Robert Holtam



Eight days before Christmas, Rob Holtam passed away suddenly, the result of a lifelong heart condition.


He was 27.  


A kind, friendly man, Rob was happiest when entertaining a crowd.  He could seem very reserved around some but was vibrant and engaging amongst those with whom he felt comfortable.  Rob was always listening, processing and ready with thoughtful responses.  From his comedian father, he inherited a delightfully dry sense of humour, never failing to light up a room with the sound of his laughter.   


Rob grew up in the Beach neighbourhood, attending St. Denis and Neil McNeil before majoring in English at University of Toronto.  An avid reader, he had a thirst for knowledge and planned to go back to school to further his studies in music.


Rob was musically artistic, having studied drums and percussion for several years, playing gigs in a wide range of bands.  He was a natural drummer, often drumming on something, most likely because, like all drummers, he always had a beat going in his head.  Performing and watching live music was a passion, whether it was a large concert setting or local venue.  He was very fond of jazz and enjoyed the Beaches Jazz Festival every July.  Rob also had a penchant for heavy metal.  While he appreciated all kinds of music, classic rock was a favourite, from Rush and Tragically Hip to Tom Petty and Neil Young.


Coming from a creative family, Rob not only had a talent for music, he was also blessed with an innate ability for writing along with an uncanny eye for photography.  As part of his legacy he has left many beautiful photographs behind.  His subject matter and point of view were distinctive – his sunset pictures, spectacular.  Rob loved the Beach and enjoyed spending time by the water, taking tons of pictures of the area.  He knew how to appreciate and capture the beauty of nature through his unique perspective.


Rob grew up watching and playing baseball, attending countless Blue Jays games over the years in his family’s season ticket seats.  He was present at the famous “bat-flip” playoff game.  Coincidentally, his interest in baseball and music collided at a Jays’ event when he literally bumped into Rush’s Geddy Lee.  He was thrilled to have had “a brush with greatness.”


Another passion of Rob's was cars.  Every year without fail, he and his dad attended the Canadian International Auto Show — a father and son tradition.  Rob was proud of being able to drive a stick shift, a skill he had effortlessly acquired  from the early age of 12.  In 2000, he and his dad researched, test-drove and ultimately bought a sports car that would take them on many adventures.  The two went on summer road trips together which took them to destinations like Washington, Boston, Baltimore, Vermont, Cooperstown and Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 


Father-son traditions also included spending time together every summer at the cottage on Lake Simcoe – another favoured site for his photography.  There they enjoyed canoeing, fishing, hiking, swimming and competitive games of Scrabble.   Nighttimes saw them bonding over the campfire where they put the world to rights.


Rob loved movies, both current and classic.  He was brought up to appreciate all types of cinema.  Thanks to his dad, he had an understanding of how films are made and hoped one day to work in the industry in some capacity.  He loved talking about movies – one of his preferred discussions being, “is Die Hard the ultimate Christmas movie?”  The Big Lebowski was in his Top 10 Films.  Rob was even known to dress as his favourite character, The Dude, for the occasional Halloween party.


In recent years, he developed an interest in the culinary arts.  Inspired by celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain, he took great pride in preparing very imaginative and inspired meals on a regular basis.


Rob met and knew a wide array of people and travelled in many circles.  He was at his best with friends.  He enjoyed the company of others and appreciated an informed dialogue.  Be it political, philosophical, or pop cultural, he always welcomed other points of view.  He loved to laugh.  He loved making others laugh.  So it goes without saying that he enjoyed watching stand-up comedy.  Bill Burr and David Letterman were amongst his favourite comedians. 


Paradoxically, while he reveled in the company of others, he was also a very private individual.  Like many creative people, Rob had his introverted moments and used the time alone to reflect and meditate, often spending hours writing in his journal.  


A complex and enigmatic character, Rob Holtam insisted on one thing:  living each day on his own terms.


Those fortunate enough to have spent time with Rob knew him for his adventurous spirit, love of life, artistic view of the world and, of course, that wicked laugh and sense of humour.  Rob had a personality that was impossible to dislike.  He leaves behind many fond memories that will endure in our hearts forever.


Please remember Rob as we do:  

A kind and gentle soul who touched many lives.



We encourage you to add your memories, photos and sentiments to help us celebrate Rob’s life here on his memorial website.  Also, please take a moment to view the beautiful film made by his sister Kristi.


Those wishing to do so, are welcome make a contribution in his name to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada via the link provided on the homepage of this site.