Mission Statement

The Ontario Coroners Association is a members driven and directed organization committed to:

  • Investigating and identifying preventable deaths
  • Continuing education
  • Liaising with other organizations regarding the Coroner’s Act
  • Fostering good public relations and
  • Efficient management on behalf of its membership

History of the Ontario Coroners Association

The Ontario Coroners Association was issued a Charter under the Corporations Act on the sixth day of March, 1974, to the following Coroners:

  • Dr. John Pembleton MacKay, Parry Sound
  • Dr. Robert Douglas MacKinlay, Sarnia
  • Dr. William Carman Blackwell, Lindsay
  • Dr. Harold Edward Bulford, Hamilton
  • Dr. David Gemmell, Stratford
  • Dr. James Irving Leeson, Wiarton

for the following objectives:

  • To establish, maintain and conduct an Association of Coroners within the Province of Ontario;
  • To establish and advance high ethical and professional standards for the members of the Corporation;
  • To assist the members of the Corporation in advancing their knowledge, skill and proficiency;
  • To accept donations, gifts, legacies and bequests for use in promoting the objects and carrying on the work of the Corporation; and
  • To co-operate with other organizations having objects wholly or in part the same as or similar to the objects of the Corporation.

The first President was Dr. Jack MacKay, Parry Sound.

The first Secretary/Treasurer was Dr. Don Bunt.

The first directors of the Association were Drs. Blackwell, Bulford, Gemmell, Leeson and MacKinley.

Jack MacKay and Doug MacKinlay were appointed Regional Coroners when regionalization was introduced.

At the 1976 AGM, Dr. Richard Isaac was authorized to head a committee to create a logo and crest for the Association. The crest was reproduced on a tie which was very popular with Coroners.

Highlights of activities of the Ontario Coroners Association


  • Constitution published. (little blue book)
  • Dr. Doug MacKinlay president


  • Dr. Jack MacKay becomes president


  • Drafting of a charter for Ontario Coroners’ Association
  • Nominating Committee: Election of Directors & Executive


  • Charter in effect and CORPORATION formed
  • First Director’s Meeting
  • Adoption of BYLAWS Nos. 1 and 2
  • Resolution on Banking


  • Logo and crest developed
  • Dr. Robin Shearer becomes president


  • Development of committee for LOGO and CREST for the Ontario Coroners’ Association


  • Motion to hold annual meeting with Coroners’ Course
  • Recommendation for one member of Coroners’ Council to be a coroner
  • Motion to contact College of Family Physicians re: Credits for attending coroners’ course
  • Discussion of white paper on Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation Commission


  • “The Coroner’s Investigation” brochure produced by OCA
  • Dr. Robert MacMillan becomes president


  • Canadian College of Family Physicians approves 30 hours of study credits for Coroners attending Coroners’ course
  • Introduction of new crest, stationery and ties
  • Notice of Amendment to by-laws
  • Supplying business cards and stationery to all Coroners
  • Motion for a change in law pertaining to testing of blood alcohol for legal limit


  • Proposed By-Law change
  • Dr. John Lynch becomes president


  • Adoption of By-Laws
  • Dr. Kevin Flynn appointed Coroner representative to Coroner’s Council


  • H.B. Cotnam Award introduced in honour of retiring Chief Coroner Dr. Beatty Cotnam
  • Dr. Ross Bennett is appointed as Chief Coroner
  • Appointment of auditors
  • Preparation of plaques for all Past President
  • Dr. Kevin Flynn becomes president


  • Discussion re: Legal representation for Coroners
  • OMA discussions re: presenting fees
  • H.A.R.P. program introduction


  • Results of Time Survey and Ontario Medical Association
  • Subcommittee for new Coroners Form 3 revision
  • Investigation fee $78.75
  • Dr. Gord Powell becomes president


  • Descriptive procedures re: Complaints to Coroners’ Council
  • Coroner wearables produced (baseball cap, nylon shell windbreaker, golf shirt OCA crest


  • Formation of Finance Committee
  • Report of Coroners’ Council
  • Dr. Keith Johnson becomes president


  • Finance Committee Report
  • 90 day decision of Executive of OCA regarding submissions for projects
  • Liability Insurance re: malpractice and errors
  • Conclusions of Finance Committee
  • Paper on presentation and classification of Inquests


  • Criteria of Finance Committee re: Project Funding
  • Meeting of Board of Directors once a year with reimbursement for expenses
  • Computer system in place for Coroners
  • Dr. Ross Bennett retires, Dr. James Young appointed as Chief Coroner
  • Dr. Jim Cairns becomes president


