Not only was Peter Goddard for many years Canada’s pre-eminent music critic, he was also a dear friend who I admired tremendously.

Peter had been fighting cancer for the past year or so. True to his contrary nature, he refused to go when he was supposed to. But last night he slipped quietly away in Toronto with his wife Carol Ann and his daughter, Kate, by his side.

I called him a couple of weeks before he died. We talked about books we were both writing, we talked about days long gone by working together at the Toronto Star, and we promised to keep in touch.

When I got a call from Carol Ann that the end was near, I recorded a letter to let him know how I felt about him. I’m not sure if he heard me or not, but here is what I had to say…

Peter, it’s me, your old desk-mate, that guy who sat across from you for the better part of a decade, the guy you traded so many mystified headshakes and eyerolls with, the guy you kept more or less sane. The guy who is writing you a love letter today. I know what you’re thinking: Base? A love letter? Good god. But, hey, that’s what this is, so settle in for some loving.

I’m down here in Florida at the moment, so so sad I can’t be there to visit, but full of fond memories of our friendship, and years together at the Star. I was never certain whether we were in the trenches or a couple of weary travelers who had stumbled into an insane asylum. Maybe a bit of both.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you were my sometimes frazzled but always good-natured rock back in those days. Although I never said anything, I had been a huge admirer of yours since I was in high school reading you in the Toronto Telegram, a newspaper I adored. Getting to know you, becoming friends with one of my journalism heroes, what a delight!

While I am quite sure the powers-that-be at the Star would gladly have sent the rest of us packing, I do believe they regarded you as the one jewel in an otherwise tarnished crown. They tended to regard entertainment as something to fill the spaces between the Famous Players movie ads, but you were their knowledgeable rock ‘n roll and pop music guru, the one guy whose work could keep them abreast of what was happening in a musical world they had at least a passing interest in.

You don’t know it, but you also had more than a little to do with setting me on a path to which I’ve managed to cling ever since. I have something like a career today in no small thanks to you.

So take care my wonderful friend as I remember us together in Paris, magical, doing those CBC radio pilots with mad Gina, and the sheer pleasure of looking across my desk most days and seeing you there, the two of us coming through the storm together.

I will be so pleased and honored to continue this love letter when the time comes. Carol Ann reminds me that years ago she was with you at the rather raucous celebration of our friend Paul King’s life.

She tells me that we will celebrate you in a quieter manner. I’m not quite sure if that was a warning or not. But I promise to behave when the time comes. Well, more or less behave… Lots of love, kid…lots and lots of love…

There will be a celebration of Peter’s long and productive life. An announcement will be made soon.


Author of "The Sanibel Sunset Detective" and "The Strange." Ron spends part of the year on Sanibel Island, Florida, where he writes detective novels featuring private eye Tree Callister. When he is not in Florida, he resides outside Toronto, Ontario with his wife, Kathy.

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