Professor emeritus charged with murder

Queen’s professor emeritus David Canvin, 74, has been charged with first-degree murder following the death of his daughter.

At approximately 6 p.m. on Friday, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received an emergency call from a residence north of the village of Sydenham, according to an OPP news release.

Police went to the Snug Harbour Resort on Desert Lake, where they discovered the body of 41-year-old Sarah Canvin. The release reported that she had suffered serious injuries. According to the Kingston Whig-Standard, Sarah Canvin had been shot. OPP would not confirm this detail, citing a pending investigation.

Sgt. Kristine Cholette of the OPP told the Journal that Sarah Canvin was taken by ambulance to Kingston General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

At the same time, Sarah’s father David Canvin was arrested “without incident,” Cholette said.

She said she could not divulge the identity of the 911 caller, as he or she would be a prospective witness in the event of a trial.

“A post-mortem has been completed, but they’re not releasing the cause of death,” Cholette said, adding that it’s up to the investigator to decide when the cause of death will be released.

Canvin is a professor emeritus in the biology department, which he headed from 1980-84.

He was also the dean of graduate studies from 1984-89. He joined Queen’s faculty in 1965. In 2001, an award was created in his name with money donated by colleagues and friends in honour of his retirement that year.

A neighbour of the family, who declined to give her name, described the incident as a “terrible tragedy.”

“It’s affected the whole family,” she told the Journal, referring to the Canvins.

Former Queen’s Principal Bill Leggett told the Journal he thinks the recent events are “tragic.”

“I have no idea what to think,” he said. “I’m just shocked.”

Leggett said that while he himself wasn’t close to Canvin, he met him in several meetings and knew him by reputation.

“He was an outstanding individual,” he said. “[Canvin] was a very caring man who, in my understanding … was deeply interested in students and their welfare, and went the extra mile for them whenever he could.”

Leggett said Canvin was one of the most successful department heads at the University at the time, and was known internationally for his research.

Sarah Canvin’s obituary, which appeared in Monday’s Whig, said she attended Film Studies at York University and Queen’s University.

“Although Sarah endured many years of mental illness, she strived to enjoy many interests in life including arts and crafts, movies, music, art, literature, cooking, cookbooks, sewing and especially her beautiful french country garden at Snug Harbour Resort,” the obituary said.

Cholette said Canvin has been temporarily released from police custody.

“He’s had a bail hearing and will appear on Wednesday in Kingston court,” she said, adding that there are no other suspects at this time.

Leggett said he doesn’t know Canvin’s family, and from what he has read in the paper, the charge against the former dean is “beyond comprehension.”

“[Canvin was] just a genuinely nice person,” he said. “Someone you’d enjoy meeting with, interacting with.”

The investigation is being continued by OPP officers of the South Frontenac detachment under the direction of Det.

Insp. Kathy Rippey of the Criminal Investigation Branch.

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