  • CMPA/LIABILITY coverage
  • Duration of Board appointment is increased to 2 years
  • Project on Inquest Pamphlet
  • G.S.T


  • “The Inquest” Brochure produced by OCA
  • Accident Insurance discussion
  • Legal Representation for Coroners at inquests
  • Board of Directors/Executive involvement of review process of Coroners’ Act
  • Dr. Karen Acheson becomes president


  • Honourarium for OCA Negotiators
  • Secretary and 2nd Vice President duties combined
  • Committees -Archives, Finance, Legislative Affairs, Negotiations, Nominating, Stillbirths
  • Dr. Dan Garrett becomes president


  • Joint meeting of OCA and International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners June 15, in Toronto. Evening Cruise on Northern Spirit
  • Presidential stipend approved
  • OCA support for Photo Radar. Photo Radar introduced to commence Jan
  • Selection process for Inquest Coroners
  • Graduated licensing
  • Insurance form/certificates fee set at $35


  • Protocol for SIDS investigations
  • Activation of Honorary Member Status**
  • OCA supported introduction of Graduated Licensing
  • Ad Hoc gathering to discuss problems related to Pronouncement and Certification of Death in the Home
  • Omnibus Bill exclusion of Nursing Home Deaths


  • Distribution of Minutes of Annual Meeting to all coroners
  • Fee questionnaire distributed to members
  • Investigation fee raised to $145.00. Memorandum of Agreement signed for future negotiations
  • Omnibus Bill removed mandatory notification of all nursing home and homes for the aged
  • OCA position paper prepared re:Law Reform Commission Report on Coroners
  • Dr. Archie Grace becomes president


  • Increase in OCA Membership Fee to $50.00
  • First Annual Meeting outside Ontario ( Alexandria Bay, N.Y
  • Joint Educational Meeting held in Alexandria Bay, N.Y. with New York coroners
  • Death of Dr. John Lynch, Past President
  • Guidelines to Convenors for speaker expenses approved
  • Dr. Bill Buckton becomes president


  • Hospitality commenced: MacKinnon & Bowes: hosted by Mr. Allan Coles
  • Coroner wearables produced (baseball cap, nylon shell windbreaker, golf shirt OCA crest)
  • OCA purchased first version of Form 3 software


  • Form 3 software purchased by Chief Coroner from OCA for nominal sum. Board agrees to promote its use.
  • First International Conference for Coroners & Pathologists held in Costa Rica
  • Dr. Mike Mitchell-Gill becomes president


  • Second International Tour held in Ireland. Joint meetings with Dept. of Justice, Irish Coroners and Canadian Ambassador Irwin
  • Death of Dr. John Taylor, Secretary


  • Third International Tour held in Portugal, joint meeting with Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Coimbra
  • Fourth Int’l Conference & AGM held in Barbados Nov 25-Dec 3. Meetings with local pathologists, Chief Coroner, Attorney General
  • Death of Dr. Margaret (Maggie) Milton, Honorary Member
  • Dr. Elaine Spencer becomes president


  • Joint Meeting with International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners, Prince Hotel, Toronto
  • Fifth International Conference and Tour of Umbria & Tuscany
  • Membership fee increased to $75


  • “The Coroner – To Call or Not to Call” brochure for hospital staff published by the OCA
  • Sixth International Conference and Tour of Burgundy & Provence
  • Dr. Barry McLellan appointed Acting Chief Coroner while Dr. J. Young who is appointed Commissioner for Public Safety and Security
  • Investigation fee increased to $205
  • Nursing Homes and Homes for the Aged adopt threshold criteria
  • Dr. Kevin Flynn wins Beatty Cotnam Award
  • Dr. Bert Lauwers becomes president


  • OCA Executive drafts first strategic plan
  • establishes the following committees:
    • Membership Committee
    • Coroners’ and Legislative Affairs Committee
    • Negotiations Committee
    • Education Committee
    • Nominations Committee
    • Finance Committee
  • Annual Spring Educational Meeting in Toronto cancelled due to SARS
  • Seventh International Conference and Tour of Prague & Vienna & meeting with Faculty of Legal Medicine, Prague
  • OCA Executive commits to development of website
  • Fees for night-time premiums introduced April 1 at $65


