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"BEG" 2007 Obituary


BEGBIE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-12-26 published
The humble legend
'He was one of the last of the giants, but his music and contributions will be eternal.' Jazz impresario Quincy Jones 'He was a regular on the French stage, where the public adored his luminous style.' French President Nicolas Sarkozy 'He was the kindest, gentlest, most forgiving person on the face of the earth.' Senator and jazz pianist Tommy Banks
By Peter CHENEY, Page A1
Mississauga -- The street is pleasant but ordinary, and so is the house, a two-storey monument to the forgettable architecture of the late 1960s. There's a two-car garage, a neatly kept lawn and a driveway flanked by a pair of coach lamps. But look closer, and you realize that this is a very special house indeed.
There is a windowless brick addition that looks like a military command centre, and on the front door, carved into the wood so subtly that you might miss it, is the face of one of the world's most famous and respected musicians - jazz legend Oscar PETERSON, once described as "the maharaja of the piano."
Mr. PETERSON, who died this weekend at 82, put Canada on the world musical map and helped forge a new era in race relations. Yet he spent much of his life in a world drawn straight from The Brady Bunch, a universe of suburban tract homes, strip malls and winding avenues with names like King Forrest Drive and Friar Tuck Boulevard.
Although his choice of neighbourhoods surprised many, Mr. PETERSON loved Mississauga. "He felt at home there," said his niece, Sylvia SWEENEY. "It was his world."
Mr. PETERSON's house was tweaked to his special needs. There was a soundproof brick studio that held his Bosendorfer grand piano and multitrack recording suite. The bay windows that faced the street were replaced with opaque glass blocks, to prevent the curious from spying. But this was not the home of a star.
"All he wanted was an ordinary life," Gene LEES, who authored a biography of Mr. PETERSON, said. "He wasn't a celebrity show-off."
To those who knew him best, Mr. PETERSON's address was the result of his love-hate relationship with Canada and its approach to visible minorities. The musician chose Mississauga in the early 1970s after being snubbed by a landlord in Toronto's wealthy Forest Hill neighbourhood who refused to rent to him because he was black.
In the suburbs, Mr. PETERSON found a new, more open society. Although it was largely white, Mississauga seemed more amenable to change, if only because it lacked the crushing social history of downtown Toronto, still a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant bastion at the time.
"I think it was a case of not being rejected," Ms. SWEENEY said. "In Mississauga, he got a chance to know his neighbours and build a history together."
Mr. PETERSON, the son of a railroad porter, was a musical icon by the time he reached his mid-20s. He learned to play the piano from his sister Daisy (who went on to become a world-renowned music instructor) and dazzled fans around the world with his impeccable technique and musical imagination. But in Canada, where blacks were still a tiny minority, Mr. PETERSON felt himself largely shut out by a white-dominated musical and cultural establishment that controlled access to key venues - particularly the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which Mr. PETERSON loathed until the end of his life.
Mr. PETERSON played a critical role in the battle for equal rights, using his professional stature and personal dignity to help erode long-standing barriers. Mr. LEES, a former Hamilton Spectator reporter who went on to become the editor of a music magazine and Mr. PETERSON's biographer, met him in 1951, when Mr. PETERSON was caught up in a racial dispute. Mr. LEES was assigned to cover the story when a Hamilton barber refused to cut Mr. PETERSON's hair because he was black.
Mr. LEES came away impressed by Mr. PETERSON's strength of character, and by his humanity. Although he pursued the complaint against the barber because he was offended by the man's prejudiced attitude, Mr. PETERSON later spoke on the barber's behalf when Hamilton city officials moved to revoke his business licence.
"He was never a nasty guy," Mr. LEES said. "And he believed that the point had been made. He was angry about what had happened, but he didn't want to destroy the man. He said: 'This is Canada. Here, the law is on my side.' "
His long Friendship with Mr. PETERSON and other black jazz greats gave Mr. LEES an inside view of the rejection they faced - even though they were wealthy and famous, many experienced racism in its cruellest, rawest form. He remembered how Mr. PETERSON was threatened by redneck Southern sheriffs, and how the manager of a Ritz-Carlton hotel in the 1960s tried to stop him from performing, saying, "That nigger isn't coming into this hotel."
Mr. PETERSON fought racism on several fronts. In the early 1970s, he lobbied to have more minorities on television shows and advertisements, in the belief that white-dominated media marginalized other cultures.
"He thought that kids got their view of the world from what they saw on television," Ms. SWEENEY said. "He was way ahead of his time."
Mr. PETERSON married four times. His first wife was black. The others were white. This surprised Mr. LEES, who believed that Mr. PETERSON had rejected mixed marriage - he had told his biographer that unions between blacks and whites demanded "incredible intellectual unselfishness."
When Mr. LEES asked Mr. PETERSON about his apparent about-face, the musician listened patiently, then explained that Mr. LEES had failed to understand him: "I didn't say I was against it," he said. "I just said it was hard."
To his neighbours in Mississauga, Mr. PETERSON was a compelling figure, an unpretentious, decent man who happened to be a world-renowned musical genius.
"He was very gracious," said Renneth BEGBIE, a retired school teacher who lived next to Mr. PETERSON for 22 years. "So is his family."
Mr. PETERSON wore his fame lightly, Ms. BEGBIE said. He and his wife sent her a Christmas card each year, and apologized for the mess when they landscaped their yard. In return, she treated Mr. PETERSON as he wished - like anybody else.
"That's just common sense," she said. "He was my neighbour. People need to be respected and appreciated for who they are. If Julia Roberts lived next door, I'd do the same thing."
Award highlights
Oscar PETERSON accumulated about 100 awards, prizes and honorary degrees, eight Grammys and two Junos.
1972: Officer, Order of Canada.
1978: Inducted, Juno Hall of Fame.
1984: Companion, Order of Canada.
1992: Governor-General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
1997: Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award.
1999: Praemium Imperiale Award, the Nobel equivalent for the arts.
2000: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization International Music Prize.

