Remembering Paul Robertson

Jun 10, 2022
Remembering Paul Robertson

The OMA is saddened to share with our community the news of the recent passing of OMA Past President Paul Robertson.

We extend our sincere condolences to his husband Edgar, and to his family, friends, and colleagues.
Paul made contributions to the Ontario museum community for more than 30 years, working in museums and heritage since the 80s at the Official Residences of the National Capital Commission, the House of Commons, the Canadian Museum of History (Civilization), the Museum of Health Care at Kingston, and as Kingston’s first City Curator, a post he held for more than a decade.

As an active member of the OMA, Paul served the Ontario museum community on OMA Council and committees, including the Nominations Committee, Looking Ahead Task Force, Conference Committee, Modernizing Community Museum Funding Working Group, and in various Executive Positions including as OMA President from 2019-2021.

His professional contribution to our sector was substantial. Some of his earliest involvements with the OMA were May is Museum Month events in Eastern Ontario in the early 2000s, and he was an engaged representative for Museums at Queen’s Park Days, OMA Conferences, and Study Tours. In 2010, he was elected to serve on the OMA’s Nominations committee, eventually becoming an OMA Councillor in 2016 and Vice President in 2017.  Paul welcomed the OMA to Kingston on several occasions, including as Conference Chair in 2017. His leadership and forward thinking supported the OMA’s Looking Ahead Task Force, which helped our sector define its vision in Ontario’s Museums 2025.

My thoughts are with Paul’s family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time, as we mourn Paul’s passing. Paul and I served on the Looking Ahead Task Force and then continued onto the OMA Council together. His inclusive approach to leadership helped build consensus and camaraderie on our Council and he eagerly mentored and welcomed new members. The Ontario museum community has lost a passionate advocate, tireless leader, and a true friend.

-Cathy Molloy, President, Ontario Museum Association (Director, Markham Museum)

He led by example, building a culture of respect and inclusion and taking an active role in supporting emerging professionals, including through Conference Connections mentorship and the Inclusive Museum Leadership Symposium. He encouraged others to participate in OMA opportunities like Conference and the Diversity Census through making personal videos. In recent years as OMA President, he took on a greater role in the OMA’s advocacy, meeting with Ministers, governments, and funders to express the challenges and contributions of museums. He deftly and persistently represented the sector, including on the Modernizing Community Museum Funding Working Group of OMA Council, and on an advisory for the future of the R. Tait MacKenzie Memorial Museum in Almonte. His advocacy work continued up to a deposition to the Town of Gananoque in April of this year. During the pandemic, Paul continued to lead, offering words of encouragement to the OMA and to Ontario’s museums and meeting with Minister MacLeod at two OMA online conferences.

It was an honour to work closely with Paul in his many leadership roles with the OMA, including his recent term as OMA President.  The OMA benefitted greatly from his ability to bring people together—even through the unique circumstances of his term as President, Paul remained dedicated to fostering connections in our community. He was truly committed to the values and goals of the Association, and he brought a wide breadth of knowledge and experience to help strengthen the OMA. I will always appreciate his kindness, sense of humour, and inspiring joie de vivre.

-Marie Lalonde, OMA Executive Director

Whether he was recruited to offer introductory remarks, chairing meetings, or offering good advice, Paul always brought a sense of good humour and cheer along with his knowledge and wide-ranging expertise. We will remember his steadfastness, encouragement, and warm demeanour. It was an honour to work alongside him, and we will miss him dearly.

The OMA Council plans to further recognize Paul’s contributions at a future date.

If you have any memories, stories, or photos of Paul you’d like to share with the OMA, please send them by email to
Read the obituary of Paul Robertson and leave a message on the Tribute Wall HERE.

Funeral Service - will also be streamed online
Saturday, June 25, 2022 at 11:00am 
St. George's Anglican Cathedral
270 King St E
Kingston, ON
Images (clockwise from top left):
  1. OMA Museums at Queen’s Park Day in 2016 with MPP Steve Clark (left, then-Critic, Tourism, Culture and Sport; MPP Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, PC) and OMA ED Marie Lalonde.
  2. Paul provides words of encouragement to our sector, sporting his “COVID shave”, for May is Museum Month and International Museum Day 2020.
  3. Paul and Awards of Excellence Committee Chair Laurie Webb (left) present the Distinguished Career Award of Excellence to Marty Brent, Manager (Retired), Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives.
  4. Paul and The Honourable Lisa MacLeod (Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries; MPP Nepean, PC) speak at the online opening of the OMA Annual Conference 2021.
  5. Paul speaks at the OMA Annual Conference 2018
Images (clockwise from top left):
  1. At OMA Conference 2018 with (left to right) : Cheryl Blackman, current Interim General Manager Economic Development & Culture, City of Toronto; Mike Williams, former General Manager of Economic Development, Culture and Tourism Division, City of Toronto; Dr. Deborah L. Mack, PhD, Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships at the National African American Museum of History and Culture (NMAAHC); OMA ED Marie Lalonde, and former OMA President Petal Furness.
  2. Paul welcoming the OMA to Kingston as Conference Chair 2017
  3. Paul provides the closing remarks at the Inclusive Museum Leadership Symposium, held at the Ontario Science Centre in 2018.
  4. Members of the Looking Ahead Task Force, including (left to right): Yves Théoret (former OMA President), Lucy di Pietro, Bill Poole, Marie G. Lalonde, Michael Rikley-Lancaster (current OMA Secretary), Karen Bachmann (former OMA President), Cathy Molloy (current OMA President), Xerxes Mazda, Carolyn Bell Farrell, Micheline McKay and Paul Robertson.
  5. Paul leads voting at the 2019 Annual General Meeting
  6. Paul and fellow OMA Council member Michael Rikley-Lancaster (left) present the findings of the Modernizing Community Museum Funding Working Group at the OMA Annual Conference 2019 in Brantford.
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