Thomas Earl Benner

January 5, 1950 – September 21, 2022

In his own words, Tom left this planet peacefully. He died at home with his best friends, Pauline and Dennis, at his side. What a life he lived!

Tom was born and raised in London, Ontario. He studied art at H.B. Beal Secondary School. Tom always wanted to be an artist and he loved making art. He was a voracious reader and scoured the library researching his projects.

Tom continued to create sculptures, in spite of living with Parkinson’s, until he passed away. His most recent works were a life-sized Polar Bear and an oversized Sandhill Crane – both happily residing on the farm of a private art collector.

He had so many more sculptures to build.

Tom has been a large part of the Canadian art scene since the early 1970’s. His iconic “White Rhino” graces the front lawn of Museum London. His work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions across Canada, the United States, and internationally. His art can be found in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Confederation Centre for the Arts, the Tom Thomson Gallery, major galleries across Canada, in public institutions, corporate collections, and in many private art collections.

A sculptor, a painter and an installation artist, Tom was ahead of his time. His work has been described as multi-layered, physically demanding, powerful, and political. He expressed his ideas through finely crafted, idiosyncratic, complex objects intended to delight the eye while challenging the viewer to question how we live in this world.

Tom created sculptures and paintings to commemorate his favourite trees, endangered and extinct wildlife, and little known or lost Indigenous histories within the Canadian narrative. Noted art scholar, Joan Murray, said “Tom Benner is a spirit for the twenty-first century, eloquent without being didactic, serious without being weighty. Benner’s work offers a timely perspective. He ventures into unknown territory and subjects, contending with realities and ambiguities while looking ahead. His work is far-sighted and prophetic. He is already some kind of classic to be understood and valued. His work will continue to reward viewers who seek artists relevant to the crucial issues of nature, Indigenous histories, and the environment today. It will take us a while to catch up.”

Art critic, Gary Michael Dault, wrote in the Globe and Mail after visiting Tom’s Auto Show exhibit at U of T, “what Benner does have at the ready is a profound and rather urgent sense of the distortions of history and a passionate need to question received ideas. I think of Benner as a rolling anthropologist. He sees himself as a historian.”

Tom was renowned for his cooking skills and storytelling, both of which he shared generously. His jalapeños rellenos and tacos were a favourite of family and friends. He held his children and nieces and nephews in awe (or doubled over in laughter!) as he told and retold his childhood adventures. They will carry those stories with them forever.

Deeply missed by his wife, Pauline McHenry, his brother-in-law Dennis, extended family, and close friends. Tom’s quiet strength and creative talent live on in his much loved children: Alice (Rich), Leif (Karen), Traven (Kristin); grandchildren, Max, Luc, Elijah, Henry, Lucinda, and Elora. He is survived by his siblings Ron (Jamelie), Cathy (Tony d.), David (Yin) and Lori (Alan).

During these last months, Tom was grateful to our thoughtful, cherished friends, our family, and our neighbours who have dropped by with food, flowers and many a kind word. You mean so much to us. The last part of Tom’s journey was made easier with your love, support and kindness. A special mention to the incredible support staff at Medical Priorities who were key in Tom’s care.

We will miss you Tommy.

At Tom’s request, no service will be held. Please send flowers to someone you care about and think of Tom.  Arrangements entrusted with Cremation London & Middlesex, 519-858-2467. Online condolences shared at

  1. Dear Pauline and Dennis,
    My condolences to you and your family .
    Tom was a talented artist with a gentle smile and a caring spirit!

    Love always,🙏🏻
    Frances Boone

  2. Dear Pauline, Dennis and the Benner bunch…
    Sending much love and sympathy for the loss of a wonderfully unique, talented soul, who I had the privilege of calling my cousin.

  3. Heartfelt Condolences To Pauline, Dennis and Tom’s family we are truly sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you now.
    May Tom RIP.

