Tom Cunniffe

With great sadness and heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Thomas Jarlath Desmond Cunniffe at the age of 93, on Sunday, January 21, 2024.  Tom died peacefully with his family at his side at the Oceanside Hospice in Parksville, BC.

The fourth of nine children, he was born in Ireland to a farmer father and teacher mother who instilled in him the importance of education.  He was sent to boarding school and later studied history at University College Dublin, where he got his teaching certificate.

Emigrating to Canada in 1956, he taught history at high school, meeting and then marrying fellow teacher Vida in 1965.  After settling in Aylmer, ON to raise a family, he became principal, superintendent, and eventually director of education in Elgin County.

After his retirement, he entered local politics as town counsellor and reeve, sometimes to the chagrin of his fellow politicians: a straight shooter with a strong sense of right and wrong, one always knew where he stood.   He also enjoyed renovating his getaway cabin near Algonquin Park to accommodate his growing multi-generation family.  His escape and refuge, Hay Lake became the focal point for family gatherings as his children moved away to pursue their careers.

Tom and Vida moved to Parksville, BC in 2004, and built a life there focused on their church and community. He grew garlic in the backyard, and so productive was his patch that he mailed packets of homemade garlic powder to his children. These they would graciously but ruefully accept, knowing that his accompanying Christmas baking might just taste of garlic.

Tom is survived by his wife Vida, children Peter (Lori), John (Jill), Aidan (Geetu), Kathleen and Patrick, and grandchildren Saige, Liam, and Nicola, Maeve, Desmond, and Nora, Veda and Kieran, Thomas and Margot.  He is also survived by four remaining siblings in Ireland, brother Finian and sisters Nuala, Eileen and Eithne.  The funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 1:00 PM at the Church of the Ascension, Parksville BC.

Tom’s family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated staff at the Oceanside Hospice for the compassionate care he received during his final days, and to Drs. Susan Hunter, Chris Kwiatkowski and Mark Morris for their grace and expertise in the last few months.  If you wish to make a donation in Tom’s memory, please consider donating to the Aylmer Area Community Foundation (  Memories and condolences may be shared at