Upon graduating, he immediately became involved in the establishment of what is now the Alumni Association of Lakehead University, serving as its second president.

Throughout his life, Roy used his education to pursue a career as a teacher - first at Westgate Collegiate and then later Hammarskjold High School where he eventually held the position of head of history from 1984 until his retirement.

Roy inspired hundreds of students to not only pursue post-secondary education, but to do so in their home community through his consummate boostering of Lakehead University and extolling the quality of education provided.

As a historian, Roy distinguished himself regionally, nationally, and internationally. A recognized expert on Italian-Canadian history and religious history, he authored numerous books and both academic and popular articles on the subject. Roy was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Chair in Italian Studies committee, now the Institute of Italian Studies at Lakehead University. In 2000, he was appointed archivist/historian for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay.

Roy’s support for the University and its goals was all the more important as he held prominent positions throughout his life. Among them included President of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society during a crucial time in its history, leading the New Museum Committee that was central to the acquisition and renovations to its current home.

He also was one of the spearheads for the establishment of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and served as the president of its board from 1972 to 1982 (and on the board until recently). Roy also served as a trustee with the Canadian Museum of Nature between 1996 and 2007. Most recently, Roy served as President of the Institute of Italian Studies – Lakehead University.

Roy has been recognized by numerous organizations throughout his career. In 1999 he received a Citizen of Exceptional Achievement Award (Culture) from the City of Thunder Bay. In 2003 he was made an Honorary Life Member of The Thunder Bay Historical Society.

In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Department of History Alumni Honour Award, and in 2015 Lakehead University made him a Fellow in recognition of his substantial contributions to the growth and development of the university.

Roy’s contributions to Lakehead University were numerous, and his affinity for Lakehead University was manifested in his unwavering support and promotion since his graduation in 1965.

Those wishing to make a donation in Roy’s name might do so to the Roy Coran Memorial Scholarship at Lakehead University or any charity of choice. Funeral services will take place at St. Dominic’s Church on Friday, Jan. 24 at 11 am with a visitation beginning at 10 am.

Roy will be remembered in the Blake Funeral Chapel Memorial Grove annual dedication service on Sunday, June 13, 2021.

Visit this page for more about Roy’s life.

In honour of Roy, the Lakehead Thunder Bay flag will be lowered to half-mast on Friday, Jan. 24.

Music and Visual Arts building hot water has been shut off

The domestic hot water has had to be shut off for emergency repairs in the Music and Visual Arts building. There will be no hot water in the building for the balance of today and all of tomorrow.

We hope to repair the problem and turn the hot water back on before the end of the day tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 24).

Please direct questions to Hugh Briggs, Director, Physical Plant, at