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Peter Coulman (1956-2016)



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Image courtesy SOCAN.

I’m sorry to have to report that Peter Coulman, transit enthusiast, historian and frequent contributor to Transit Toronto, passed away on April 17 after a battle with cancer, three days shy of his sixtieth birthday.

I’ve known Peter for the better part of a decade, even though we never met in person. As I was working on the Transit Toronto site, particularly the bus route histories, I approached Peter to ask permission to use some of his work that had appeared on Alan Gryfe’s transit history website.

Not only did he grant me permission to reprint some of the information, he provided more information that he’d collected over time, including historical documents that had been purged from the Toronto Transit Commission in ages past. Over the next ten years, with the help of Jeffrey Kay and others, we did what I thought would have been impossible, and created a website documenting the history of every bus route to have been operated by the Toronto Transit Commission in its history (that we know of, anyway). Peter also helped in researching information on many other articles on this website, including the history of Toronto’s independent suburban bus networks.

Peter was passionate about transit history, even if he felt that the TTC lost some of its character when the tricolour rollsigns were phased out of its vehicles. He was always happy to talk on the subject, and we shared many great conversations by e-mail.

Transit history was not the only thing he was passionate about, either. He was a talented musician, composer and arranger, working for the CBC and the rest of the film and television industry from the early 1970s onward. His name can be found in the credits of numerous documentaries and television shows, and you may well have heard his work without realizing it. His work won him awards with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), including sharing the SOCAN Domestic Animated Television Series Music Award for his contributions to The Busytown Mysteries and the SOCAN Children’s Music Award for his contributions to The Doodlebops. In 1998, he also won a Gemini Award for Best Original Music Score for a Dramatic Series.

I will miss the man who shared my interest in transit history, who helped me discover more of its breadth and depth, and who helped put together something of which I am immensely proud. I am lucky to have known him. My condolences go out to his friends and family.