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BEGG o@ca.on.grey_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2007-10-01 published
BEGG, Eva Elizabeth (née MacPHERSON)
Of Tiverton, at South Bruce Grey Health Centre-Kincardine, on Sunday, September 30, 2007, in her 80th year. Beloved wife of the late Grant BEGG. Dear mother of Stuart (Norma) BEGG of R.R.#4 Walkerton and Beverley (Scott) RAMAGE of Tiverton. Cherished grandmother of Shawn and Cynthia BEGG and Maggie and James RAMAGE. Loved sister of Catherine (Harry) RUETZ of North Bruce, Jean (Norman) CAMPBELL of Port Elgin, Marguerite (Mervin) CATTO of Tiverton, and Bruce (Grace) MacPHERSON of Inverhuron. Predeceased by brothers, Stuart, Angus and Eoin MacPHERSON. Also survived by sisters-in-law, Grace MacPHERSON of R.R.#1 Tiverton, Marianne GREER/GRIER of Inverhuron and Helen MacPHERSON of Kincardine. Sadly missed by many nieces and nephews. Visitation at the Davey-Linklater Funeral Home, 757 Princes Street, Kincardine, Ontario, N2Z 1Z5, 519-396-2701, on Tuesday from 2: 00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The funeral service will be held at Knox Presbyterian Church-Tiverton on Wednesday, October 3, at 2: 00 p.m., with Rev. Wendy LAMPMAN officiating. Interment, Tiverton Cemetery. Memorial donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Knox Presbyterian Church - Tiverton, or the Kincardine Hospital would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy. Portrait and memorial online at

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BEGG o@ca.on.simcoe_county.nottawasaga.stayner.stayner_sun 2007-05-30 published
BEGG, Ivy Gertrude - Estate of
Notice To Creditors and Others
In the Estate of Ivy Gertrude BEGG
All persons having claims against or claiming an interest in the Estate of Ivy Gertrude BEGG, late of the Town of Wasaga Beach, County of Simcoe, who died on or about the 20th day of April, 2007, are hereby notified to send particulars of same to the undersigned on or before June 22, 2007 after which date the Estate will be distributed with regard only to the claims of which the undersigned shall then have notice and neither the Estate nor the undersigned will be liable to any person whose notice of claim has not been so given.
Dated At Wasaga Beach, May 16, 2007
Maurice A. LOTON, Solicitor for the Estate
802 Mosley Street, Wasaga Beach, Ontario L9Z 2H4
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BEGLEY o@ca.on.simcoe_county.nottawasaga.stayner.stayner_sun 2007-08-08 published
CRIPPS, Douglas Ann-Drew
Peacefully on Tuesday July 31, 2007 at his home with his family by his side at the age of 73. Doug of Stayner, beloved husband of Helen (née HANSON.) Loving father of Laura BEGLEY of Burlington, Leslie and her husband Gerry HOUTZAGER Jr. of Stayner and Ian and his wife Sharon of Stayner. Cherished grandfather of Johanna, Liam, Behra, Jenna, Kelsey, Elias, Macy and Hanson. Survived by his sisters Doreen MacCALLUM and Phillis LANGFORD. Pre-deceased by brothers Frank and James. A Private Family Service was held with interment at Stayner Union Cemetery. Remembrances to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated by Doug's family. Arrangements under the direction of Carruthers and Davidson Funeral Home, Stayner (705-428-2637) For further information or to sign the on-line guest book, log on to
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