Bhagwant Parmar, business leader and community volunteer, dies at 68

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Bhagwant Parmar, a longtime Brockville hotelier known for his commitment to the community, has died at the age of 68.

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Family members said Parmar died Monday in Ottawa as a result of unexpected health complications.

“Bhagwant Parmar was a generous community farmer who was greatly admired by the people in his life, always with a kind word for those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him and I am grateful for the time I have with him Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Michael Barrett said in a prepared statement on Friday.

“Bhagwant loved his family very much and was very proud of Canada and his community here in Brockville.”

Brockville Mayor Mike Kalivas, who has served with Parmar on the Brockville and District Multicultural Council, among other things, said Parmar is “a real advocate” for the council’s efforts.

“This is a real loss to our community,” Kalivas said Friday, also recalling Parmar’s devotion to his family.

“He was a real gentleman,” said the mayor.

Parmar, an example of immigrant success, arrived in Canada from India and eventually became a leader in Brockville’s hotel sector. Long the largest hotelier in Brockville, he also owned the Travelodge, the Royal Brock and the Days Inn.

The Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce named him Businessman of the Year in 2004. It was just one of the many awards he carried with him for both his business endeavors and community service after relocating to Ottawa after his retirement.

Bhagwant Singh Parmar was born on January 20, 1954 in the small village of Dihana, Punjab, India. He worked as a school teacher in India for eight years and returned to the same high school where he himself had previously studied.

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Parmar first came to Canada in the early 1980s and moved in with his sister in Nanaimo, BC. When interviewed in 2019 after his retirement, he told The Recorder and Times his initial plan was to stay with his parents in India, but his father foresaw the coming troubles in the Punjab and told him to move to Canada.

Unfortunately, the prediction came true. Parmar, a Sikh, noted in 2019 that the Indian government’s raid on the Golden Temple took place in 1984, followed by the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi later that year, followed by deadly anti-Sikh riots.

After marrying in Vancouver, he moved to Ontario to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ryerson University. His interest in tourism and hospitality eventually brought him to Brockville.

In addition to his business success, Parmar found it important to contribute to his community.

He noted in 2019 that his father, who faced death during the partitions of India and Pakistan, always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community, and Parmar carried that belief around the world.

Parmar’s awards include the Hotel Association of Canada’s Humanitarian Award, the Ontario Accommodation Association’s Butler Award and the 2004 Immigration Contribution Award from Kingston and Area Immigration Services.

His many years as a junior football coach earned him a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He also has a Canada 150 Medal for Exceptional Community Service.

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Parmar has also been involved with local junior hockey organizations, local school councils, the Brockville Police Services Board, the Brockville and District Multicultural Council, the Canadian Tourism Commission and most recently the St. Lawrence Parks Commission – a position he retained after retirement.

While he and his wife Satnam moved to Ottawa shortly after their retirement, they often returned to Brockville to spend time at their cottage.

Parmar is survived by Satnam as well as his children Hans Raj, Sonia and Monica.

Family and friends are invited to pay their respects Sunday at 10:00 am at the Pinecrest Visitation Center, 2500 Baseline Road, Ottawa. The funeral service begins at 11:00 am, followed by a private cremation.

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