Then-candidate Mike Ciolfi, at his in-laws' farm in Fenwick in 2018. GLORIA KATCH

Tested positive for COVID-19, cause of death not announced

Pelham Ward One Councillor Mike Ciolfi has died. Ciolfi, who had been feeling ill for weeks, received confirmation early last week that he had the COVID-19 virus. Before his test result was known, he told the Voice on Saturday, April 4, that if he continued to feel as ill as he was then he would not be able to participate in last Monday’s Pelham Town Council meeting, even by teleconference.  Responding to a Voice query as to how he was feeling last Monday afternoon, Ciolfi replied, “Not much change…thanks for asking, much appreciated.” He was absent from the meeting.

He died at home Sunday evening. An official cause of death has not been announced. Ciolfi, who would have turned 52 on May 7, leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Elected to council in 2018, Ciolfi worked at Thurston Machines Co. in Port Colborne for some three decades, and was the president and treasurer of the charity group Club Castropignano. Among his many community contributions, Ciolfi helped organize a Tomatofest that benefited the United Way and was a lacrosse, soccer, and baseball coach.

“It’s hard to believe,” said Mayor Marv Junkin. “We’re all trying to absorb a huge loss. He was a big strong guy. Shaking his hand was like meeting a grizzly bear.”

In his eighteen months on council, Ciolfi built a reputation as a diligent and attentive representative, a fact that Junkin emphasized.

“He was always taking notes,” Junkin said. “When there was a question, he would always pull out his records and have an answer.” Junkin recounted a time that one of Ciolfi’s constituents called him about a garbage issue.

“I don’t know if the garbage truck came late or what, but some wild animal or something had pulled his trash all over the lawn. Mike went down there and picked up the garbage himself. He didn’t mind going the extra mile. He took the job very seriously.”

Junkin didn’t know Ciolfi prior to the election, but said that he had grown to know him well since. Recently, the two attended a rural municipalities association meeting in Toronto, with Ciolfi driving the pair into the city.

“I got to know him better personally on that trip,” said Junkin. “He was a hell of a family man, and just a great guy.”

In a statement released early Monday afternoon, the Town of Pelham said that municipal flags will fly at half-mast in Ciolfi’s honour for a week. DON RICKERS

Pelham CAO David Cribbs praised Ciolfi for his reasonableness and work ethic.

“Councillor Ciolfi was frequently a voice of reason and was a pleasure to work for,” said Cribbs. “He was kind, friendly, warm and dedicated. He worked really hard. This will be devastating for his family, but will also leave a gaping hole for the community.”

Ciolfi finished first in Ward One in 2018. When running that year, Ciolfi told the Voice that he was proud to live in Pelham.

“We have the best wineries, best vegetable and fruit farms in Ontario, and great golf courses,” he said, and pledged to remain positive as councillor, a promise Junkin says he kept.

“I’m not combative,” said Ciolfi. “I’ve learned to work with people’s strengths, not their weaknesses.”

With reporting by Dave Burket


UPDATED April 13 to add additional context to Ciolfi’s communications with the Voice regarding his COVID-19 testing and symptoms. The Voice learned of Ciolfi’s positive result after Niagara Region began contacting those who were present in council chambers with him during the council meeting of March 23.



Publisher’s Corner: Ciolfi was one in a million

Drive-by vigil honours Ciolfi and family

Council delayed, Town Hall closed

Mike Ciolfi on the campaign trail



  1. We are just devastated to here the news of Mikes passing. Mike was such a great guy and even though it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Mike we will always remember him as the gentle giant that he was. Mike and my husband played baseball together. We were honoured to be invited to Mike and Michells wedding and share in their beautiful day. Mike was lucky to find such a wonderful women and they were such a great couple. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michelle his daughters as well as the rest of his family
    Caesar and Cheryl Tiano

  2. I have known Mike Ciolfi for many years and he was the nicest man a person could ever meet. Always ready to help out with anything you were doing and always with a big smile. Like someone else said his hands were twice the size as mine and he shook hands like a gorilla. Anytime you needed a hand he was all in. I raced at Merrittville Speedway for years and Mike was always around if you needed help with anything. I will miss his big smile right up in my face.

  3. Richard and Bona Reuter and Family,
    We are so saddened by the passing of Mike. We had come to know Mike over the past few years. He was a fine person highly thought of and an excellent role model for all. His contribution to his community was commendable. Our condolences to Mikes wife and daughters and sister Mary and her husband Sam.

    Dick Reuter
    Former Mayor, City of Welland

  4. Hi Michelle so sorry to hear about Mike very shocked and sad Mike was a great guy remember when first started a Thurstons watch him move the latter had a lot of good times with him played a lot of golf also in touraments even won a couple always had a great time lots of laughs and a few pops we will dearly miss him. Gary twerdohlib

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