Filmmaker and environmentalist Larry Gosnell died of natural causes in Toronto on March 23. He was 80.
Air of Death, his most celebrated documentary for the CBC, triggered environmental awareness in Canada in 1967 when it revealed that fluoride fumes emitted by a Southern Ontario fertilizer plant were poisoning plants and livestock in the area.
In 1969, after Gosnell and Air of Death’s narrator, Stanley Burke, showed their documentary to a biology class at the University of Toronto, the students were so moved they were encouraged to form Pollution Probe, a group that pressured the Government of Ontario into creating Canada’s first environmental ministry.
Gosnell was raised on a farm in Orford Township in Southwestern Ontario. He worked for the National Film Board and its campus library while he majored in agricultural economics at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph. In 1949, he graduated and continued to work for the NFB, making agricultural documentaries until he joined the CBC in 1965.
Gosnell retired in 1990. He is survived by his wife Denise, sons Sean, Christopher and Francis, and two sisters.