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Ontario Arts Council


Shoshana Wasser

Communications Coordinator (Government & Media Relations)
Toll-free in Ontario: 1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434

The Ontario Arts Council Remembers Hugh O’Neil

September 15, 2015

Hugh O'NeilOur sincere condolences to Hugh O’Neil’s family. We have lost a warm and generous board member and a fervent supporter of the arts in Quinte and Ontario. Mr. O’Neil passed away at his home in Trenton on September 14, 2015.

Belleville-Trenton-based Hugh O’Neil was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council’s Board of Directors in April 2010, and reappointed in April 2013 for three years. In addition to his 20-year political career, Mr. O’Neil’s professional background included work as an elementary school teacher and real estate broker.

The former MPP for Quinte held cabinet positions in the Peterson government of the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, Minister of Mines, Minister of Tourism and Recreation, and Minister of Culture and Communications.

He was honorary chair with several organizations including the Quinte Ballet School of Canada, the Loyalist College Foundation, the Lung Association and the Belleville Festival of Trees’ campaign in support of the Quinte Arts Council. Mr. O’Neil was also a former vice-chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Mr. O’Neil was an honorary patron of the Quinte Symphony Orchestra and was an honorary Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces. In July of 2013 Mr. O'Neil and John Williams, former Mayor of Quinte West, were awarded the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service for their dedication in creating the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial at Bain Park in Quinte West. Mr. O'Neil spearheaded the campaign in 2010 to create the memorial and was a key member of the memorial committee. This award is the Canadian military's highest level of recognition for a civilian.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Loyalist College awarded him an honorary diploma in Applied Arts and Technology in 1990. Mr. O’Neil was also the recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation awarded by the Governor General and of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal. 

Hugh O’Neil’s involvements also included his family’s business in commercial and residential properties.