Patrick Louis


Too much to say. He was the best brother ever. Thanks, Pat, for everything. Rest in peace.

Leslie Louis (1965)

Pat, a member of the class of '59, was a cheerful chap who rose above his troubles, conquered his fears and overcame his disabilities. He accomplished great feats of travel and mobility despite being hobbled by a disease that would have caused most of us to remain bedridden; whereas Pat modified his car so that he could drive, travelled alone and with crutches through parts of Australia, Africa and around the US and Canada.

I recall our last meeting where he and Ida insisted on driving me from North of Toronto all the way down to my hotel at the waterfront. This at 2:00 AM after a reunion with his classmates at Benny's home.

—Keith Fernandes (1958)

Husband, father, freelance photographer. Born Nov. 23, 1943, in Bombay, India. Died March 13 in Toronto of complications from POEMS syndrome, aged 65.

Grit, determination and perseverance best describe Pat Louis. Born in Bombay, India, he was the eldest of seven children of Percival and Mary Louis. Pat studied at Mount Abu in Rajasthan, where wild tigers grazed outside the walls of his missionary school. There he was mentored by an environmentalist who nurtured in him a love of animals and plants. This was reinforced by two years at a school in the foothills of the Himalayas.

In keeping with family tradition, Pat graduated with a commerce degree. But he found his first day at work in a bank too confining. He quit, bought a camera and began a self-taught career in photography. It was not unusual to find Pat with several cameras, tripods and extra film and lenses slogging through the jungles of India in pursuit of a rare bird species.

Pat followed a young student named Ida Mendonca to Toronto, where she immigrated to complete her physiotherapy studies. Pat and Ida were married in Toronto in 1974 and had three children, Rhain, Meira and Skye.

Pat embraced the challenges of life in his adopted country with typical enthusiasm. He was soon working as a freelance wildlife and fashion photographer. He continued his documentation of the unusual: He was invited by one of the last maharajahs of India to film the elaborate costumes and rituals of a royal wedding.

In late 1995, Pat suddenly began to feel lethargic. After months of tests he was finally diagnosed with POEMS syndrome, a rare multisystem disorder. He quickly lost sensation and strength in both feet, and started to lose function and feeling in his hands. Emergency treatment arrested the spread temporarily. The little available literature indicated Pat had about eight years to live.

Undaunted, he accepted the challenge. He taught himself to walk again, then to drive. He became an expert fisherman and drove to streams and lakes all over Ontario. He would put waders on over his leg brace and steady himself with a cane in one hand while casting a line out with the other.

Determined to continue contributing to his family, Pat attended weekly cooking classes and became a home chef extraordinaire. He welcomed digital photography and ventured on photo shoots to Brazil, Australia, China and India. Nine months before his death, he went to Tanzania on a safari. He continued to work on several manuscripts; a book on the Taj Mahal awaits publication.

The original eight-year estimate stretched to 14 years. Pat's contributions to Canada include a dossier of magnificent wildlife and scenery photographs, and a wealth of data for research into POEMS syndrome.

—Eric Saldanha in the Globe and Mail
Reproduced from