Rolph V.G. de Gannes DVM, passed away at the age of 87, on September 30, 2022 peacefully at home in the presence of family who cared for him deeply. Beloved husband of 62 years to Sheila (Dales) and father of Derek and wife Clare Brown, Gregory (predeceased), Kimberley and husband Marc, Gillian and husband Paul, and Marianne and husband Jason. His adoring grandchildren Erica, Olivia, Ava, Emma and Evan will miss him dearly along with the all of his many cherished nieces and nephews.
Rolph was born at home in Sangre Grande, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, on February 22, 1935. The last child of Ferdinand (Fedo) and Elaine de Gannes. He is predeceased by his parents and older brother Ferdinand (Ferdi) de Gannes and is survived by his sister Bianca Banfield, brother Dermott de Gannes and wife Embla de Gannes, and in-laws Angela de Gannes, Frank Dales, Justina Slocombe, Moira O’Donoghue, Mary Dales and Anne Dales.
Growing up in Trinidad, Rolph attended St. Theresa’s Catholic School, Tranquility Boys School and St. Mary’s College in Port of Spain. He left St. Mary’s College in August of 1954 and worked in a bank as a post office clerk responsible for posting all letters and clearing the mail. During this time period he applied for and was awarded a Government of Trinidad and Tobago scholarship to study veterinary medicine. Before getting notification of the Scholarship, he had also applied to and was conditionally accepted at Cornell University, The Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Illinois, finally deciding on The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada where he registered in the Fall of 1955 to begin studies.
Rolph’s interest in veterinary medicine stemmed from his uncle who was a practicing veterinarian in the south of the island of Trinidad. His uncle specialized in horses, bred thoroughbreds, trained and raced them on the beaches of Trinidad as well as established race tracks. During his teen years, Rolph lived next door to his uncle and spent a lot of time soaking in all facets of the thoroughbred practice.
During his 4th year at OVC he and some of his classmates had the opportunity to travel to National Stud farm, what would later be known as Windfields Farm, in Oshawa, Ontario. This was his first exposure to Mr. E.P. Taylor’s stud farm and he fell in love hoping to get a job at a farm like that one, not knowing that fate would bring him back to that exact same place.
A sportsman throughout college, he participated as a member of the rugby and football teams at the University of Guelph, known as the Gryphons. He was also an avid cyclist and founding member of Madonna Wheelers cycling club in 1952, in Trinidad. Rolph continued cycling competitively well into his 70’s, and competed at Master’s competitions internationally. Rolph also took part in 5 consecutive Ride To Conquer Cancer annual events. His first one being 6 months following bi-lateral hip replacement.
Rolph met the love of his life during 4th year university at a Sunday evening dance put on by a University of Guelph club whose members were catholic students attending OVC, the Agricultural College and MacDonald Institute of Home Economics. The dances were also attended by nurses and teachers, who would be invited along with students from the three campus colleges. A lovely teacher named Sheila Dales caught his eye and they were together from then on, eventually marrying August 27, 1960. They lived in Guelph for the latter part of Rolph’s final year, and following graduation in 1961 they returned to Trinidad and Tobago where Rolph was posted to San Fernando as Vet Officer South Trinidad in a mainly mixed practice from 1961-1967 as repayment for the scholarship he received.
In 1967 Rolph resigned his government job and opened a private general practice and started training racehorses near Union Park race track, San Fernando. He had some early successes as a trainer including being named champion trainer at one of the Easter meetings at Union Park. While in Trinidad, Rolph and Sheila had four of their children with a fifth child being added upon their return to Canada in 1973.
His journey to Canada began when Dr. Owen Slocombe, his brother-in-law, a fellow Trinidadian and classmate, let him know that a position at Windfields Farm in Oshawa, Ontario, was open. He flew to Canada and interviewed with E.P. Taylor, the farm owner, and was hired as resident veterinarian. It was his dream job. He was fiercely proud of the work he did at Windfields. He ran a tight ship and was generous with his knowledge to those that worked with him on a daily
basis. As the resident vet, he found himself fortunate to be able to work with exceptional quality thoroughbred horses as well as exceptional horsemen and women.
He was transferred to Windfields Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland in 1986 and upon closure of the Maryland farm in 1988, he settled in Schomberg, Ontario. There he opened his own practice, de Gannes Equine Veterinary Services, along with his son Gregory. He continued to work with extraordinary horses and horse people across southern Ontario. In particular, he holds close to his heart the friendships he made while his son Gregory was training racehorses at Woodbine Racetrack and following Gregory’s tragic passing. He especially enjoyed coffee and donut breaks with Lauri Kenny at Schönberg Farm, Tim Drake at Silver Duck Stables, and Yvonne Schwabe and the entire crew at Persley Den Farm.
