Autumn 2017 / Life on Campus
A Legacy of Mentorship

U of T creates memorial scholarship and chair in honour of alumnus Geoff Taber, who died tragically in a fire in 2016


Headshot of Geoff Taber.

Geoff Taber. Photo: Courtesy of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.

Geoff Taber (LLB 1985) was the lawyer that new-technology entrepreneurs wanted on their side. The partner at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP did much more than dispense legal advice – he mentored and encouraged the founders of tech startups. Taber died last Christmas Eve at age 56, in a fire at his Stoney Lake cottage that also killed his wife and their two teenage sons.

In keeping with his legacy, the Faculty of Law and Rotman School of Management have established the Geoff Taber Memorial Scholarship. Starting in the fall of 2018, the scholarship will be awarded to four students annually in the JD/MBA program who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership skills and financial need. More than half of the $1 million needed has been raised so far. Rotman is also creating the Geoff Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation to foster research in a subject Taber was passionate about.

Taber co-founded Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto, a program for science-based tech startups. He also advised participants in The Next 36, a business accelerator for young innovators. His passion for championing Canada’s tech innovators grew out of his work at Osler, where he founded the firm’s Emerging Companies Group.

Benjamin Alarie, Osler Chair in Business Law at U of T, sought Taber’s help with establishing his own company, Blue J Legal – which sells AI software for solving tax disputes. He says Taber provided excellent legal counsel, shared useful business insights and advised him to set a higher fundraising goal. “He got excited by new business ideas, and he encouraged me to think big and try new approaches,” he says.

A New York native, Taber regularly attended the hockey and soccer games of his sons, Scott, who was 15, and Andrew, who was 13. Jacquie Gardner captured his heart while she was articling at Osler, and they married in 2000. A group of his friends have created the Taber Family Foundation to raise money for a seating area at his favourite retreat, Riverdale’s Withrow Park.

For more information contact Wasila Baset at 416-946-8227 or wasila.baset@utoronto.ca.


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