10 – 18 September 2022 Ontario, Canada

Celebrating Donna Speigel!

On August 1st, Donna passed away.

Donna was well known by rowers all over the world. She combined her love of rowing with creating opportunities and events to help others fall in love with rowing and with Canada. She did so with exuberance, delight and warmth.

In addition to helping to build the Sudbury Rowing Club, she and her husband, Mitch, organized the 2012 World Rowing Tour in Northern Ontario. At the time of her death, Donna was a core member of the Executive Committee for the 2022 World Rowing Tour that will be held in Prince Edward County. She also participated in many OAR rowing adventures.

Donna had remarkable accomplishments outside of rowing. In Sudbury, she organized the first breast examination clinic and was part of the core group that created palliative care options for patients. She was also part of the group advocating for, and creating, the Sudbury Cancer Centre.

Psy­chol­o­gist. Wife. Mother. Rower. The Globe and Mail, Dec 15, 2021

Full obituary.

Celebrating Donna Speigel

Donna and I were chatting, stroke to 3-seat, while waiting for a lock to empty. It was a glorious, sunny day, gorgeous vistas over flat water, rocks and pine trees. Donna looked around and said, “I am so glad for the life I’ve had. As a young woman I never pictured myself living in Sudbury! I grew up in Toronto and until I met Mitch, I knew nothing about the north. But I’m so glad things turned out the way they did. In Toronto, I would have been just another Jewish princess, part of a crowd, all volunteering at the same places. In Sudbury, I’ve had so many opportunities and so many experiences I would never have had if I’d stayed in Toronto. Like rowing. I have traveled and met so many people and had many experiences, just from this.

And I thought, that’s it; that’s what we should all be able to say about our lives.

I will miss you.


While I only had the pleasure of participating in a few tours with Donna, the stories that are shared about her legendary ‘Black Fly’ tours and the 2012 FISA World Rowing Tour that she organized make me just a little jealous of those who were able to enjoy her organizational skills and company.  Ontario Adventure Rowing has benefitted greatly from Donna’s knowledge, experience, encouragement and support and I look forward to rowing in the ‘Donna Speigel’ on future OAR tours.


Two smiling women.

My very first rowing tour was a Black Fly Tour – and it was amazing-thanks to Donna and Mitch. I went back to northern Ontario for more tours – always looking forward to great company and spectacular waters. Donna – a great laugh and a quiet reassuring voice when you really needed it. Your love of rowing was contagious. You were a bright light!

Miss you.  


Woman with boats pulled up on the shore and many other people in the background.

I didn’t have the gift of knowing Donna as a friend. I met her a couple of years ago on my first Muskoka Tour. Clearly, she was in the company of longtime friends. But she went out of her way to be so welcoming and encouraging to the newbies on the Tour. She shared her joy of rowing, her delight in her extended crew/family and her pride in what the community in Sudbury. Checking out the Sudbury boathouse remains a goal I will achieve.

I am absolutely humbled by what she accomplished outside rowing. To her family, thank you for sharing Donna with us.


Woman laughing.

Remember well the reconditioning of the wooden touring boat and how Donna and Liz were so pleased that I had taken on the task. Donna had such a gracious way about her.


Woman wearing pearls.

Many thanks to the Speigel family and Shelagh Baker for the photographs.