The family is grateful for the medical professionals and the personal support workers who caringly tended to Rolph at the end of his life. They especially thank all the extended family, friends and neighbours who have supported them in the days following.
Visitation for Dr. de Gannes will take place at Rod Abrams Funeral Home, 1666 Tottenham Road, Tottenham, on Friday, October 28 from 2-4pm and 6-8pm. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, October 29 at 11am at St. Mary’s R.C. Church, 190 MacTaggart Drive, Nobleton. Refreshments will be served in the church hall following the service. All are welcome to attend and share your stories of Rolph at the visitation and reception.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following organizations:
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance online or by mail to Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, 821 Corporate Drive, Lexington, KY 40503. A swell as Margaret Bahen Hospice online or by mail to Margaret Bahen Hospice, 653 Queen Street, Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 2J1.
***For those who wish to watch the Funeral Service online, please go to https://youtu.be/fgKpygQuWXs at the time of service for the livestream.***
Rod Abrams Funeral Home
1666 Tottenham Rd.
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm - 6:00pm- 8:00pm
St. Mary’s R.C Church
190 MacTaggart Drive, Nobleton
Robert Remlinger DVM says
I’m belatedly hearing about Rolph’s passing and I’m very saddened to hear of this news. I got to know Rolph when I was fresh out of vet school in 2000. Over the course of many years, he and I would cover each other’s practice when we had to get out-of-town for a bit. I truly looked up to him – heck, everyone in this business knew Rolph was a legend! Rolph, thanks for all your help, and congratulations on living a life very well-lived – that’s how it supposed to be done!
Rob Remlinger DVM
Michael and Nancy Secker says
Dear Sheila, Derek, Kim, Gillian and Marianne,
Our thoughts are with you at your time of loss. I will always remember Dr. Rolph de Gannes for his hard work and dedication as the lead veterinarian for many years at Windfield’s Farm in Oshawa, Ontario. While I was there, I learned a lot from him. Knowledge that I have to this day. Nancy and I also remember Sheila, your kindness and generosity to us and our young family and running with Derek. Fond memories of Rolph will be forever in our hearts.
Mike and Nancy Secker, Edmonton, Alberta
Marc de la Bastide says
Deepest condolences to Sheila and the rest of the de Gannes family on the passing of Rolph. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time.
Helen Giuliani says
Our deepest sympathies to the de Gannes family. Dr. De Gannes was a gentleman and a decent human being he will be missed
Angelo Ortepi says
My apologies for not being able to attend as an issue arose that was work related, which was out of my control and extended my day past my time being able to attend.
My and and along with my wife and children offer our sincerest condolences to all the family for your loss. He was a most kind a sincere man. My fondest memory of this wonderful man was his attendance at one of my soccer matches. His excitement and words of endearment will always forever remain with me.
God bless his soul and he will remain forever in our hearts.
Kenneth B. Andersson says
To all the DeGannes and extended family. My most sincere condolences, Rolph was one of a kind. One of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. Every interaction with him was a pleasant and informative one. Just a pleasure to have known him. His speech at my wedding back in 2009 still resonates in my mind day to day within my marriage. His “three C’s” compassion, communication and cooperation. Wise words indeed. I’m sure today’s gathering will be full of great stories and memories of him. Love from myself and the Anderssons. Rest peacefully uncle Rolph.
Denise Zoccolante says
Dear Marianne, Mrs De Gannes and all the family,
Such a beautiful soul. His life story is definitely full of kindness, compassion and many great accomplishments. Always hold him close, living on in your hearts & endless memories.
May the Good Lord give Mr De Gannes eternal peace & rest. May He also grant Mrs De Gannes, Marianne and the whole family strength & healing during this difficult time. By treasuring the fond memories and cherishing the time shared, may you all find comfort & support.
With heartfelt condolences and much love, we keep you all in our thoughts & prayers.
Until we meet again Mr De Gannes, we bid you a fond farewell.
❤ Denise, Dino, Remi, Max
Elizabeth Elder says
Dr . De Gannes will be missed by many. He was a classy, respected and incredibly knowledgeable veterinarian.
The racing world will miss him immensely as well as his family and friends.
Our deepest condolences to his family.
