In Memory of



Obituary for John Sproat

Sproat, William John -April 11, 1933 – March 13, 2022.  Passed away peacefully at home with family at his side at the age of 88. John Sproat is pre-deceased by his parents Roy and Katherine (née Hanna); his loving wife of 37 years Jean Elizabeth (née Coats); their daughter Katy who died at age 2; his sister Maggie and husband Gerry Moore; and more recently his adoring wife of 13 years, Helen (née Corns). Much loved father of Robert Sproat, Victoria and her husband Arthur Wolf, and Elizabeth (Betsy) and her husband Jeffrey Deane.  Cherished grandfather of Sarah (Ryan), Stephen (Robyn), Heather (Tyler), Christine, Robert Jr, Katharine, Hanna, Janet (Tom), and Grant. John will also be missed by extended family and friends.

Raised in Toronto, John attended Upper Canada College and Ryerson (radio and television arts), and enjoyed equestrian riding as a youth. He met the love of his life, Jean Coats, at Camp Kagawong on Balsam Lake where she was the camp nurse and he was maintenance staff. They married in May 1957 and moved to Ottawa to start a family while John worked at the CFRA radio station. In January 1966 the family moved to Etobicoke for John’s job opportunity at University of Toronto (Communications department). Five years later the family cut ties with the city and moved to Balsam Lake to live at what had previously been the family cottage, on the Killarney Bay property where Jean had spent summers as a child.

John spent most of the 1970’s organizing and running the parts department among various other jobs at Nahma Lodge Marina involving boats in the summer and Ski-Doos in the winter. Although John had obtained his private pilot license and began flying planes recreationally during the Ottawa and Toronto years, it was in 1977 that he had a renewed interest in flying and then went on to obtain his commercial pilot license. John and Jean ended up managing and operating the Lindsay flying school for several years, followed by John later owning and operating a successful fly-in fishing camp business (Kawartha Airways) in the mid 1980s. John and Jean took many flying trips together both locally and internationally.

Although John owned close to a dozen different airplanes over the years, he had a couple of favourites. A Cessna Wren hangered in Lindsay and a J3 Cub floatplane moored on his dock at Balsam Lake, both ready for take-off any time he wanted.

In the 1990s John became full-time caregiver for Jean who suffered from a progressive cognitive impairment and ultimately passed away far too young in March 1995.

At the start of the new millennium John discovered Birds of Paradise in Ajijic, Mexico and began wintering in this ‘happy place’, where he met and fell in love with Helen Corns and they married in 2005. Summers would be spent mainly at Balsam Lake where children and grandchildren visited and spent many happy times together enjoying all the water activities on offer. 

John was a man of few words, but was an excellent resource to many over the years as he could fix just about anything and find solutions to help others with indoor or outdoor projects. Friends and neighbours in both Canada and Mexico were most grateful for his troubleshooting assistance. John will be greatly missed by many who crossed paths with him over the years, but especially by his family. John had a life very well-lived.

A special thank-you to Dr. Brent MacMillan for all his support, encouragement and compassionate care provided to John and his family during the final stages of his battle with cancer. 

Cremation has taken place and a celebration of life will be held in the spring/summer of 2022 at Balsam Lake.  If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made to the charity of their choice. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family online at