Humanist Heroes

Dr. H. "Henry" Morgentaler died at home on May 29, 2013 surrounded by his family at the age of 90.  Morgentaler, who was born in Poland and came to Canada after the Second World War, emerged in 1967 as an advocate for the right of women to have abortion on demand. Morgentaler's perserverance despite the heavy personal price he paid was strongly motivated by his humanist beliefs.  Dr. Morgentaler was a instrumental figure in the development of the humanist movement in Canada.  Henry served on the Board of the Humanist Association of Canada (Humanist Canada) during the 1990's and 2000's.

Dr. W. Wilson Dillon died peacefully at home on Sunday, January 29th, 2012 amongst his family. Wilson is survived by his wife, Kate, children, Simone, Desmond and grandchildren Laura and Lorenzo. Wilson grew up in N. Ireland and graduated from Queens University in Belfast. He arrived in Canada in the Fifties where he met his wife. They began to raise a family in Toronto when he decided to study medicine a UWO in London, Ontario. After specialising in Psychiatry the family moved to Vancouver where he established a successful practice.   When a small group of freethinkers got together in Vancouver, Wilson was one of the first to consider the formation of a Humanist Association. Following a somewhat informal arrangement for a couple of years, the group became registered as a non-profit society in 1984; Wilson signed the original articles of incorporation. The name was changed to the British Columbia Humanist Association about 1990. Wilson served on its executive board off and on over a period of ten years. He also gave some lecture-presentations on various topics of interest to humanists, including an illustrated one detailing a trip he and Kate had made to the Galapagos Islands.

Many people will remember his kind and caring treatment which stemmed from his belief in Humanism which was an important part of his life. One of his favourite sayings was by H.D. Thoreau, "If a man doesn't keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears." At this time the family is not prepared for a memorial service, but will consider one at a future date.



British-born journalist and atheist intellectual Christopher Hitchens, who made the United States his home and backed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, died on Thursday, 15 December 2011 at the age of 62.

Hitchens died in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of cancer of the esophagus, Vanity Fair magazine said.

“Christopher Hitchens – the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant – died today at the age of 62,” Vanity Fair said.


Robert Alexander Amiel "Rob" Buckman (August 22, 1948 – October 9, 2011) was a British-Canadian doctor of medicine, comedian and author, and past president of the Humanist Association of Canada. He first appeared in a Cambridge University Footlights Revue in 1969, and subsequently presented several television and radio programmes about medicine, as well as appearing on comedy programmes such as Just a Minute. He was also the author of many popular books on medicine.

Buckman emigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1985. In 1994 Buckman was named Canada’s Humanist of the Year. He was a signer of Humanist Manifesto 2000. He was Chair of the Advisory Board on Bioethics of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. His main popular work in humanism was Can We Be Good Without God? Biology, Behaviour and the Need to Believe.

In 2006 he began writing a weekly column in the Globe and Mail.

Rob died in his sleep while flying from London to Toronto on October 9, 2011. 


Bill Broderick was a Humanist Canada board member from 2005 until his death on Oct. 10th, 2011. 

Bill was a passionate Humanist who was a vocal member of the Humanist community in Canada.  He spent a lot of time writing numerous "letters to the Editor" in local newspapers to promote humanist ideals and reason.  Bill was also a champion of Secular Ontario and served as Humanist Canada Treasurer from 2010-2011.