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Stephen Lye

Apr 21st 1952 — Nov 6th 2023 (71 years)


Stephen Lye grew up and started his life as an adventurer on the Toronto Islands. Born into a family of sports enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and sailors, he became an avid and talented sailor himself, winning many races in and around Toronto, often with race partner Mark Millen, as a pre-teen and teenager. An early adopter of hacky sack and frisbee golf, he created a company to manufacture hacky sacks and his own imprint - Tour of the Planets - on a golf disc, now a sought-after collectors item. He (almost) never had a job for The Man, preferring to do things his own way, starting many different businesses over his life. If he did work for others, it was doing carpentry or sales. His initials spell SEL, and he understood that as a sure sign that he was meant to do sales. His ability to talk to anyone (at length!) definitely helped him in this regard.

Stephen spent many years living on the West coast, mostly in British Columbia but also in California. He had many stories from this time, including adventures of hitchhiking, and meeting people, including Mary Wilson of The Supremes. He realized a hippie dream of living communally in the Holy Order of MANS near San Francisco, in a new age spiritual order, making tofu among other things. He also lived on the Gulf Islands of B.C., where his daughter, Daya, was born at home, a rarity at that time. There was a legend that he windsurfed all the way from Salt Spring Island to South Pender Island, however this report could not be independently verified.

Stephen also found communal living in Toronto, with members of the Toronto Institute of Self Healing, members of which he stayed connected to until the end of his life. He was married three times, and loved children, having a playful nature, big heart and imagination. He maintained a childlike wonder at the amazingness of the universe, and was fully acquainted with many of its mysteries. He remained married to his beloved, Andrea, until the end of his life.

Stephen’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to have many businesses and storefronts over the years, notably Urban Archeology which manufactured plaster and cement castings, and employed dozens of people over the ten plus years of its existence, having stores on Queen West, Queen East, and King West in Toronto, as well as in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St Catharines. In more recent times he opened Odds on Barton, where he could peddle his vintage scores, and later sold items at the St. Lawrence Antique Market. He shared his unique perspective with good listeners everywhere, and made many friends (and sales). He continued to appreciate great curbside and thrift scores, having an eye for kitsch, a mind for pricing, and an attitude for haggling.

His passion for frisbee golf was lifelong, and he continued playing as long as he could, using his electric scooter to get to a course near his home regularly until the Summer of 2023. His dream was to create a Tour of the Planets course, with each basket representing one of the planets, as a fun and educational experience for children. While this dream hasn’t yet been fully realized, the idea is certainly out there, as he was never shy to share his plans for world domination through this once fringe sport.

Stephen of course also spent much of the past 12 years as a family man, having been blessed with two children, Isadora (Izzy) and Emile, later in life. In fact he became both a father and grandfather in the same year, 2012. He spent time with his wife and children making toast, playing guitar, making up stories, building LEGO, and drawing, among other things. He was especially proud of Izzy’s great arm for frisbee, and especially enjoyed playing cars with Emile. With Andrea, they shared bike riding when this was possible, collected driftwood, listened to the Lord of the Rings, and had a deep mutual love of finding free stuff, a.k.a curbside “beachcombing,” and played frisbee golf together. Stephen also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and vacationing with his family annually for at least 10 years at a cottage on Old Man’s Lake near Magnetawan, Ontario. The family loved this area so much they even bought 10 acres together nearby, and were delighted to share the cottage with dear friends Tara, Jason and Max this summer. Other special and memorable times were spent camping with family and friends at Sandbanks Provincial Park, another annual tradition. He demonstrated his love for this planet by demonstrating with Extinction Rebellion, getting arrested at a protest that blocked the Bloor Viaduct in 2019 to demand more action on Climate Change.

Stephen was supported by his men’s group, a Heart Circle called the Circle of Peers. The small, self-facilitated support group provides a loving and caring space for men who want to become better husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. The group enfolded Stephen during his stay at the Michael Garron hospital by hosting two circles there this summer, as well as at the Bridgepoint hospital in the final week before Stephen’s passing. Stephen’s vulnerability, sensitivity, and clarity in the circle was inspiring, and his presence will be missed. The family wishes to thank group members: Stephen Davies, Tom Kovacs, Ron Ensing, Brian MacMillan, Dermot Grove-White, Dr. George Lewis, Sheldon Rose. With additional support and presence from their brothers David Gunn, Tim Wilson, Dave Presley, Michael Boulger, and Tamas Dombi. Thank you for your support, and engaging with him in a pursuit that mattered deeply to him.

Stephen died peacefully, embraced by his loving family. He leaves behind his wife, Andrea Blonde, and their children Isadora Hypatia Eloise Lye (11), and Emile Thelonius Starling Lye (5), his daughter Daya Kiara Sunflower Lye and her family, including husband Marinko Jareb and their children Lenka Marina Iris Jareb Lye and Io Marinko Murray Jareb Lye, as well as countless friends. On the other side, he joins his parents John “Jack” Lye and Mary “Babs” Cecil, step-father Murray Darragh, and older brother Peter Lye. He is missed for his playful spirit, big heart, weird ideas, picky tastes, great laughter, self-taught guitar playing, deep insights and leaps of imagination. He is now everywhere all the time, and we remain deeply connected to him.

In his memory, please make a donation to any environmental charity, or think of him as you make up a story for your kids or grandkids, be silly, pick up something amazing from the trash (manifest it first if you can!), play a round of frisbee golf (this you need to take seriously), plant a tree, eat something vegan, raw, or try to eat photons (cuz, ya know), expand your mind and think about something in a completely new, backwards, upside down or inside out way. Anyway, just generally keep it weird and wonderful! And lastly, please have yourself or someone you love screened for prostate cancer (just a simple blood test might have changed the outcome for Stephen, had it been done early enough).

The family wishes to send heartfelt thanks to the cancer care teams at North York General Hospital and Michael Garron Hospital, including, and most especially to the incredible Palliative team at Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital, including Dr. Jeff and Dr. Jonah, Nurses Andrew, Danielle, Beth and Vicky, and Social Worker Brenda. They helped make something really hard much easier.

Please note that aquamation has taken place, and all are invited to join a celebration of Stephen’s life at 2pm on April 21st in Toronto, at the Bain Co-op, 100 Bain Avenue, Toronto. Please share memories below. If you'd like to share photos, please do so on his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stephenelliot.lye

"Death has nothing to do with going away. The sun sets and the moon sets, but they're not gone." ~Rumi


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