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Rick Donovan

DONOVAN, Richard - Obituary Photo.jpg


May 25, 1949 – June 30, 2022

Sadly, our family announces that Rick Donovan, tree hugger, passed away at St. Boniface Hospital at the age of 73 years.


He is survived by his wife of almost 25 years, Margaret; sons Jeremy Donovan and Scott Ball; stepchildren, Patricia Durand (Larry), Mark Thompson (Michelle), Gwenalyn Isaac (Neal); grandchildren Claire and Jocelyne Durand, Kove and Kora Thompson, Lyall, Wyatt and Coltyn Isaac; siblings, extended family, and friends.


Rick was born in St. John, New Brunswick, the oldest of four children. From the age of two he was raised in Montreal, where he completed his schooling. As a teenager and young man, he was involved in many sports and in Scouting. The latter was the introduction to his love of nature and wilderness camping.


Rick moved to Toronto and enrolled in a police training course before deciding to head further West. Although his destination was Alberta, he stopped in Winnipeg and stayed there for the rest of his life. In 1975 he joined the Winnipeg Police Service and had a colourful career on the streets of Winnipeg. Visit the Winnipeg Police History Museum for documentation of his experiences.


Working shift work allowed Rick time to pursue his interest in higher learning and he regularly took University courses. Over the years he accumulated enough courses to have degrees in History, English, Theatre and Anthropology. This was in addition to courses on Street Survival and Hostage Negotiations and other police related topics. Rick continued with his education after his resignation from the Police Service, partly to have access to the University Gym, where he could run and work out – always aware that being in shape was the best way to fight off the memories of horrific events.


Although he lived and worked in the city, Rick’s favourite place was to be on the highway riding his motorcycle or quietly paddling his canoe and portaging on a wilderness canoe trip. For several years he led groups at Owikonze boys’ camp. Later he planned long canoe trips for his family and friends – to Quetico in Ontario, Nopiming Park, Bloodvein River, and Black River, to name a few, as well as tamer trips along the Assiniboine River, the Seine or the Red River. His last trip was with his oldest son and two friends, to paddle along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Being in Nature and feeling the wind on his face was an escape that he treasured.


Rick loved his sons and did his best to encourage and support them. He allowed them to do dangerous and challenging things in a careful way and tried to teach them to take risks, get an education and be the best that they could be. He was a great encourager to his sons and a shameless bragger when telling others of their accomplishments.


Rick also had a soft spot for kids of all ages and of anyone needing some support. Our home was frequently a shelter for people needing a safe place to stay, for foster kids and for students.

Jeremy and Scott’s friends were always welcome.


Theatre, movies and the arts were of interest to Rick and he enjoyed writing plays and stories about his adventures. Summertime camping and canoe trips were a constant for many years.  He also enjoyed either motorcycle road trips or van trips to investigate native historical sites and buy more books.


His passion was for researching prehistory of North America. His dream was to write a book about pre-colonisation of the Americas, but there was always more research to do. His library fills several bookcases - not to mention drawers full of printed articles and pamphlets from every museum we visited around Canada and the US.


He suffered badly from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of work events,  and he found it difficult to be in crowds or to socialize very much. Sleep frequently eluded him, and consequently his health deteriorated.  In 2012, he suffered his first of several heart attacks, but continued to go to the gym until the day before his passing.


Thanks to the staff at St. Boniface Hospital A5 ward for their care and support for Rick in his final hours. I am forever grateful that I was able to be with him until the end


A memorial for Rick will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, October 22, 2022 at Niakwa Country Club,  620 Niakwa Rd, Winnipeg, MB R2J 2X3 Those who knew and loved Rick are welcome to join his family and we request an RSVP to Margaret at If friends desire, donations in Rick’s memory may be made to Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol Inc.

Rick’s family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.


In accordance with his wishes, cremation has taken place and no formal service will be held. An “at sea” send-off will take place later, on one of Rick’s favorite canoe routes.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

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