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Dennis, Michael

DENNIS, Michael

1956 - 2020

Michael Dennis

1956 - 2020

It is with profound sadness that we announce the peaceful death of Ottawa poet Michael Dennis on December 31, 2020 after a 9-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Michael’s loving and devoted wife Kirsty was with him throughout his illness and when he passed away.

Michael published his first poems in the early 1970s and used his work to communicate his insight, perception and at times, humour. He went on to publish more than 30 books and chapbooks. From 2013 to 2020, Michael wrote in-depth appreciations of over 800 books of poetry on his blog, Today’s Book of Poetry.

Born in 1956 in London, Ontario, Michael spent his childhood in Warsaw and Peterborough, Ontario. Michael is predeceased by his mother, Effie White (nee McMillan) and fathers Vern Dennis and Russell White, and brother-in-law James Griffin. Michael will be lovingly remembered by his wife Kirsty Jackson and siblings Sally (Hugh), Lori (James), Connie, Judy, Wendy (Dave), Joe (Amy), Jeff and Jennifer, and sisters-in-law, Birgit (Mark) and Ann Marie (Steven) and by his many nieces and nephews. He was a spectacular and devoted brother and an engaged and loving uncle.

Liked many artists, he worked to support his writing — driving cab, on the line in a car plant and in a northern Ontario copper mine. He installed art in museums and galleries across Canada, managed a boutique hotel, and opened a non-profit English language school in Czechoslovakia on the heels of the Velvet Revolution. 

Foremost, Michael will be remembered for his devotion to Kirsty, his deep friendships and his love of his family and community. He supported and encouraged all others, especially artists, and family and friends looked forward to seeing him.

A private family funeral will be held January 6, 2021 and the family plans to host a Celebration of Life for Michael in the future. 

Donations in Michael’s honour may be made to PAL Ottawa to provide affordable housing and a support system to arts workers 55+ or to the Ottawa Food Bank.

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26 messages received

Michael Dennis

Michael was a classmate and a basketball team at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School - 1970-1975.
My condolences to his wife Kirsty and the Dennis family.

RIP Michael Dennis !!!


Lorne Milsap

LORNE Clifford MILSAP, January 5, 2021


Offering my deepest condolences to Kirsty and to Michael’s family. I recently read an exchange where someone asked of another “What do you think happens when we die?” The response: “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.” Michael was a remarkable person, well loved and will be truly missed. It was my honour to have known him: impish, mischievous, observant, sensitive and caring. May he rest in light eternal and may his memory be a blessing.

Tara Hall, January 5, 2021


I was really shocked to see the news of Michael's death. I loved working with him at Food for Thought Books. He was fun to work with. I also felt he was very perceptive in his poetry. Finally, his parties were legendary. Michael will certainly be missed here in Ottawa.

Robert Craig , January 5, 2021

Sally, Hugh and Family

What a beautiful tribute to your brother Sally!
Thinking of you and your family at this sad time.
Kim and Brett Hughes

Kimberly Hughes, January 5, 2021

Kirsty and the Sisters.

Our hearts and prayers have been with you all during the past several very difficult months. No words can take away your grief, but to celebrate one's life is healthy
and important for all. Please remember to do so and laugh while sharing your many memories together. Sending much love.

Laurna and Mike Lanteigne, January 5, 2021

Kirsty and family

May you find comfort in the wonderful memories of a life full of love, from Michael’s wonderful writings and his legacy of kindness.
Our hearts are with you Kirsty and family.
Janet and Mark

Janet Sloggett Stewart, January 5, 2021

Kirsty and family

My heart goes out to you. I feel blessed to have be known by Michael.
I will miss him very much but the magical twinkle in his eye and our friendship are embedded in my heart.

Much love to you Kirsty.

brigitte Caron, January 5, 2021

Kirsty and family

Michael affected us all deeply and profoundly in unique ways. I know you’ll be comforted by the innumerable stories of lives and moments touched by Michael’s generosity of time and spirit.

On top of the books, music, lives, art, and poetry that Michael liked to share, the image of Michael in my mind’s eye always includes his suspenders, Panama hat, and little tin box.

Love to you all,

Steve, January 5, 2021


Unlike Micheal..... I have no words Kristy ...
I just saw on Facebook of this horrific news.
I first met Micheal and you in the first weeks of opening Ola and liked him form the moment I met him. I loved his stories and warm heart.
My thoughts and heart go out to you.

