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Memories of Barry Fowlie

I was truly devastated to hear of Barry's untimely passing.

He and I were Vice-Presidents of the General Executive Board, and travelled extensively together.  We shared many a Guinness and many debates and discussions on many topics, perhaps solving the problems of the labour movement but always coming back to Barry's passion of helping the unorganized.

The campaigns we ran out in the West are a testament to his dedication, commitment and unwavering support.

He was the Canadian Director of Workers United, but he was my friend and brother.

May he rest in peace.

Vas Gunaratna

Barry Fowlie Obituary


Fowlie, Barry Alexander -

With heavy hearts we announce that Barry Alexander Fowlie died suddenly on November 13, 2021. Barry leaves behind his children Alicia Caitlin Fowlie, Olwen Fowlie, Sheumais (Nada Wadi) Hyland-Fowlie and their children, Yara, Yahya and Isaaq Hyland-Fowlie.

He is predeceased by his father, Alexander Charles (Sandy) Fowlie, infant brother James Fowlie and Alicia's late partner Christopher Brendan Thompson. He is survived by his mother, Mary Fowlie, sisters Mary Lyn Kidd, Alexis (Dan) Fortier, nephew Alex Van Roon, niece Shelley (Aaron) Simpson and their children Noah and Zack.

He was much loved by Vanessa Hyland, and the Hyland family of London – David (Sharon) and Phyllis (Rjay), niece Sarah (Vivek) Philip, nephews Ben (Katie) Hyland and Daniel (Colleen) Hyland and their families.

A lifelong Guelphite, Barry became a “milk man’s helper” at the age of 8, attended St. Stanislaus and Bishop Mac schools, and served as a Basilica of Our Lady altar boy. As a teen, his high school friends, self-proclaimed, “The Philosopher’s Club,” drew him into community service and an ongoing inquiry of progressive culture, especially labour and anti-colonial/imperialist history, politics, literature, and cultural heritage. He was a self-taught drummer and had a vast appreciation and knowledge of all genres of music. In his twenties, he was a co-founder of Strangeland Variety and Bookstore on Eramosa Rd. and the Alive Production Collective. He helped write, produce and distribute both Alive Magazine (a forum for anti-imperialist Canadian culture and history) and Guelph News Service Bulletin (which documented local working-class struggles).

Barry died in his home in the Ward where he produced Alive, welcomed and raised his children and had the friendship of wonderful neighbours for over 40 years. Barry, a proud member of Clan Ross, eloped in Scotland with Vanessa and taught his kids about their Celtic roots, in arts, language and traditions. He enjoyed cooking meals for the family and sharing an eclectic taste in music and media. Barry possessed a sharp mind, with the tongue to match and could light up a room with laughter. Holidays and festivities were of the utmost importance, and he would spend many hours decorating the family home.

Barry stood up for the marginalized and disenfranchised, and a protest song beat in his heart. Barry would go to great lengths to learn about a persons’ culture, to find things that connect us all.

Barry was elected as Director of Workers United Canada Council in 2011 and led the union until his death. He was especially committed to helping workers in hard-to-organize sectors join unions, seen in Workers United’s organizing efforts at GoodLife Fitness in Ontario and employees at fast food outlets in Winnipeg. A tribute to Barry’s dedication to keeping workers safe and his belief in workers’ power has been published by the OFL. Click Here to View Tribute A virtual memorial is being planned and more details will be available in the days to come on the Workers United Canada Council website.

Memorial Wreath

Workers United Canada Council staff hanging a memorial wreath on Barry's office door. 


The passing of Barry Fowlie is a sad day for the labour movement.  I worked alongside Barry for 15 years when he was both a member of COPE Local 343 at Workers United Canada Council and across from him as the Director of WUCC.  He always conducted himself with integrity and empathy for worker issues in whatever role he was in as a committed labour activist. I will miss him very much. It was a pleasure working beside him and with him.

- Mary Stalteri, COPE Staff Rep

Thank you!

We are still sorting out a memorial service for Barry, but we appreciate your memories and tributes as we grieve. As soon as we have details in place, we will be sure to update his Union family here. 

Barry Fowlie

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