With great sadness, we announce the passing of Paul on July 12, 2021. A family friend described Paul as the embodiment of the phrase, ‘Still waters run deep’. He had a reserved nature, but he cared deeply about his family and friends, and his work. Paul was the Chief Crown Attorney at the Toronto Courthouse for over 20 years. He spent his entire career in the Toronto Crown Office, starting fresh out of law school in 1975. He loved being a Crown, and was proud to serve his beloved city. A skilled and effective courtroom lawyer, he prosecuted more than 100 jury trials, including 38 murder cases, in one of the largest and most high-pressure prosecutor’s offices in Canada.
He was known as a progressive and accommodating boss by the more than 100 Assistant Crowns in the office, particularly by the female Crowns for his active encouragement of a healthy work/life balance for young families. He was well respected on both sides of the bench, as evidenced by the number of Defence Attorneys who spoke warmly of him at his retirement reception in 2008.
Over the course of his career, the cases that he prosecuted and oversaw helped to shape the social fabric of the city, from dropping charges against Dr Henry Morgentaler, to playing a role in incorporating Indigenous cultural practices and understandings of justice into the legal system through the Gladue Alternative Court. Among his successful jury trials were three that stayed with him: the murder trials for three young girls, Andrea Atkinson, Alison Parrott and Holly Jones.
In the latter part of his career, he enjoyed mentoring young Crowns, both in the Toronto office and after he retired, in Nunavut as a Circuit Court Prosecutor. While working in the North, he enjoyed learning about Inuit culture and working collaboratively with community Elders in the prosecution and sentencing process.
Paul was born in 1947 in Toronto to Winifred (Wears), a war bride who came over from England at the end of the Second World War, and William Culver, a Toronto Police Detective. William passed away when Paul was 16 years old, and Paul stepped in to fill the paternal role for his younger siblings, Barbara and Greg. Paul’s initial career aspiration was to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Toronto police force, but he was thwarted by his poor eyesight. He decided instead to pursue a career in law, and attended York University and Osgoode Law School. He met his wife, Susan, as a student at York. As Paul and his siblings started families of their own, they loved gathering their children (seven rambunctious girls altogether) for birthdays and holidays and to celebrate family milestones.
He was a loving husband to Susan for 49 years. They travelled the world together and enjoyed spending their well-earned retirement at their cottage near Meaford on Georgian Bay. They developed a close-knit group of friends on Sunnyside Beach, and shared many laughs over “mart hour” on the shores of the Bay. He was a proud father to Shannon and Lindsay, with whom he shared his love of Blue Jays baseball and ice cream, and to whom he passed on his strong principles and sense of public obligation. Despite the demands and stressors of his job, he was a devoted and caring father, coaching tee-ball teams and playing with the girls at the cottage. They are incredibly proud of him and the life that he led.
Paul was generally a quiet man, but he could tell a great story. When he began to recount one of the many colourful stories of his youth, people knew to gather round, because it was bound to be a good one. He was a humble and principled man, well-respected and loved, and the steady rock for his family. He will be greatly missed by Susan, Shannon, Lindsay (Collin), his sister Barbara (Keith), his brother Greg (Noreen, d.), his brother-in-law Dave Handy (Nancy), his sister-in-law Lynn Handy (Irena), and his nieces and nephew, Jessica, Laura, Alexandra, Michelle, Leah, Sam, Maddie and Molly.
A celebration of his life will be held later in the summer, when the family hopes the COVID-19 situation will have abated.
Donations can be made to the Cancer Research Society or Aboriginal Legal Services.