Cover photo for John Scott Bell's Obituary
John Scott Bell Profile Photo
1942 John 2024

John Scott Bell

August 11, 1942 — January 4, 2024


John Scott Bell (August 11, 1942 - January 4, 2024)

Born and raised in Toronto, John was a proud Canadian, devoted son, father and grandfather, with a larger than life personality.   The younger son of Larry (Lawrence Land) and Eunice (Stout Montgomery) Bell, John day-dreamed his way through school until, while studying at Northern Secondary, he found his true calling - the world of design and woodworking.    Little did he know then, how central these two passions would become in his life-long journey.  

A tireless advocate for design, John studied drafting and architecture at Toronto Metropolitan University (then Ryerson), where he met Diana Walsh. They married in 1965 and sons Scott and Andrew followed soon after.   In 1971 they moved to Orillia, Ontario, where John purchased a small custom furniture business in Severn Bridge. The die was cast for a long and successful entrepreneurial career to come.  

While juggling a young family and struggling business, and still very new to Orillia - John found time to get involved and make a contribution to the community.  He was one of four community leaders who fought to save and preserve the now iconic Orillia Opera House.  He served as lead on the city’s heritage committee several times and continued as an active member right up to the end.  Sailing was another passion - and along with friends, he volunteered and supported Orillia youth at the local sailing club.   Along with his brother and cousins, John took the lead on bringing the Bell/Montgomery clan together for their annual Christmas reunion, originally at the Granite Club and more recently at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, where John has been a life-long member.    

After John and Diana went their separate ways, he dedicated long hours and many years to forging the ongoing success of Pioneer Handcraft.   Today the business is over 70 years old and operating under the capable leadership of daughter-in-law Joanne and son Andrew.   John loves the business … the quality of the workmanship, the purity of the materials, the smell of the shop and most of all - their wonderful staff and customers; many of whom have become good friends over the years. 

No summary of John’s life would be complete without mentioning his love for cottages - it is an ever-present thread throughout and became the very heart and soul of his professional life.  His childhood summers were idyllic - spent on Six Mile Lake at his parents’ cottage. However, he loved the big, open water of Georgian Bay and in 2003, with then wife Jane Sorensen, he bought his dream cottage.  Remote and beautifully sited - over the years, it has become increasingly comfortable and sustainable - it is where he was most happy.  

John leaves behind his brother David and wife, Beverly, sons Scott (Joyce) and Andrew (Joanne), grandchildren Oliver, Gabriella, Olivia and Declan Bell and his ‘almost grandchildren’ Victoria, Charlie and Hunter.  He also leaves his long-time partner Susanne (Laperle) and many cherished friends from all corners of Orillia, Toronto and Georgian Bay.  

Special thanks to Dr. Derek Ney at the Royal Victoria Hospital (Barrie) and Drs. F. Lam, Kenny Ngo and Mike Odlozinski in Orillia for their care and advice these many years.   Additional thanks to some close friends who have given such great support to John during his journey … Chris and Nina, Peter and Carol, Wendy and John - it may not have seemed much to you at the time - but your support meant the world to John. 

John passed away after just a few short days of battling pneumonia and he has been cremated.  A Celebration of John’s Life will be held at St. James' Anglican Church, 58 Peter St., N., Orillia, on Friday, April 26th, 2024, at 4 pm   If you wish to make a donation in John’s memory - please do so to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada care of their website. <>  It would mean and help a lot.  Thank you.  Messages of condolence are welcomed at     


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