H.W. Wallace Cremation & Burial Centre

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Michael Coleman

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Michael Coleman

March 23, 1943 - June 29, 2021


Michael was born in Vancouver on March 23, 1943 to parents the Reverend Michael and Mrs. Mary (King)  Coleman. He was the second of four siblings. The family moved to Victoria and then to Quamichan until, in 1950, his father was elected Bishop and they moved to Regina, Saskatchewan for ten years. During that time Michael attended Strathcona School locally and then went as a boarder to Upper Canada College in Toronto for four years. He often stayed with Uncle Charlie King in Ottawa on his school breaks where he was introduced  to Prime Ministers John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson. In 1960 the family moved to North Pender Island, where they had spent summers throughout the 50s. Mike attended UBC, earning his undergraduate degree and then his law degree. While at UBC he was also the University Student AMS President, and active with the Young Liberals on campus. In that time he met the love of his life Barbara who hailed from Hazelton, B.C. That geographical connection proved to be of importance as, through her, he made lifelong Hazelton friends.

Mike, Barb and their first son Charlie, moved to the City of Duncan in 1969, where Mike began his career as a lawyer. He practiced law in Duncan for the next 46 years, retiring December 2015. He was also honoured with the Queen’s Counsel designation in 2010 – Michael Coleman Q.C. Mike and Barb had their second son, Ted, in 1970 and their youngest son, Jamie, in 1978. While building a full-time law practice with various partners over the years, Mike got very involved in community service. He was first elected to City Council as an Alderman (City Councillor) in 1973. He was first elected Mayor in 1979 and served as the Mayor of Duncan for 22 years, with a short hiatus in the early 80’s, until 2004. He was named a Freeman of the City. “Mayor Mike” is Duncan’s longest-serving Mayor.

During these years, Mike played an integral role in the founding of many community service organizations including: Family Life, Big Brothers, Cowichan United Way, Hiiye’yu Lelum (House of Friendship), Community Futures, Legal Aid, the Cowichan Foundation, the Cowichan Valley Bar Association and the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation. During his time in civic government he helped develop VIU’s Cowichan Campus, revamped City Square, boosted relations with Cowichan Tribes, brought the 2008 North American Indigenous Games to Duncan and forged links with Duncan’s sister cities Meru, Kenya and Montmagny, Quebec. Mike was also on the boards of the BC Municipal Finance Committee and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, culminating as FCM President. Active in the Anglican Church, he was made a Lay Canon. For all of this, the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce honoured Mike in 2014 as the recipient of the Black Tie Lifetime Achievement Award. Mike was also active in Federal Liberal politics, introducing family members to Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Justin Trudeau.

In addition to being busy as a lawyer, mayor and community leader, Mike was always a family man. Despite all of his meetings and commitments, he and Barb made a point of having family dinner at the table almost every night, at 6:00 sharp. Mike instilled a love of literature in the boys, reading them poetry and novels most nights. He also published several books of his own poetry. The family watched hockey, the news and talked politics regularly. These often ended in heated debates. Mike and Barb chose to raise their family in the small town of Duncan, but they made a point of showing them the world. Family vacations every summer included places like England, Greece, Egypt, Tahiti, Mexico and Morocco, to name a few. Mike also made a point of going to almost all of the kids’ sports, especially soccer games. He did this for sons Charlie, Ted and Jamie. He also did this for his grandkids, Michael and Ryan (sons of Charlie and Deanie) and Grace and Blake (twins of Jamie and Pam).

Mike leaves us with a legacy of family commitment and community service. He is survived by his wife Barb and their boys, Charlie, Ted and Jamie (Pam), his grandchildren, Michael, Ryan, Grace and Blake, his sisters Rosemary (Bob) and Sally (Dick), his brother Chris (Judith), and countless cousins and friends.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Cowichan Foundation, or a charity of your choice.

Public Memorial will be held at Mellor Hall at 2:00 PM on Sunday August 29th, 2021. A livestream for those unable to attend will be available at https://www.distantlink.com/Wallace.html




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From: H.W. Wallace Cremation & Burial Centre

H.W. Wallace Cremation & Burial Centre staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Sharon Jackson
Relation: I was on council and became a friend later

Where can I possibly begin? When I first entered politics in 1996, Michael was the mayor, and he lead by example. He taught me patience, about public service, about not doing anything for personal gain but only for the gain of the community. He was gracious, always patient, I never witnessed him being angry, although there must have been times when he felt so.