& Ola Cocina staff

Donna , January 5, 2021

Lori,Isaac, Connie, Sally

So very sorry

Colleen and Bobby Sharp, January 5, 2021

Kirsty,Lori,Connie,Sally,Judy and Families

I'm so very sorry for the loss of your Husband& young Rest In Peace Michael...:(

Gabe, January 5, 2021

Kirsty, Sally, Lori, Connie, Judy and rest of the family

My condolences on your loss of a sweet man of immense talent and generosity.

Karen Watson, January 5, 2021

Kirsty and family

Michael was so important to me as a young writer. He helped me understand that this path was possible. He will be greatly missed by many. Sending you all much love and light through this difficult loss.

Catherine Jenkins, January 6, 2021


I am so very sorry. Michael will be missed by so many. I have all his beautiful writing. For this I am grateful. Take care. My thoughts are with you. Best, Christian

Christian McPherson, January 6, 2021

Kirsty & family

My condolences Kirsty. So sad to hear this news. The choir keeps you in our thoughts.
From Simone, alto 1 uottawa Choir

Simone Gaudreault, January 6, 2021


The best darn (chosen sister) one could ever ask for! Your devotion and
Love for each other will help carry and lift us through the pain.
Thankuuu for choosing us!
I love you

Judy white, January 6, 2021

Lori White

Dearest Lori and Family,

My deepest sympathy for you and your beautiful family at this difficult time. May the memories of your brother bring you peace and happiness always. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May your brother rest in peace.


Sylvia Papp, January 6, 2021


So sad to hear about Michael. I didn't know that he had been ill. My thoughts and love are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Betsie Rajani, January 6, 2021

Kirsty Jackson

Dear Kirsty, We were so so when we read France's email about Michael's passing. We are so sorry for your loss and for all you and he must have been going through in a year that was already so difficult, even for those who were not ill. We had not even realized he was sick, being away from choir and not having the in-person contact and chances to talk. I hope that enough family members and friends were around to provide both of you with the help and support you needed through all the challenges and loss and --now--to support each other in your grief and to share warm and loving memories that may be of some comfort.
Sincere condolences and warm wishes for comfort,
Cindy and Sean

Cindy Shaffer and Sean McAlister, January 7, 2021

Kirsty and family

I will never forget Michael’s many kindnesses to Blair and me. May your memories of this wonderful man be a comfort to you.

Brenda Sharpe, January 8, 2021

Kirsty, Sally, Lori and Connie

I was saddened to hear of Michael's illness and his passing. From the time my brother Jim joined the family and I was introduced I immediately felt part of this large loving family. Mike was a great host at his parties, he was kind, caring and could be mischievous. Above all he was always there for his family, only a phone call away.

My heartfelt sympathy,

Jimmy's sister Karen

Karen Brown, January 8, 2021

Judi White

I am so sorry for your loss. I understand the void you must feel. I think of you often❤

Leeann Drury, January 8, 2021

Wife Kirsty and the Dennis family.

Michael was a classmate and we played basketball at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School - 1970-1975.
My condolences to his wife Kirsty and the Dennis family.

Earl Anderson, January 9, 2021


So very sorry to hear of the passing of a great friend

Ken Power Sr. & Annette, January 10, 2021


Hello Kirsty - this message is later than it should be, my apologies, but I wanted to send you my deepest sympathy on the loss of your husband. I don't think I ever met him but I read about him in the obituary, and what an interesting, multi-faceted person he seems to have been. We have all had much to cope with during this pandemic but the death of a spouse, on top of all the rest, just seems so much to have to bear. I send you my deep sympathy and hope you are bearing up well. Tim

Tim Plumptre, January 16, 2021

Kirsty Jackson

It has been a long time. My best memories of you and Michael come from our overnight train ride to Kiev and Michael's shoes, which were rank. He was the most amazing human I have met, I think. Going about 16 directions at once, but when reading his poetry standing stock still and bringing his audience along amazed at the depth of feeling.

Kirsty I tried hard to contact you on Facebook without luck. I valued our friendship and was sad that we drifted apart. Would love to reconnect sometime.

Barb Grisdale, January 21, 2021