Elizabeth Elder and the Elder Family
Ivan Vanderburgh says
Please accept our heartfelt sympathy. We enjoyed so many wonderful horse functions over the years with Rolph and Sheila. It was always so much fun to sit together and visit and laugh for an evening. Rolph’s dedication to everything equine was an immeasurable gift to the industry, and he will be missed by so many.
With our condolences,
Ivan and Erie Ellen Vanderburgh
Tony Abraham says
I would like to extend on behalf of my uncle Stephen Abraham (dec) with whom
Dr. DeGannes had a professional / cordial relationship, condolences to his family.
Greta Pereira says
Dear Sheila and family
Rolph was such a lovely person … loved his positive attitude
Thinking of you all…
Marvo, Gerry, & Mark Wood-Salomon says
May Rolph’s memory be for a blessing. Our dearest condolences to Sheila, the children, and his entire family. May he rest in peace and rise in glory
Barbara Mitchell says
On behalf of the Mitchell family, I’m sending my heartfelt sympathy to the de Gannes family. My late husband Bob and myself met Sheila and Rolph our first days in Trinidad as neighbours in the south. Many nights of cards and butter tarts during our curfew time. Then back to Ontario, our Crystal Lake Cottage days as neighbours once again. Many years of having Rolph in our lives. Take good care Sheila and family. Sincerely, Barbara Mitchell.
stacie clark says
Dear. Degannes Family
so so sorry for your loss. An iconic man we that were all better for knowing….
he will be missed
Stacie and Mike Rogers
Catherine Shepherd (nee Kelly) says
It has been a privilege and honour to have been part of the De Gannes family. As an 18 year old from Western Australia, Rolph made me feel welcome. I enjoyed the time at Winfield Farms where on reflection I could see and feel the respect of the staff towards Rolph but as an 18 year old back then didn’t understand until later in life how respected Rolph was in his profession. While our friendship over the past 41 year has been long distance, Western Australia to Ontario our conversations always felt like we were next door. A true gentleman, how held to the line, enjoyed life, laughing and love for his family. Thank you Rolph for all you gave to not only me but also my parents. An important person my my world.
Peter and Janet Devenish says
With deepest sympath to Sheila and the de Gannes family.
We were saddened to hear of the passing of Rolph. We valued and enjoyed his friendship and positive outlook. Such a lovely person who adored his family. His passion as a veterinary surgeon was well known.
Hoping the wonderful memories you shared will comfort you.
Peter and Janet
Don and Lara Davidson says
Dear Mrs. de Gannes, Kim, Marc and the de Gannes family,
We are saddened for the loss of your husband, uncle, father and grandfather. He was a special man and will be deeply missed by his family, extended family, and the community.
Our deepest sympathy
The Raulston Family says
Dear Mrs. de Gannes, Kim and Marc, and the entire de Gannes family,
We send our deepest condolences. Our prayers are with you all during this time of sadness. May all the wonderful memories bring you peace and healing.
All our love,
Herb, Connie and Jackson Raulston
Petra Schwabe says
My condolences to the de Gannes family. Dr de Gannes was a very respected vet in the racing world. He will be missed by family, friends and horsemen.
Warren Armstrong says
My sincere condolences to Sheila and to Dr de Gannes’ family. I feel fortunate to have met and listened to him. Rest In Peace.
Gary Kemplen says
Our condolences to the de Gannes family. Rolph was a very respected vet and horseman. I’m sure he will be missed by many. Cindy and Gary Kemplen.
Helen & James McGrath says
Dear Sheila & Family,
Our thoughts & prayers are with you at this sad time. You are so blessed to have shared such a long & meaningful life together. Take care of yourselves in your grieving. We look forward to seeing you all on Oct 29th.
Peace & Love,
Helen & James McGrath
Laurie Gulas says
My condolences to friends and family…This is a huge loss for the veterinarian world, the racetracks and farms and all animals Doc de Gannes treated, and all of us who adored him and learned so much from him as well. RIP♥️
Joan Clark says
To Rolph’s Famiily I offer my sincerest
feelings of loss. He was a good man to be around and a great Veterinarian. He will be greatly missed by friends and
Horse people who knew his charming ways and great knowledge.
Judy Lococo says
My husband was also an Equine Practitioner who spoke of Dr. deGannes with respect and admiration. Because of his passing in 2015, I am sending along his deepest sympathies and condolences.
Mark & Tanya Huppe says
We offer our heartfelt condolences to the entire de Gannes family. May his memories live forever in your hearts. Requiescat in pace.
David Andrews says
Dear Sheila and family,
I am so sorry to hear about Rolph. He was a great friend for so many years and a dedicated Rotarian.