  • OCA Executive confirms that coroners have liability insurance while conducting investigations, but not while conducting inquests
  • OCA executive launches website in April
  • Annual Spring Educational Meeting held at White Oaks, Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Death of Dr. Jack Saunders, Honorary Member
  • Eighth International Conference and Tour goes to Spain
  • Dr. Jim Gall becomes president


  • OCA presents Dr. James Young with the “Dr. Harold Beatty Cotnam Award”
  • OCA Chain of Office created for President
  • Dr. Rocco Gerace presents lecture on medication errors at the Spring Conference
  • OCA Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, October 28
  • 9th International Conference and Tour to Italy: Amalfi coast, Naples, Capri, and Pompeii


  • Dr. Henry Lee presents lecture on investigating cold cases, new technologies and crime scene investigation at the Spring Conference, April 8
  • OCA Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, October 27
  • Dr. Bert Lauwers, Past President, accepts position of Regional Coroner; steps down from OCA Executive after serving 10-year term
  • Dr. Robert Boyko takes on the role of representing Member Safety in the OCA Executive
  • Dr. Elaine Spencer, Past President, steps down from OCA Executive after serving 10-year term
  • Dr. Peter Cameron becomes President


  • OCA Spring Conference is held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, April 14, titled “Bones, Bugs and Blood on the Lake”
  • OCA Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, October 26
  • Dr. Bonita Porter becomes new Chief Coroner of the OCC
  • 10th International Conference and Tour: Copenhagen to St. Petersburg
  • 11th International Conference and Tour to China and Tibet: Beijing, The Great Wall, Xian


  • OCA Spring Conference held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, April 12, titled “Smoke on the Water, Fire in the Sky”
  • OCA Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, October 31
  • Dr. Jim Gall, Past President, steps down from OCA Executive after serving 10-year term
  • Dr. Don Thompson becomes President
  • 12th International Conference and Tour to Turkey: Ankara, Cappadocia, bodrum, Ephesus, Instanbul


  • OCA Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, October 30
  • 13th International Conference and Tour to Vietnam, Hanoi, Saigon, Cambodia, Ankhar Wat, Bangkok
  • 14th International Conference and Tour to Eastern Med and Black Sea Cruise Venice to Athens


  • Dr. Tim Feltis is special guest presenter at OCA Spring Conference titled, “CSI: Coroner Scene Investigation,” April 24; reporter Bob Mitchell of the Toronto Star presents guest lecture on the “Bathtub girls” from his book The Class Project: How to kill a mother
  • OCA Annual General Meeting held in Toronto, October 29
  • OCA presents Dr. Don Thompson, Past President, with a gift in recognition of his years of service for the association
  • Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion becomes President
  • 15th International Conference and Tour to Southern Africa #1: South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Victoria Falls, Namibia


  • OCA Spring Conference held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, April 30, titled, “Murder, Mayhem and Manner of Death”; Mr. Terry Grant, star of TV-show “Mantracker,” is special guest speaker
  • OCA recognizes MacKinnon & Bowes, along with the OCC, for repatriation of soldiers who have died; special commemorative dinner held with guest speaker Capt. Ray Wiss, emergency physician, reservist and author of the book FOB Doc, “Recognizing Sacrifice of Soldiers in Afghanistan,” November 18
  • OCA President Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion is invited by Dr. Michael Pollanen, the Chief of the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, to speak with him concerning his vision of death investigation in Ontario
  • Dr. Bonita Porter retires as Deputy Chief Coroner of Inquests and is presented with a gift from the OCA in recognition of her contribution to the Ontario Coroner system; Dr. James Cairns is recognized for his contributions as a coroner and presented with a gift accepted by Dr. Porter in his absence
  • Dr. Peter Cameron, Past President, steps down from OCA Executive after serving 10-year term
  • 16th International Conference and Tour to Africa #2 (excluding Namibia)
  • 17th International Conference and Tour to Budapest, the Danube and Paris


  • Dr. Dave Williams, Canadian astronaut and aquanaut, is special guest speaker at the OCA spring conference titled, “Death on Land, Air and Sea”
  • OCA represents the Coroners of the Province during the KPMG Systemic Review of Death Investigation Systems for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services; OCA produces white paper, “Opportunities for Ontario Death Investigation System”, February 27, 2012
  • OCA meets with the various Chiefs of Staff of the Minister over the course of the year, including meetings with Mr. Ian Davidson, Deputy Minister of Community Safety, Ms. Valerie Picher, Chief of Staff, Mr. Allan Gunn, the Ministry’s Chief Administrative Officer, and the Honourable Justice James on December 11, 2012
  • OCA presents the results of a member survey to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services that provide suggestions for improvement in efficiencies of the death investigation system
  • OCA Executive meets with MPPs to raise awareness about the role and responsibilities performed by Ontario coroners in the Death Investigation System (DIS)
  • Dr. Don Thompson, Past President, steps down from OCA Executive after serving 10-year term
  • Dr. Robert Boyko becomes President
  • 18th International Conference and Tour to New Zealand and Austrailia


