CORNWALL, Ontario – Nationally-known publisher, geography advocate, entrepreneur and mentor Gilles Gagnier passed away suddenly on Friday, Sept. 10 at the Cornwall Community Hospital. He was 51.
Gagnier was a true renaissance man who became involved in a variety of ventures and interest, but he is most known for his contributions to the field of geography. Gagnier served as Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society (RCGS) and was a publisher for Canadian Geographic.
“He has been more than just a colleague and organizational leader; he was a dear friend and an incredible mentor,” said Society CEO John Geiger, following Gilles’ passing. “He has been a crucial part of the success the RCGS has enjoyed over recent years and he devoted his working life to the Society and Canadian Geographic.”
At the time of his death, Gagnier has spent 21 years of his professional life working for the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and Canadian Geographic magazine as well as their online publications.
Gagnier was a driving force behind the Society’s Canadian Geographic’s Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada, and was a producer of the acclaimed documentary film Returning Home. He also served as President of 50 Sussex Drive Inc, and as a member of the Board of Magazines Canada. He was an Honorary Fellow of the RCGS and a recipient of the Society’s Erebus Medal.
In addition to his passion for his career in geography, Gagnier had a wide range of interests. He was a graduate of the Culinary Arts Program from George Brown University and was a part owner of the Cornwall business Bistro 226. He also played in the World Poker Tournament in Las Vegas twice; and was widely travelled to such places as the Arctic, China, and across Canada. Locally, he had recently been appointed to the Board of ACCFutures which is based in Cornwall.
Gagnier is survived by his wife Nancy Kelly, parents Ronald Gagnier and Elreen (née Lefebvre), sisters Claire Pecore (Rick) and Denise Gagnier Acker (partner Jerry Pinksen), in-laws Terry and Réjeanne Kelly, sister-in-law Joanne Lefebvre (Pat), as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins, and his nephews Preston, Cole and Sean. As well as his close friends Marc Besner (Tina), Mike Elston (Michelle), Brian McDonald (Andrea) and Dan Piché (Sue).
There will be a visitation at Wilson Funeral Home, 822 Pitt Street, Cornwall, on Thursday Sept. 16 7-9 PM. Masks and social distancing will be mandatory. A memorial mass will be held at St. Francis de Sales Parish, 434 Second Street West, Cornwall, on Friday Sept. 17 at 11 AM. Committal will follow at Notre Dame Cemetery. Donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be greatly appreciated by the family.