We had so many great times together.
We will miss him dearly.
Rotary Club of Oshawa-Parkwood
Cindy Bosy says
My deepest condolences to the family.
My mother, Betty Lane spoke very highly of Dr. de Gannes during their years working at Windfields Farm in Oshawa. It was very touching to my family that Dr. de Gannes reached out to express his condolences upon my mother’s death last year.
Clive and Joyce Cook says
Our Condolences to the de Gannes family on the passing of Rolph.
May he Rest In Peace.
Wayne and Erna Henry says
Please accept our deepest condolences to the entire family.
Fernan De Gannes says
Dear Aunty Sheila and my cousins, Derek, Kimberly, Gillian and Marianne,
Uncle Rolph was always special to me, a stern yet humorous man who I enjoyed having conversations with. I will always remember the times we spent with your family in San Fernando and later on, our summer holidays in Oshawa-in particular the weekends at the cottage and the soccer games.
I will certainly miss him and offer sincerest condolences to the family and surviving siblings, Bianca and Dermot.
Pat Holden (nee Fraser) says
To all the de Gannes family my sincere condolences. Although this loss is sad, you have many memories to warm your hearts. My love and prayers are with you.
Catherine Martin-Vella & Danny Vella says
Deepest condolences to the family. Ralph’s thoroughbred passion and legacy will be fondly remembered by many. RIP.
Pauline Block says
He may be gone but will never be forgotten.
A large star is born in the sky.
When you look up, smile because he’ll be looking down at you.
RIP, you were a perfect gentleman.
Yvonne Schwabe says
When Doc first came to our farm, I was not only blessed with the services of a legendary Veterinarian, I was blessed with the introduction to his beautiful family. I will be forever grateful for both. Sheila, Derek, Kimberley, Gillian and Marianne, sending love and my deepest condolences. To you TOP DOC, you will always hold a special place in my heart ❤️
Monica Dales-Sorensen says
My deepest sympathy in the lost of your husband, father, grandfather, brother and my special Uncle. It was a pleasure knowing Uncle Rolph and I have many cherished memories of this wonderful man. I remember as a young girl watching football with my Uncle and I believe that is where my passion of watching the game started! It was so much fun visiting Windfields Farm in Oshawa as a young girl and seeing what my Uncle did with those beautiful horses. We shared many visits and laughter over the years and I will miss him dearly.
Stephen de Gannes says
My memories of Uncle Rolph as a child was while staying on Winfields Farm in Oshawa with my Canadian family included a bit of fear of this big powerful uncle of mine with a voice that could silence any disturbance. As I grew older, I got to know him as the loving father, husband, father and friend he really was. A truly terrific person, with a loving laugh when you got him going. Miss you Rolphus Maximus. Fly with the angels!
Kathy O’Connor says
Dear Shiela, Marianne and family, my sincere condolences on your loss.
Jack had such love & respect for Dr. de Gannes.
He will be remembered by many in the racing world and especially by his family and friends.
Judy Maxwell says
On behalf of the Maxwell family especially my mom Joan Maxwell who attended all docs visits to the barn to assist in anyway she could to help when the horses needed docs help we are deeply sad that our beautiful Doc has passed away . He was loved by all king Haven Farms staff members ❤️. For ever in our Hearts
MIMI HAASE says
Dearest Sheila and family. I was very saddened to hear of Rolph’s passing. I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Although I only know you both for the last 10 years I have felt very privileged to be a very small part of your lives. Rolph was an exceptional man and always showed strength and grace no matter the situation. His love for you, Sheila, and the rest of his family was very apparent.
I hope and pray that the memories of his deep love for all of you will help you through this difficult time.
Ted Burnett says
Decades ago, we at Josham Farms were searching for a top reproductive Vet to service our farm. By reputation, Rolph de Gannes was the top man in the country – a Veterinarian superstar!!
Dr de Gannes was tied to Windfields at the time so we couldn’t land him. Years later all of our Mares and foals made their home at Yvonne Schwabe’s Persley Den Farm and we were finally blessed with his services. He remained a Superstar until his retirement.
The horse world (and the world in general), was a better place when he was in it.
Claudia & John Pierpoint says
Dear Shiela and family. John and I along with our family send you our deepest condolences. Rolph was an extraordinary man. His love for his family shined through and through. I am saddened that I and john are not able to attend ,but know you are all in our heart and prayers. May he rest in peace..
Leroy Trotman says
On the behalf of my family and myself our heart felt condolences to the entire family.