Ernest Ralph Pohlman

22-Sep-1934 - 08-Sep-2022

Obituary Overview

Ernest Ralph Pohlman

September 22, 1934 – September 8, 2022

Ralph Pohlman passed away on September 8 at Hastings Manor in Belleville, Ontario after a long battle with complications from diabetes. Although he had been paralyzed for the past 9 years (4 at home and 5 in long-term care), he remained lucid and witty to the end.

Ralph was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, only child of Nicholas Fredrick Pohlmann and Ruby Alice Dell. He grew up in Melville, Saskatchewan where his father ran a lumber yard, and his mother was a church organist, music teacher, and also played piano in a dance band.

Ralph graduated from Queen’s University medical school in 1958. During his first year at Queen’s he received the Alfie Pierce Trophy for winning two intercollegiate titles (boxing and tennis). He was an excellent student, but was also known for his outgoing personality, vivid story-telling and clever sense of humour. You could be assured that if any shenanigans went on at the university, Ralph was involved. Ralph always said, “I’m not a Queen’s man born, nor a Queen’s man bred, but when I die, I’ll be a Queen’s man dead!”

It was at Queen’s in 1953 that he met his future wife, Lois Lachance of Ottawa, whom he married in 1957. After graduation, they headed to Chicago, where he completed his internship and residency in pathology at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital and the University of Illinois. They returned to Canada in 1963. After a fellowship-year in Kingston, he took a staff pathologist position at St Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto. Subsequently, he opened several private pathology laboratories in the Greater Toronto area.

In the late 70’s he entered a psychiatry residency at the University of Toronto. He practiced psychiatry for the next 25 years, first at Sunnybrook Hospital and then as Chief of Psychiatry for the new Markham Stouffville Hospital. His professional interests included oncology, pathological gambling (Director of the Canadian Foundation of Compulsive Gambling), forensic psychiatry (Member of the Ontario Criminal Code Review Board) and adults with developmental challenges (L’Arche of Richmond Hill). His compassion, expertise and dedication made a truly meaningful contribution to so many of his patient’s lives.

 Ralph had many other non-medical interests, including drawing, painting, art appreciation, writing (including a weekly column for the Toronto Sun for 9 years), reading, music, theatre, beekeeping, athletics (tennis, squash, kayaking and canoeing), fishing, traveling and his pets – the most significant of which was Lucky, his childhood Collie who would meet him everyday when school let out, but never figured out that there was no school on weekends.

 The family’s Lac Bernard cottage in Quebec’s Gatineau Hills was a favorite place to spend summers and long weekends, full of memories of good friends, family, food and fun. After retirement, Ralph and Lois enjoyed winters in Homosassa, Florida where Ralph joined and painted with local art groups. He also volunteered as a tourist boat driver at the Homosassa State Wildlife Park.

 Ralph will be missed by his wife of 65 years, Lois, as well as his four children, Dell (Lauren), Anne (Jeff), Julie (John) and Lisa (David), and his nine grandchildren: Leah (Nolan), Adie (Danny), Neil (Michelle), Chris (Christianne), Nic (Emma), Avery (Rob), Paul (Kathleen), Mike (Sarah), and Karen.

Special thanks to the wonderful care provided by Hastings Manor, especially the staff on Elm Villa. Our deepest gratitude to Jacques Paré, Ralph’s caregiver, who over the past 9 years became a very close friend.

Visitation will be held at the Burke Funeral Home (613-968-6968), 150 Church Street, Belleville, Ontario on Tuesday, September 20th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral takes place on Wednesday, September 21st at noon in the funeral home chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Salvation Army, Hastings Manor or charity of your choice would be appreciated. Online condolences can be made at

Funeral Details

  • Visitation

    Burke Funeral Home

    Event Times:

    20-Sep-2022 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

  • Funeral Service

    Burke Funeral Home

    Event Times:

    21-Sep-2022 12:00 PM - 12:45 PM

More Details & Directions

Condolences from family and friends

Posted by Sheila & Dominic Pantalony | 26-Sep-2022

Our sincere sympathy to Lois and family. Ralph and I were Pathologists and shared an interest in this specialty, but then he changed specialties and went into Psychiatry. He practiced Psychiatry for several years at Sunnybrook Hospital then became chief of Psychiatry at the new Markham- Stouffville Hospital. He was a distinguished doctor helping many patients throughout the years. He had areas of specialization in helping compulsive gamblers and the Toronto Police Force with studies into criminal behaviour. But I have many personal stories about Ralph. In Humber Valley, as neighbours, we shared many good times with Ralph and Lois. He often invited us over to his home to enjoy his classic parties. Ralph would sometimes entertain us playing his AutoHarp. He was very simply a brilliant man, multi-talented, socially very outgoing, and a very loyal friend. I often wondered why he chose Pathology as his first specialty since it is perhaps one of the most introverted of medical specialties. But it never changed his personality and it appears that he was the 'same old Ralph' to the end. With Ralph's passing the world is now truly a lesser place. Sheila and Dom Pantalony

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Posted by Gail and Family in Vancouver | 25-Sep-2022

To Lois and Family, We watched the service on the Tsawassan condo computer in Keith’s former office, and were very touched by the thoughtfulness, wit, and shows of appreciation that turned what would have been a solemn service of loss to a celebration of this remarkable, one of a kind man. The singing and acoustic music, beautifully presented, with special lyrics, was engaging and sealed in the sense of Ralph’s having been a person who so respected creativity, and all efforts towards that. The personal remembrances, including wit, shared stories about a man who constantly sought, even demanded excellence and originality and who could be challenging because of it. Ralph was unique. Thank you for having shared this homage with us; it added richness to our day and allowed us to share this most important hour with the people closest to his heart.

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