By Lincoln DePradine
Many adults in the Grenadian-Canadian community would fondly remember, as children, attending Christmas parties where the role of Santa Claus was often played by Adrian Pitt, brother of a former justice of the Ontario Superior Court, the late Romain Pitt.
Less than two months before this year’s Christmas Day, Pitt died. He was 90.
A service for Pitt was held last Saturday in Toronto, with the eulogy delivered by Grenada-born former Canadian MP and cabinet minister, Jean Augustine.
Pitt was a founder of the Grenada Association Toronto (GAT), which hosted the annual kids’ party and toy-giveaway each year at Christmas.
“We have been fortunate to have many wonderful memories of Adrian. As one of the founders of the organization, and our resident Santa Claus, he will be profoundly missed,’’ GAT said in a statement, expressing “sincere and heartfelt condolences’’ on the passing of Pitt.
Before leaving Grenada for Canada, Pitt was a certified chemist who worked with the government as a pharmacist and a steward for both the main General Hospital and the mental hospital in the capital, St George’s.
For a brief period in 1965, he was employed as a staff pharmacist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.
Many of Pitt family members have made outstanding contributions to their Diaspora communities, including Sheldon – one of his four children. Sheldon is highly regarded in the Hip Hop community in Canada as “Solitair’’, a producer, artiste, songwriter and studio engineer.
Among Adrian Pitt’s siblings were Cassimere Pitt who sang “Grenada May God Bless You”, a timeless patriot song dedicated to his birth country; Lord David Pitt, a British Labour Party politician, who was the longest serving Black parliamentarian in England; and Justice Romain Pitt, a founding director of Caribana, the Toronto Carnival that was inaugurated in 1967.
Justice Pitt, who died at age 84 in 2020, was appointed a judge in 1994. He served on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice until 2010.
The professional career of the late Adrian Pitt, an ardent credit unionist, included serving as a financial planner with Investor’s Group, until his retirement in 2002.
Pitt was “a gentleman’’, who has left a “shining record of service to the Grenadian community in Toronto, through his numerous contributions as a professional accountant, as an active member of his church, and through his generous service in his wider Diaspora community’’, said newly appointed Grenada consul general in Toronto, Gerry Hopkin.
“Mr. Pitt,’’ said Hopkin, “will be deeply missed and forever remembered by all of his family, friends, associates and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace as we celebrate his goodness and his legacy of yeoman service to our Diaspora community in Canada.’’
Pitt enjoyed a wide array of hobbies and extracurricular activities. They included cricket, soccer, snorkeling, swimming, cycling, ballroom dancing and guitar-playing.
Another of his hobbies – unique in itself – was volunteering his time to deliver treats and Caribbean newspapers to friends and acquaintances.
“He collected the Caribbean newspapers and delivered them to the doorsteps of some of his friends, especially those who did not go out very much, and always included a little treat in the bag with the paper. He did that for years till he could no longer drive,’’ recalled friend Jacinta Johnson. “I was one of the people whom he delivered newspapers to on Fridays and after I moved to Ottawa, he mailed them to me once a month.’’
Pitt, who attended Our Lady of Good Counsel Caribbean Catholic Church in Toronto, was also in the performing arts; a pastime he began as a young man in Grenada, including serving as president of the “Bee Wee” Ballet, a Grenadian drama and creative dance group.
In 1963, he received an award for his performance in the Shakespearean Festival in St Lucia.
From 1966 to 1974, he was involved in various Canadian drama groups such as the Caribbean Players and the Black Theatre of Canada, and also held membership in Black Arts of Canada.
Pitt, in 1975, played the village priest in a theatrical production of Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka’s “The Swamp Dwellers’’.
The Toronto Star, in reviewing the production, described Pitt’s performance as “first rate’’.
Pitt “certainly made a significant mark in the theatre world’’ in Canada, said Amah Harris, a veteran educator, theatre producer, director, playwright and actor.
Harris, extending sympathies to Pitt’s wife Joan and other surviving relatives, promised that she always will cherish “memories of Adrian in the area of the theatre arts. In the late 1960s, he was known as one of the lead performers in the Caribbean theatre group. In fact, Herb Whittaker, the Globe and Mail theatre critic, complimented the company’s work where he starred with Vera Cudjoe, saying that it was the best play that year, when compared with all the other professional theatre productions in the City of Toronto.’’
Harris added that, “in the early 1970s, when Vera Cudjoe founded Black Theatre Canada, one of the first professional Black theatres in Canada, Adrian played a lead role in its first major production.’’