  4. Peter and I are both sad to hear this news. We remember Tom as a wonderful neighbour, artist and friend. Condolences to the family,. It was a privilege to know Tom and I will think of him often as we gaze at our precious paddle print,
    Sue and Peter Hoffman

  5. We will miss you Tom especially our horoscope readings every morning.
    You were a wonderful, gentle man.
    Rest In Peace
    Cathy and Don Pearson

  6. Dear Pauline , Dennis and family.
    Deepest condolences for your loss.
    Thinking of you and I miss you both.
    Marnie McArthur
    Caledon and Muskoka

  7. Dear Pauline & Family
    We are so sorry to hear about Tom. We are sending you and all who loved him our deepest condolences.
    Vic & Denise

  8. Such a treasure we have had in our midst and what a legacy he has left. My sympathy to you, Pauline and all of Tom’s family

  9. This is very sad news. I hadn’t seen Tom for a long time, but I’ll remember him as not only an interesting and talented artist, but as one of the sweetest, gentlest souls I’ve ever known. My most sincere sympathy for Pauline and Dennis and all his children and grandchildren.

  10. I’m sorry to learn of Tom’s passing. I haven’t seen Tom for decades but I recall seeing him many different times in London in art galleries & other venues, during my younger years. Beyond his notable contribution to the arts, he was just a really nice guy. I extend my sincere condolences to his family & friends, including brother Ron (& Jamelie).

  11. We remember Tom with fondness – his good nature, his intellect and good humour. We are lucky to have known him when we lived upstairs in your beautiful house. His art was all around us – from the decorated bricks in the garden to the copper fireplace mantle he made.
    With warm embraces for you and Dennis.
    Maryam and Dario

  12. Tom was a great guy. We are the better for having him in our lives.
    My condolences to Pauline and the family.

  13. Heartfelt Condolences To Pauline and the Benner and McHenry families.
    Tom was one of a kind and his positive attributes will be sorely missed.
    Maria & Doug

  14. My heartfelt condolences to Pauline, Jamelie & Ron & Families,
    Maureen and Gilbert Moll ” in spirit!”

  15. Dear Alice and Family,

    Sending my deepest condolences to you and your Family for the loss of your Dad. You are in my thoughts and prayers. 🙏🙏

  16. I’m so sorry to hear of Toms passing. I know I haven’t seen him in a few years, but I think of him often. I especially remember our visits when I look at the pieces of art I’m fortunate to own hanging on my walls. My heart goes out to Pauline and family. I feel blessed that I knew him. Thank you.

  17. We were so fortunate to know Tom, such a brilliant & wonderful friend. Our deepest sympathy Pauline & Dennis & all his extended family.

    Love Ted & Joanne Verwaayen.

  18. My condolences to Pauline and Denis as well as to Ron and Jamelle for the loss of Tom in your lives. The London art community has lost a cherished icon. Tom has left a legacy through his art that will continue to be admired.

  19. Pauline. I read with sadness for you and your family about the loss of your beloved husband. Although our paths have not crossed recently, you are in my thoughts.

  20. Dear Pauline,
    Thinking of you and Dennis at this most difficult time.
    Sincere condolences.
    Janet Schleihauf Burgess

  21. Dear Pauline and Dennis. My deepest condolences to you and your family. I will remember Tom as a wonderful neighbor and friend

  22. When I told my son of Tom’s death he said “He was always nice to me.”

    Who of us would not ask for that legacy…

    My condolences to all who love and who will miss him on this planet.

  23. Dear Pauline and Traven, Our deepest sympathies to you and all your families. Tom was a great neighbour and friend as well as an incredible artist. I’m sorry that we haven’t seen you and Tom in so many years but we have thought of you.

  24. To Pauline and Dennis, and family,
    So sad to hear about Tom and so sorry for your loss. We always appreciated his art, especially the rhino by Museum London.

    Our sincere sympathies,

    Your neighbours, Julie and Adam

  25. My condolences to all of the Benner family. I remember Tom as always speaking kindly.
    Kim Wilkie

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