We Remember

GALLACHER, Dr. Daniel Thomas, curator emeritus

July 29, 1939 — December 24, 2018

Dr. Daniel Thomas Gallacher passed away peacefully at Central Okanagan Hospice House, Kelowna, BC on December 24, 2018 at the age of 79 with his wife Joan at his side.

Dan is survived by his loving wife (Joan) of more than 56 years, his daughter, Heather Ross; his son, Ian (Margaret); his granddaughters, Kirsten Paquette (Jesse Wilson), Virginia (Daniel) Hu; grandson, Andrew and great grandchildren, Luke, Kara and Mercy Lou as well as his sister Patricia and brother Robert (Sandra).

Dan was born in Edmonton, AB July 29, 1939.  His family later moved to Vancouver, BC where Dan joined 135th Air Cadet Squadron.  He and Joan met and married while Dan was serving with RCAF Squadron 407 in Comox, BC.  Following an honourable discharge, Dan pursued his love of history;  first, obtaining a BA (Honors) from the University of Victoria followed by an MA and subsequently a Dr. of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at UBC in Canadian, American & British History.  Dr. Dan Gallacher became one of Canada’s foremost museum historians and curators.  His career spans over four decades working as a leader in research, acquisitions and exhibitions. He has written upwards of seventy publications, including The Canada Hall, a museum approach to epic history (2009) and directed and produced more than fifty exhibitions.  Among Dr. Gallachers’ major permanent installations are the widely acclaimed Modern History Galleries at the Royal British Columbia Museum where he served as chief curator, 1969-88, and the vast Canada Hall, Canadian Museum of Civilization, when he was Director of History, 1988-2002.  Dan served on the Canadian Museums Association executive and received the CMA’s Award of Merit (1984) as well as its Award of Distinguished Service (2007).  He was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Museums Association (2011).  Dan contributed widely to the knowledge of Canadian history in the areas of industrial and social histories of Canadian communities as well as museum theory and practice through speaking engagements and consultations as well as written works.

Dan’s love of Canada was a primary focus in his many travels. Joy derived from long walks and lecturing was cut short in later years; humour, bridge and family life became his mainstay.

Dan’s passing will be a great loss to family and those whose lives he touched.  A celebration of life will be held on Friday, January 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm at Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC.

Family are very grateful for the outstanding care and support given during Dan’s illness by the staff at Kelowna General Hospital, Central Okanagan Hospice House, Guisachan Family Medicine and others.

If you wish to send a condolence, post photos or share a memory, please scroll down the page to the area called “Share Your Condolences.”

In lieu of flowers, donations to: University of Victoria, PO Box 1700, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2 Attn: Heather Sims re Museum Studies Fund in memory of Dr Daniel Gallacher would be greatly appreciated.


Friday, January 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Springfield Funeral Home

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In lieu of flowers, donations to: University of Victoria, PO Box 1700, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2 Attn: Heather Sims re Museum Studies Fund in memory of Dr Daniel Gallacher would be greatly appreciated.


Service Information

Service Details

The service for GALLACHER, Dr. Daniel Thomas, curator emeritus is scheduled for Friday, January 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm . Below you will find the map for the service location and the contact information should you have any questions.

Address & Contact for Service Location:

Springfield Funeral Home

2020 Springfield Rd. Kelowna, BC


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  • Len and Betty Lou Koltun says:

    Joan, please accept our heartfelt condolences for Dan’s loss. We are so grateful to have shared quality time with Dan over the past few years and especially these past few weeks, and we will greatly miss his smile, wit, and jokes, which he shared to the end. We applaud Dan’s contributions to the preservation of Canadian history and the outstanding recognition he received for these achievements. Dan has also earned a special place in our hearts and a special place in Heaven.

  • Marion and Doug Futlon says:

    Our time with Dan was much too short. He’d “perk up” the room when he entered. Always cheery and bright. He will be missed.
    Our deepest sympathy to you Joan and to your family.

  • Donald Cameron MacDonald says:

    Dear Joan and Family
    Dan will be missed by his Bridge pals. His humour particularly. God Bless!

  • Bob and Nancy Turner says:

    Dear Joan, Our hearts are with you and your family. We have lost an inspired museologist and historian and a wonderful friend and mentor of over 45 years. We will always remember Dan.

