Conrad Boyne: Uncle. History buff. Foodie. Traveller. Born Sept. 14, 1962, in Kingston, Jamaica; died March 29, 2021, in Toronto, of an aneurysm; aged 58.
Conrad Boyne grew up with four siblings in Elderslie, Jamaica, where he enjoyed climbing trees with his friends, and picking mangos, star apples and naseberry fruit.
By the age of 11, Conrad immigrated to Toronto to join his parents. They had arrived three years earlier to find work and give their children more opportunities in life. When he landed in August, 1974, Conrad was surprised at how hot the city was and, later, thrilled to experience snow during his first winter.
In high school, he developed a love of chess, history, philosophy, music and politics. Once, he even came home with a tuba to his parents’ shock. He also enjoyed track and field, especially hurdles. He loved technology and studied IT at college. He would work at Bell Canada for more than 34 years as an IT technician.
Conrad would remain a bachelor but he loved his family. With no children of his own, he took uncle duties to his three nieces seriously. One of his greatest legacies is what an amazing uncle he was: Chantel knew she could always call him, whether it was to help with math homework, to step in for the father-daughter dance or to teach her how to drive a stick shift. He also helped chaperone Chantel’s high-school trip to Greece. By the end of the trip, all the students were calling him Uncle Conrad.
Conrad loved to travel. He took cruises with family in the Mediterranean, exploring Spain, France, Tunisia and Italy; he loved planning excursions and going off the beaten track. Since he was a history buff, Conrad would often know more than the local guide, especially when it came to Greek mythology and African and Caribbean history. He enjoyed meeting the local people and eating local specialties – in Paris he ordered escargot and frog legs – but he never liked asking for directions, even if it meant getting lost.
Family dinners were often lively. If you didn’t agree with Conrad, he would debate you on any topic to bring you around to his way of thinking. At Christmastime, he would always cook a leg of lamb, since it was Chantel’s favourite, and would jokingly call the quiet that descended at the dinner table as “the silence of the lamb.”
During the summer months, Conrad and his nieces went to as many Blue Jays games as they could and sat as close to the field as possible. He loved the game and he had always given them baseball cards. In the mid-1990s he would often be mistaken for Blue Jays legend Joe Carter. Strangers would stop him in the street and ask him for his autograph. Once, while dining at Toronto’s Mr. Greenjeans restaurant, a waitress brought a milkshake to his table, saying, “It’s on the house, Mr. Carter!”
One of his last birthday outings was to watch another Toronto team: the Maple Leafs. His sister Cynthia and Chantel bought him a Leafs jersey to match their own; he wasn’t a big hockey fan but he good-naturedly wore the jersey and enjoyed their company at the game.
Conrad died suddenly at home. His parents, now in their 80s, his four siblings and his nieces are grieving but also remembering the good times and the impact he had on others. Conrad’s friends and co-workers have shared many good stories; he was a caring, funny mentor and worked hard.
Conrad was larger than life. He was always the fun and caring uncle, and he made sure that everyone he met knew they mattered. He still had so many places left on his bucket list.
Chantel Hutchinson is Conrad’s niece.
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