Retired Ontario Superior Court Judge Romain William Michael Pitt, died in Toronto on April 29 last. He was 84.
Pitt who was born in Grenville, Grenada, was a founding director of the Caribbean Cultural Committee which for several decades organized Caribana, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
After finishing his secondary school education in Grenada, Pitt entered the University of Toronto in 1955 where he earned his Honours BA in economics in 1959.
He then attended law school at the University of Toronto and was called to the bar in Ontario in 1965.
Pitt articled and worked as a lawyer at the Bay Street law firm Blaney, Pasternak from 1965-67 and left to form with Eric Lindsay, the first partnership of Black lawyers in Canada, Lindsay and Pitt.
In 1994 Pitt was appointed to The Ontario Superior Court of Justice, a post he held until 2010.
Pitt served on the boards of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto General Hospital and the Church Council of Justice and Corrections and helped with the creation of the Black Business and Professional Association as well as the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario.
He also mentored high school students interested in pursuing careers in law.
Friends of the retired judge described him as a lifelong student of the law and economics and an advocate for racial justice.
St. Lucia-born Justice Gregory Regis, a former regional senior judge, described Pitt as “kind, thougntful and helpful.”
Regis recalled that when he was going to law school, Pitt was one of the Black lawyers ” who would call from time to time to see how I was doing and encouraged me to stay strong.”
“And of course when he became a judge , the Black community along with myself was very proud.
“He turned out to be a n excellent judge and he will be missed.”
Joe Halstead, chairman of the Festival Management Committee (FMC) which has been organizing the Toronto Caribbean carnival for more than ten years, paid tribute to the late judge for the role that he played as a ” founding father” of Caribana.
“He was one of the six or seven people who put leadership and his name on line.He stands as a legacy to the best in our community and the city,” said Halstead.
Retired Trindad-born educator Lennox Borel recalled that he was an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto when he first met Pitt who was then in law school.
“Among the West Indian students, Romain was our role model, an inspiration to all of us, a veritable icon,” said Borel.
” And we cherished his friendship, his sage advice, his jovial personality, his exemplary leadership, his indomitable spirit and his generosity.”
Lennox Farrell, a former chairman of the Caribbean Cultural Committee and a friend of Pitt, described him as ” honourable, thoughtful and decent.”
Farrell said he was “someone able to walk with royalty; yet someone retaining an uncommon touch.
” A legal expert, he was also equally well-engaged in communal affairs,”
He was the husband of Amabelle, father of Jennifer, Kevin and Tracy, grandfather of Alexandra and Michael and the brother of Martha (deceased), David (deceased), Morris (deceased), Cassimir (deceased), Roland (deceased), Betrand and Adrian.
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral service for the late Romain Pitt will remain private.
A “celebration of his life” will be held on a date to be fixed.