  • Cameron Pulsifer says:

    I worked for Dan on the History Hall team at the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, from 1988 to,1991. I always found him an imaginative and stimulating presence as well as a supportive boss , I was truly sorry to hear about his passing and my deepest condolences go,out to,his family..
    Cameron Pulsifer, Ottawa

  • Sylvie Morel says:

    Dear Joan,
    I was so very sorry to hear about Dan’s passing. He was such a wonderful guy – we had many laughs, hard decisions, good times at the museum. His mark will always be in that building. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  • John Lomoro says:

    Condolences to the family from someone who worked with Dan at the Museum of History, Gatineau, Quebec.I remember Dan with nothing but positive memories.

  • Victor Rabinovitch says:

    It was my pleasure and honour to work with Dan from 2000 onwards at the Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History). I called him “Magic Dan” because he performed small miracles in creating meaningful, entertaining museum exhibitions. He was so good humoured and supportive of staff, especially younger ones. He thought about the visiting public, looking for ways to translate complicated information into accessible and effective museum shows. He had little time for pontificators. He always stressed social goodness, and how we should show to the public that Canada has become a better place by its decent, progressive outlook. I am truly fortunate to have known him, learned from him. May his memory be a blessing to his family and friends.
    Victor Rabinovitch (President emeritus).

  • Kathryn Elliott says:

    I enjoyed working with Dan while he was at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. As a transplanted West Coaster, we found much to talk about. One of my best stories about the Museum comes from some disussions with Dan about the management of problematic staff. He was truly committed to delivering the History Hall, and fun to work with.

  • Bill McBurney says:

    My condolences to you Joan and your family with Dan’s passing. Dan was a colleague of mine at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History for many years. He was a jolly guy with a great sense of humour and was held in high regard by all of us. I did meet you during those times and Dan and I even had the privilege of travelling to Vancouver and a Seattle/Tacoma to review an exhibition prior to it coming to the Capital. I’ll remember him fondly as will all his colleagues from his professional network.
    Blessings to you,
    Bill McBurney, Exhibit Designer

  • Nicky Bennett says:

    Kirsten, so sorry to hear of your loss. May your memories allow you to always smile. With love xx

  • Dorothy and Gordon and Bryan Wentworth says:

    Joan and Heather and your family we are so sorry for your loss. We enjoyed having you as neighbors and with our children at Communitas functions. We will be away so can’t attend service for Dan but you will be in our thoughts.

  • Tina Bates says:

    Dear Joan and family, I am so sorry for your loss. I worked as a curator under Dan at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from 1991 to 2002. This was a formative time in my career, and throughout Dan gave me encouragement, support and the freedom to develop. With great creativity and determination, Dan took on the History Hall, among other achievements at the museum. He was a larger-than-life, gregarious (sometimes garrulous but never boring) guy with a wicked sense of humour, greeting everyone in a booming voice in the museum hallways; I still can hear him say: “Still lovin’ it?” He was a lively, wonderful person and it is hard to believe that he is gone.

  • Francine Brousseau says:

    Sincere condolences to Joan and family. I have good memories of working with Dan at the Canadian Museum of History. He will be remembered for his contribution to Canadian history and I guess for his sense of humour!

  • Andrea Laforet says:

    I’ve known Dan since the mid-1970s, as a colleague in two museums, and in all that time he was focused, steadfast, and warm, with an unfailing sense of the people, past and present, involved in his work both as a historian and as an administrator. He worried about large things – the Canada Hall – and small – should he have that muffin with butter at coffee break – and he had a sense of humour that went to the heart of whatever set of events was unfolding at the time. He carried that sense of humour, concern for people, and incisive perspective on current events into retirement. He will be missed.

  • Diane Lalande says:

    Dear Joan and Family,

    My deepest sympathies goes out to you. Dan was my boss at the Canadian Museum of Civilization , now Canadian Museum of History. The greatest boss to work with and what a wonderful human being!

  • Dr. Lorne F. Hammond says:

    My condolences to all the Gallacher family on the loss of Dan. I was literally trained by the people he trained here the Royal BC Museum and consider myself fortunate for that experience. I work daily in galleries that he and his team conceived and built and considered myself as following standards of quality set by Dan. I met Dan on several occasions as he came in to talk and joke with Jim Wardrop and Bob Griffin about exhibit projects he had underway in Ottawa.. He made a great contribution to British Columbia and Canada’s understanding of our past. Our museum is what it is not just due to his work but to his mentoring others. Here is an old image from 1983 when he was the Western Canadian Chair of the American Association for State and Local History grinning after presenting Awards of Merit to his friends the late Dr David Lai, the distinguished historian of Canada’s oldest Chinatown, restoration architect John Chivers, and Curator Robert Turner.