  • OCA Executive is invited to meet with the President of the Ontario Association of Pathologists (OAP) to discuss areas of mutual interest
  • Dr. Andy McCallum steps down from the role of Chief Coroner of Ontario
  • Dr. Dan Cass takes leadership as Interim Chief Coroner of Ontario; followed by Dr. Dirk Huyer on July 22, 2013, who is appointed Interim Chief Coroner as Dr. Cass resumes his position of Deputy Chief Coroner of Investigations
  • OCA presents Dr. Andy McCallum with honourary plaque at a farewell reception in recognition of his support of the OCA during his term as Chief Coroner of Ontario between 2008-2013
  • Dr. Bert Lauwers steps down from the role of Deputy Chief Coroner (Investigations and Inquests)
  • OCA presents Dr. Bert Lauwers with the “Dr. Harold Beatty Cotnam Award” at the OCA spring conference in recognition of his contributions to Best Practices in Investigations and the development of the Osgoode Certificate in the Fundamentals of Inquest Proceedings for Coroners
  • Dr. Bill Lucas takes the position of Deputy Chief Coroner of Inquests
  • Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion, Past President, is appointed Regional Supervising Coroner (Eastern Region) and steps down from OCA Executive after serving 10-year term
  • OCA creates Position Statement on the Role of Forensic Pathologists in Homicides, April 2013
  • Dr. Susie Tector, coroner and physician with Doctors Without Borders, and Dr. Dominique Bourget, a forensic psychiatrist from Montreal, are two special guest speakers at the OCA Spring Conference titled, “Dynamics of Maternal and Child Death”
  • OCA hosts “Spirit of the 60s” pub night with musical guests “Even Steven” at the Annual General Meeting in November
  • Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced changes to strengthen Ontario’s Death Investigation System and OCA invited to participate on the working group to implement the policy of appointment of Forensic Pathologist-Coroners in homicides and criminally suspicious cases.
  • Dr. Andy Quinn represents OCA on tissue and organ donation committee with Canadian Blood Services
  • 19th International Conference and Tour to South America: Chile, Argentina, Brasil
  • Dr. Kevin Flynn awarded certificate of achievement from OCA for past years as Tour Director
  • Dr. Peter Cameron appointed Associate Tour Director, Full Director October 2014
  • ** To 2003 the following retired Coroners have been granted status as Honorary Members of the OCA:
    • Dr. Ross Bennett
    • Dr. Don Bunt
    • Dr. Kevin Flynn
    • Dr. Margaret (Maggie) Milton, died 2000

The Ontario Coroners Association Chain of Office

Chain of Office

The Chain-of-Office of the Ontario Coroners Association is a visual reminder of the history of the Association founded in March, 1974.

The Chain-of-Office was created in April, 2005. Each link represents a two-year period during which one coroner in the province lead the Association as President. Two crests of the province of Ontario are positioned in the north and south poles of the chain. Two gold maple leaves are positioned in the east and west poles of the chain. The background is created from black velvet. The crest of the Ontario Coroner’s Association, in gold, hangs from the chain with the coroner’s motto “We speak for the dead to protect the living” engraved on the obverse.

The crest is made of four parts, three maple leaves as symbolized on the crest of the province; a trillium-the provincial floral emblem; a caduceus-symbolizing medicine and the balance of justice. The crest is topped with a crown and a spray of maple leaves adorns the left side.

The Chain-of-Office was designed to be worn at all meetings and functions where the President is acting in his or her official capacity. Examples would include but are not limited to the Spring Education Meeting, the spring banquet hosted by the Association, the Annual General Meeting of the Association and the banquet hosted by the Association at the fall education meeting sponsored by the Office of the Chief Coroner.

The Chain-of-Office symbolizes the authority of the President to represent the association in matters pertaining to the Association. The names of the many distinguished Past Presidents provide support for the current president but also look over his or her shoulders to ensure the goals of identifying preventable deaths, continuing education, liaising with like minded groups, fostering good public relations and efficient management on behalf of its members are always at the forefront of the president’s actions.