Remembering Fredrik S. Eaton

Member of historic Eaton family was founding chair of UHN.

One of UHN’s most enduring champions passed away at age 82 on February 20, 2021. Fredrik S. (Fred) Eaton, O.C., O. Ont, was one of the driving forces behind the expansion of Toronto General Hospital and the formation of UHN. He, along with his brothers John, George and the late Thor, carried on the Eaton tradition of supporting Toronto General Hospital.

“We owe an enormous debt of thanks to Fred Eaton as the founding chair of UHN. He was a truly great Canadian, a charming gentleman who was passionate about UHN and about Canada. His legacy will endure for generations to come,” says UHN President and CEO Dr. Kevin Smith.

Following a tradition started in the early 20th century by his grandfather, Sir John Craig Eaton, Fred assumed many leadership roles throughout the history of UHN. As a trustee and member of Toronto General Hospital’s Finance Committee, Fred co-chaired TGH’s first major capital campaign to raise $12.5 million for a major expansion of the Toronto General campus. This resulted in the construction of the John David Eaton Building, named after Fred’s father. The building was officially opened in 1981 by Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret.

In the following years, Fred served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Toronto Hospital and helped secure the hospital’s largest donation at the time – a $5-million gift from Peter and Melanie Munk in 1993.

Fred was one of the architects of the creation of UHN and served as first chair of its board of trustees. When Ontario underwent a major health restructuring program for hospitals in the late 1990s, Fred saw the enormous potential in bringing three of Canada’s premier hospitals together: Toronto General and Toronto Western (The Toronto Hospital) and Princess Margaret. That partnership, University Health Network, now includes Toronto Rehab and The Michener Institute of Education at UHN, and is now Canada’s largest research hospital.

After he stepped down from the UHN Board of Trustees, Fred remained deeply involved in Foundation activities. He served as a member of the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation Board of Directors between 1994 and 2003. Along with his wife Nicky, he supported the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and the General Internal Medicine program. Fred also served as Honorary Chair of the Legacy for Life Society and as a member of The Senate.

“Right to the end Fred was always thinking of our hospitals,” says TGWHF CEO Tennys Hanson. “He was respectful and appreciative of the frontline hospital staff and he always expressed his gratitude to them for their work.”

Fred led a life rich in volunteerism and philanthropy. His service to Canada’s social fabric included his service as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and volunteer positions with Art Gallery of Ontario, Bata Shoe Museum and Royal Ontario Museum. He is survived by this wife Nicky, children Fredrik D’Arcy, and Flora Catherine and their families, as well as his brothers John Craig and George, who is currently a TGWHF Board Member.

L to R: Former UHN President and CEOs Drs. Alan Hudson and Bob Bell with Fred Eaton at the dedication of the Munk Building at Toronto General Hospital in 2013.
L to R: Former UHN President and CEOs Drs. Alan Hudson and Bob Bell with Fred Eaton at the dedication of the Munk Building at Toronto General Hospital in 2013.

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