John Russell Powell

Powell  Russ content images

***The Celebration of Life gathering to be held on Saturday, May 30, 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. A new date will be announced when it is safe to do so. Dawn can be contacted at***

POWELL;  John Russell (Russ) ~ June 10, 1943 - October 23, 2019 ~ Russ always said that when it was his time to “check-out”, he wanted it to be quick and at his beloved Fleetwood Ridge Farm in Pontypool, Ontario.  We are heartbroken but grateful his wish came true.  On Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - a perfect fall day - he was found in his beautiful bush where he had gone to cut trees.  He died suddenly and unexpectedly in his 77th year of a massive heart attack with only Mother Nature and perhaps a Great Horned Owl witnessing the event.

Russ was born in Strathroy, Ontario and grew up with his three younger siblings in Watford.  He graduated from East Lambton Secondary School in 1961 (formerly the Watford District High School), the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto in 1965 and received a diploma in Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario in 1984.  In 2015 he retired as CAO of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority in Oshawa.

 For over 50 years, Russ was an influential and critical figure in natural resources. After graduating, he worked briefly in the forest industry in Hinton, Alberta but returned to Ontario and spent most of his career serving the people of Ontario through the Conservation Authorities program at both field and provincial levels.  May the impact of his leadership, dedication, insight, passion and mentoring continue.  He was a man of the land, ahead of his time, who steadfastly pursued his vision with a good dose of common sense and dry wit.

Russ was honoured to receive the Latornell Leadership Award in 2013 for outstanding contributions to the field of conservation.  In 2003, Russ and his wife, Dawn, donated a conservation easement from their land to Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust to preserve and protect the property in perpetuity. It has always been a labour of love they shared.

Russ was the beloved husband for 35 years of Dawn Sword.  Proud father of his children Shauna Powell (Mike Flaherty) and Colin Powell (Carol-Ann Titus) and stepchildren Stephanie Gaw (Kris Pazia) and Glenn Gaw (Sheena Logan).  Lovingly remembered by siblings Nancy McCulloch, David Powell (Linda) and Ken Powell (Jean) and his grandchildren Sam and Jack Flaherty; Rileigh, Morgan and Camryn Powell; and step-grandchildren Lucas and Lylah Gaw; along with many nieces and nephews. Also missed by his faithful hound, Ben.

Predeceased by his parents, Clarence Melvin Powell (1993) and Mary Genevieve Bowerman (1971), stepmother Nancy Lois Eby – nee Collins (2014), brother-in-law John Laird McCulloch (2000), nephew David Scott Powell (1972) and his dearest beagles, Snoopy, Swifty and Walter.

 We are so grateful for the medical care Russ received in Peterborough and Toronto over the past 5 years especially from Dr. David Van Loon of Millbrook and Dr. Brian MacKenzie of Peterborough. A special thank you to Brian Hancock and all those who helped out the day Russ died.

Service Information

A Celebration of Life will be held at Fleetwood Ridge Farm in the spring, 2020. Details to be announced. In memory of Russ, donations may be made to the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, or any Ontario Conservation Authority Foundation, or simply plant a tree. Arrangements entrusted to the Fallis & Shields Funeral Home, Millbrook where donations or condolences may be made at

***The Celebration of Life gathering to be held on Saturday, May 30, 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID 19. A new date will be announced when it is safe to do so. Dawn can be contacted at***


Deeply saddened by the news of Russ' passing. Such a brilliant insightful man and a professional always. It was an honor to have worked for him. The world needs more like him. He will be missed. Condolences to Dawn and all of the family.

Gayle Soo Chan

I will miss Russ's no-nonsense practical approach to conservation issues over the many years we were part of the Conservation "team" & more recently as a client of CLOCA. I am comforted to know he went as he wished.

Victor Rudik

Russ was an icon of conservation. He was a mentor, historian, statesman and had a unbelieveable wit which relieved many a tension over the past decades. RIP Russ

Deborah Gayle Wood

Dear Dawn and Family. I had the immense pleasure of working with Russ during his time at CLOCA, for almost 20 years. He was not only a great man, but a wonderful friend and mentor. Russ' quick wit and dry sense of humour was a gift. Everyone might think it, but Russ would say it!! He would take any opportunity to chat about life on the farm and his family, and when the time came, his grandchildren, who he loved dearly. His knowledge, love and passion for conservation has made a lasting impact. Russ was one of a kind, the world needs more people like him. I was devastated to learn of his passing, but comforted, knowing he left this life enveloped by his favorite place. He will be deeply missed. My life is richer for having had him in it.

Kathy Luttrell

Dear Dawn & family. Sorry to hear about your sudden loss of Russ. It was my great pleasure to work with Russ over the years, on various conservation authority related initiatives. I still remember his reaction to a proposal that would regulate the tapping of maple trees on the Oakridges Moraine - priceless! I will miss him.

Don Greer

Incredibly sad to hear of the news of the passing of your beloved father, Shauna. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time. May the many wonderful memories of your father provide some comfort. Lots of love, The Bunts

Jacqueline Bunt

Dawn, we share in your sadness and we share in the great memories of Russ. What a great mentor, leader and friend.