  • Dr. Lorne Hammond says:

    My condolences to the entire Gallacher family on the loss of Dan. I was trained by the people Dan mentored and I think about him and them as I work in the galleries they built here at the Royal BC Museum. He set a high standard and he did it with humour and our reputation is the better for his thoughtful guidance. I met Dan several times when he came in to joke and discuss exhibit projects he had underway with Jim Wardrop and Bob Griffin. If I can contribute one observation it is about the pride he took in seeing the people he mentored succeed. In 1983 he was the Western Canadian Chair of the American Association for State and Local History. Here he is smiling after Awards of Merit were presented to three friends and colleagues: the late Dr. David Lai, the distinguished historian of Canada’s oldest Chinatown, restoration architect John Chivers, and a young curator Robert Turner. Dan was about people.

  • Brian C.M. Barrett says:

    Dear Joan & Family,
    I remember Dan as a very generous spirit. A person with a great sense of humour, great advice and humility. Even though we had limited contact over the year’s, he has left an indelible mark on those who knew him. May the support of family and friends and the many wonderful memoriesyou have sustain you. This is not goodbye but an adieu.

  • Pam Coulas says:

    Dan was a lovely person and I am pleased and proud to have known him. Sincerest sympathies to his friends and family.

  • Anna Jakobiec says:

    Dan’s professional devotion to Canadian History was remarkable. This was evident in his invaluable input into deweloping the Canada Hall at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) in Ottawa, a then newly built extraordinary facility to house the vast Canadian history collection. It was a privilege to benefit from Dan’s knowledge as to be part of the inspiring and tireless team working on the first edition of the History Hall exhibits to meet deadline of the opening of the CMC on July 29, 1989. There followed years of continuing work on Don’s selected exhibits, always with his professional passion, wit, kindness and smile until the time, sad to many, of his move back to B.C. in 2002.
    My deepest condolences to his wife Joan end the family.

    Anna Jakobiec (Conservator rtd)

  • Tom & Doreen Gallacher says:

    Condolences Joan and family. Words can not express our feeling, the loss of Dan reminds how fragile life is.
    From growing up as friends in Calder (Edmonton), to spending time in Ottawa, Palm Springs and Kelowna, we were fortunate to have spent as much time as we did with you Joan and Dan.

  • Jean Jacques Andre, Joan Andre and family. says:

    Remembering Dan with affection. We had a very good working relationship with Dan and were able to put the BCPM on the map with his BC History Gallery… 47 years ago this July 7th. Our deepest sympathy to all the Gallagher family in your sad loss.

  • Tom & Doreen Gallacher says:

    Joan and family, words will never express our feelings of grief with the loss of Dan, firstly a great friend and then a very close relative. From our early days playing in Calder (Edmonton) to visiting in Ottawa and then Kelowna we always enjoyed his knowledge and humour. Dan had an exceptional life.

  • Judy Tomlin says:

    Dear Joan, I am so sorry for your loss. I was there when Dan first took over the planning for the History Hall and it was like a fresh west coast wind swept through. In later years I enjoyed many, many wonderful conversations (and rants!) with him and I missed him so much when he left. I’ll never forget him.

  • George MacDonald says:

    Joan and family
    I watched the whole celebration for Dan streaming to my hospital room and was so happy that I was there with you to hear all the great tributes to a remarkable friend. Like many others I will miss his frequent emails full of humour and humanity.
    we looked forward to the semi-annual visits you and Dan made to Ottawa AND OUR RARER VISITS TO YOU AND DAN IN KELOWNA AND VANCOUVER. As I now write my memoires I am constantly reminded of Dan’s overview of Canadian history as expressed in the original Canada Hall at CMC.It lives on in Dan’s own writings and the thousands of images of it on the internet, none of which say Dan as much as his beloved “Wildcat Cafe” in Yellowknife.

  • Judy & Alan Holtby says:

    Dear Joan & Family, Alan & I are so so sorry to hear of Dan’s passing. We have fond memories of you both as our good neighbours at Gallagher’s.. He will be missed by so many that loved & cared. Take good care of yourself. Joan. We are doing well in our new surroundings in St. Thomas, Ontario although do miss our friends & families in the west. With Kind Thoughts..

  • Lillian Lee says:

    Dear Joan & family. – our condolences on the passing of your wonderful husband & father. We had had occasions to get together in past years and thoroughly enjoyed Dan’s knowledgeable comments on many topics. He contributed so much to our understanding of history and current affairs.

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