Geoffrey Taber, a longtime partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt in Toronto and leading Canadian technology lawyer, was killed along with his immediate family in a Dec. 24 fire at a remote cottage near Peterborough, Ontario.
Several news outlets up north, including the CBC and Globe and Mail of Toronto, noted Taber’s death following a Christmas Eve blaze that reportedly destroyed a 4,000-square-foot home that he owned near Stoney Lake in the Kawartha Lakes region of south-central Ontario.
On Tuesday, Osler posted a memoriam on its website to Taber and his family. Taber, born in 1960, was killed in the fire along with his wife, Jacqueline Gardner, their two teenage sons, Andrew and Scott, and two family dogs. (Gardner was also once a corporate lawyer at Olser, having gone on to serve as general counsel at an investment firm before leaving to raise her children fulltime.)
“Geoff Taber was a generous, vibrant and wonderful person, a legal visionary and beloved partner at Osler,” said a statement by Osler managing partner and chief executive Dale Ponder. “Geoff and Jacquie were first and foremost loving parents to their two remarkable sons.”
Volunteer firefighters responded to the fire about 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve, according to the Toronto Star, after receiving calls about an explosion. When they arrived at the cottage, which served as a vacation home for the Tabers, they found that the structure had completely collapsed into its basement. The Ontario Provincial Police said in a press release that efforts to investigate the scene have been hampered by bad weather.
Some of Taber’s neighbors in Toronto’s Riverdale neighborhood and friends remembered him as a kind man who enjoyed bike riding, a passion that saw him serve as leader of a cycling group called the Riverdale Riders. Taber, who spent 30 years at Osler, also founded the Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and worked with nonprofit The Next 36, part of Canada’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute. Ponder noted in his statement that his former partner was a go-to lawyer for many in Canada’s startup scene.
“Geoff was at the forefront of understanding the importance of the technology sector to Canada and was the founder of Osler’s emerging companies group,” Ponder said. “He advised many of Canada’s emerging and later stage companies as well as venture capital investors.”