Tom and Bev Prout

My condolences to Russ's Family. I had the privilege of working for Russ during my time at CLOCA. Russ was a giant in the Conservation Movement and will be missed.

Jeff J. Andersen

I only work for Russ for a few years at CLOCA. The first day we met we asked where I lived. I told him “Norfolk County”. Not only was he very familiar with this great place he also rhymed off a list of acquaintances he knew from my home from 30+ years ago. Some of those people he kept in touch with until his passing. It has been ten years since I worked for CLOCA under Russ’s direction. His mentorship taught me many important lessons about the conservation of our natural resources but more about life, careers and the importance of maintaining good friendships along the way. Heather, Trevor, Stefanie and I send our deepest condolences to Dawn and the entire Powell family. I’m sure Russ picked up where he left off. Cutting wood under a cool autumn sky. Until we meet again my friend.

Jason Barnucz

Many hearts have been saddened with the passing of Russ. He was a giant of a man, not only in stature, but in his passion and leadership which has influenced many in the conservation movement. Russ had a way with words, never using too many, but just enough to get the point across. I consider myself very fortunate to be one of the many people Russ mentored during his career. Russ's teachings to his "conservation family" will remain an inspiration that will continue to guide us in our important work. Dawn and family, please accept my condolences at this very sad time. Heather Brooks

Heather Brooks

Condolences to the Powell family. Russ was truly one in a million. A respected leader, mentor and friend. His impact on those he worked closely with and the conservation community will live on.

Lisa Turnbull

My thoughts are prayers are with the family at this time of loss. Russ will be missed.

Valerie Towsley

Russ had a profound impact on me as a conservation professional, a manager, a leader and into my current role as a Chief Administrative Officer of a Municipality. I am very sad to hear of his passing and extend my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this fine man. Russ' legacy lives on in many, many ways. I often think of Russ and the wisdom that he bestowed on me and other conservation minded people (young and old) that he made a point of working with or mingling with at various events. I regularly consider the advice and wisdom that he passed on so freely and I often make difficult decisions guided by a thought process that includes these experiences or the conscious question of "what would Russ do in this situation." Family and friends can take comfort in the knowledge that he will not be forgotten. Jeff Brick

Jeff Brick

Dawn and family, my deepest sympathies to you at this very difficult time, I have such fond memories of our days in London and CA events.

Donna Robbins

Your life was full, your friendship I treasured. You and your insights will be missed. My thoughts are with Dawn and the family during this difficult time.

Mike Garrett

Always appreciated how Russ would guide me though the CLOCA meetings with is knowledge of conservation and his passion towards his staff . My condolences to his family . R.I.P Russ

Gerry Emm

Dawn and Family, we are so saddened by Russ' sudden passing. His legacy is the understanding and passion that he instilled in those of us who had the pleasure to work with him, of the many conservation issues and the practicalities of working through these matters in an understanding and common sense way. Not to mention the dry wit and occasional zinger that we all wished we had thought of! He will be missed. Kate and Les Tervit

Les Tervit

Dawn and family - so sorry to hear of Russ's passing. His life long contribution to conservation is a lasting tribute.

David MacDonald

Russ holds a special place in my heart for his awesome vision, political acuity and generosity of spirit. It is a rare gift to meet someone in your professional life who leads by example and nurtures others like Russ did. He knew what was important and how to achieve remarkable conservation goals. Thank you for a life well-lived; your mentoring and support when we worked on protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine and drinking water source protection. And you always made me laugh. Salut!

Beverley Thorpe

I am so saddened to hear of Russ's passing. I feel very blessed and honoured to have had the privilege to have the opportunity to hear stories and share laughter with this humble leader. He will be greatly missed by many. Sending prayers of strength and peace to his families.

Yvonne Storm

I was so, so saddened to hear of my Uncle Russ' passing, but at the same time grateful that it happened as he would have wanted - working in his beloved woods. I'll always cherish memories from when I was younger: walks in the "Enchanted Forest", learning to play horseshoes, and getting a birthday ride in the scoop of his tractor. My Uncle Russ was a great many things to a great many people, but for all of us he was good-hearted, helpful, and steadfast. He will be missed.

Graham Lindfield

I am so sorry for your loss Shauna, and Dawn and family. Although I only spent a few days with Russ over the years, he made a big impression on me. Despite being a bit gruff on the outside, he was a big teddy bear on the inside! Loved hearing his take on the market and stock tips over the years, and discussing business and finances with him. Also, appreciated a few special deliveries of "Russ Powell" firewood and pumpkins over the years. The firewood was magical and aged to perfection! He will be greatly missed. Love Paula

Paula Puddy

As a young Conservation Authority General Manager, Russ served a mentor and inspiration for me. I will always remember his story telling and his infectious laugh! My sympathies to Dawn and family.

David King

Dawn and family, you know from the heartfelt messages of condolence from Russ's many friends and colleagues, how much of an impact he had on so many. Your loss is shared by all of us and we feel privileged to have known, loved and worked with him over so many years. He will be missed but the wonderful memories will live on.

Don Pearson