John Daniel O’Leary

Oct. 10, 1951 – April 14, 2020

John Daniel O’Leary in earlier times..

John Daniel O’Leary – Obituary – Globe & Mail – click here

John Daniel O’Leary, a longtime resident of the Yonge and St Clair neighbourhood sadly passed away in a tragic accident this week. Living in the neighbourhood for over 40 years, he referred to himself to his family and friends as “Johnny 2 Blocks”, because for many years, his entire life – live, work, and play was within a 2 block radius of Yonge and St Clair. 

A kind soul who loved books, he could often be found at Deer Park Library, Lichtman’s in the old days, Book City, Fran’s back when it was on St Clair (in fact, when the restaurant closed in 2001, he lamented that he would have nowhere to eat – he ate almost every meal there!), Boccone, Jingles, and more recently Zelden’s Deli and Aroma Coffee. 

John was a generous man.  He never married –  as a close friend said, “John O’Leary was married to helping other people” , and his dedication to others was exceptional. 

He joined Frontier College in 1976 as a teacher in a prison literacy program, and in 1991 was appointed president of the College. He undertook a national initiative to organize literacy programs with volunteers at every college and university campus in Canada, created literacy coalitions outside the education field, with labour, business, non-profit, and non-government organizations. He was also co-founder of several nationwide advocacy groups for literacy, including the Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournaments, ABC Canada, the Regent Park Community Health Centre Newcomers homework club program, and the Business Task Force on Literacy. He was committee member of the inaugural Mr Christie Children’s Book Awards, was a member of a federal government task force on social policy and reform, the National Crime Prevention Council, and an advisory group on literacy for the Ontario Ministry of Education. He is the father of the present adult literacy movement in Canada, and a colleague said “without exaggeration, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are able to enjoy the many rich rewards of literacy thanks to his passion and leadership.”

Most recently working with the Anishnawbe Health Foundation, his relentless pursuit to enrich and make better the lives of others will be his legacy.  The family are requesting that donations go to: https:// johnoleary/.

Written by his niece – Katie Young

John & his niece Katie Young

Writings & Videos of John Daniel O’Leary (click for more)

Mr. John Daniel O’Leary was been a life-long advocate for the literacy movement throughout his 25 year career as an educator and as President of Frontier College. Since joining Frontier College as a teacher in a prison literacy program in 1976, Mr. O’Leary successfully established literacy coalitions outside the educational field, with labour, business, non-profit and non-government organizations. In 1991, he was appointed President of Frontier College. Under his direction, the College launched several innovative and wide-reaching programs, including a national initiative to organize literacy programs with volunteers from every university and college campus in Canada. Mr. O’Leary was also the co-founder of several national advocacy groups for literacy including the Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournaments, ABC Canada, and the Business Task Force on Literacy.

John Daniel O'Leary at children's Reading Event
John Daniel O'Leary Reading with a student at a Frontier College reading event.
Somali Homework Club with John 2002

John Daniel O’Leary – Rogue’s Gallery (click for access)

Tributes to John… (click for access)