Saturday, April 20, 2024
April 20, 2024


November 11, 1930 – November 27, 2019

Tom grew up in Minneapolis, a keen Eagle Scout, canoeist, and birder.  As a teenager, he hitchhiked across the mid-west to California on a birding trip.  After graduating with a BSc from Oregon State, he married his first wife Wynona. He spent ten years as a game biologist in Newfoundland, during which he pursued an MSc degree from University of Wisconsin.  He then moved west to UBC where he produced his PhD thesis on caribou population dynamics – his true passion, followed by an assistant professorship at UVic.

In 1969, Tom fell in love with Salt Spring, gradually settling at Isabella Point with his family, and retiring from teaching duties but retaining research grants and contracts to continue to study caribou mainly in Labrador, Ontario and BC.  Throughout his career he also studied moose, beaver, ptarmigan, blue grouse, and ruffed grouse.

Tom was predeceased by his daughter Wendy (Bill).  He leaves behind his wife Heather Butler, sister Mary and brother Lee, sons Daniel (Ellen), Michael (Watsana), Brett, Cody (Zoe), and Ryder; and grandchildren Corey, Sam, Daniel, Quinn, and Sarah.

A celebration of life will be held tba.


  1. Hi Dan, Mike and Brett.It’s been many years without contact and a long time since I’ve been to Salt Spring but I read the Driftwood still. I’m sorry for your loss of your father. You have spoke proudly of your dad and I see why. He was very accomplished. You can be very proud. Your old friend,Ted O’Sullivan

  2. Tom was a great story teller and researcher. I met Tom back in 2007 after inviting him to come and speak at Lakehead University. He gave a riveting talk, then spent the night with me and my family. It was a night I will never forget. He has had a profound impact on my career. I am very sorry for your loss.

    Terry Honsberger

  3. Heather and family, Gord and I are so sorry to hear of this loss. Tom has been a major figure in our lives – a rock in the sea of information 🙂 We often still chuckle as we tell the story of how Tom was driving along in Lake Superior Provincial Park on his way across the country and looked to his right along the big lake only to see the southern-most caribou standing on the shore! Only Tom could whisper the elusive caribou out for a viewing as he roared along the highway. Gord got a short and very succinct call telling him exactly where the animal had been standing and then Tom was off 🙂

    We will miss his wisdom and insight.

    Wishing you the very best always,

    Gord and Lynn Dee Eason
    Wawa, ON

  4. Tom was a good man very very intelligent. And an extremely hard worker. Me and his son Brett used to hang out a lot and ride bikes on Salt Spring island as well as Vancouver Island. I remember me and Brett would eat toasted peanut butter and honey sandwiches with ice cold milk. Those were the days. Hey Brett give me a call if you get this message Layne 760 219 4111 Peace Brother ✌


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