He never did a thing that he believed was not for the benefit of the City of Duncan and the community at large..

Always intelligent and highly amusing, thoughtful and considerate. He was a consummate gentleman.

I feel honoured to have served with him. Of late, he had also become a dear friend, and I shall miss his whimsy for the rest of my life

From: Rochelle Zimberg
Relation: Through politics and FCM

To the Coleman family
I met mike through the FCM which I was part of since 81 -99. We became re-aquatinted through Facebook. I loved sending him grammar quizzes, quotes and puns! He was the greatest gentleman, one of brightest and kindest men I’ve known. He has friends right across Canada who will forever miss his wit, kindness and knowledge of all things!
My deepest condolences to the Coleman family! May his memory forever be a blessing to all of you!

From: Megan Pratt
Relation: My uncle

Our thoughts and love are with you all. Hugs from Meg, Mark and family

From: Jae Eadie
Relation: Federation of Canadian Municipalities National Board of Directors.

Barb and Family: I was truly sorry to learn of Mike’s passing. We became colleagues and then friends during our time together on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Board of Directors. Each of us served as FCM President during our time on the Board. Many years after we left public life, Mike and I were able to re-connect thru Facebook, and subsequently via occasional Zoom calls. He was always witty and fun, especially when commenting on the absolutely lovely winters here in Winnipeg!! Sincere condolences to all the Coleman clan in your time of loss and sorrow. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

From: Heather & Martin Cameron
Relation: Previous employee and friends

Dear Barb and family … I’m so sorry to hear of Mike’s passing. I have such fond memories of Mike, starting back in 1974 after my graduation, when he hired me to work at ‘Bird, Coleman, LaCroix, Nesbitt’. My first job, my first boss and the best boss ever! I learned a lot while working for Mike, which carried me throughout my career. In later years, when I’d see him riding in our local parades, he’d always wave and point to my kids in amazement of their growth. He would always ask how my family was and be happy to see us. Mike was one of a kind and I know he will be missed. I’m grateful for having known him.
Heather (Scott) Cameron

From: Madelaine MacLeod
Relation: founding member/Vice President of the Board of Directors of Cowichan Family Life, June 1970

On behalf of Cowichan Family Life, we extend our condolences to the Coleman family on the passing of Michael. As a founding member of our organization in June, 1970, we recognize and appreciate his contribution to the humble beginnings of CFLA. He supported many local non-profits for decades, and we admire the legacy of his role in community. Peace

From: The Municipal Finance Authority of BC
Relation: Michael was a long-term Trustee of our organization

The Trustees, Members, and Staff of the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia (MFA) send their condolences to Michael Coleman’s family, friends, and community.
Michael was a strong supporter of the MFA’s unique, collaborative model that leverages BC Local Governments’ collective strength and oversight. In addition to his many other public commitments, he served as a valued member of our Board of Trustees for 12 years from 1994 to 2005, helping our organization to provide the best financial services to all BC communities. His beaming smile, positive approach, and easy laughter will be sorely missed.

From: Beth Johnson
Relation: See above

I had the great fortune to know Mike throughout the years of our membership on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board. He and I served together as Chair and Vice-Chair of the BC Caucus there.

I grew to know him as one of the kindest, gentlest, most accepting people I have ever known. He had an ability to honour his own principles, and yet make others feel his respect for them, even if he vehemently disagreed. He refused to make a disagreement personal, and never attacked the other, only the argument being made. And he did that with grace.

Grace…I think that, in the end, this is the word I will always associate with Mike. He acted with graciousness, and exuded grace in his approach to life and to others. He lived his beliefs and principles. He also had a twinkle in his eye, and a devilish sense of humour!

I already miss him greatly.

From: Andre and Margaret St. Cyr

Our condolences to Charlie and family.
Andre, Margaret, Curtis and Sarah St. Cyr

Service Schedule

  Celebration of Life

Date & Time:
August 29, 2021
Beginning at 2:00pm

Mellor Hall
7380 Trans-Canada Highway
Duncan, BC Canada V9L 6B1

7380 Trans-Canada Highway
Duncan, BC Canada V9L 6B1

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The family has not designated a preferred charity at this time.

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