For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar 


Ernest Marwood (Butch) Gummer


Lieutenant-Commander (L), O-29673, RCN


Born: 26 Sep 1922, Halifax, Nova Scotia


Died: 09 Nov 2018, Ottawa, Ontario



It is with sad hearts and a lifetime of cherished memories, the family of Ernest Marwood Gummer shares the news of his passing on November 9, 2018. He was the proud and loving Father of three children: Judy, Richard (Genny) and Diane (Doug); much loved Grandfather of Sarah, Christopher and Andrew. His niece Margo and nephews, Bill, Phil and Ken were also an important part of his family.

Ernest was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 26, 1922, the only son of the late Ernest and Sarah Gummer; originally from Somerset County, England, immigrating to Canada in the early 1900s. He was the younger brother of his four predeceased sisters Edith Vass, Victoria Burns, Doris Auton and Helen Parsons, all of whom spoiled him terribly! One of his sisters created the nickname "Butch", although no one could ever remember how it came about.
Ernie grew up on Fay's Lane in Halifax's south end, where his earliest memories were of his Dad "banking" the house and tending to the potato garden, squashing the "big bugs" with his bare hands. He also fondly remembered the His Masters Voice gramophone which sat on a cabinet between the living and dining rooms. He attended Tower Road Public School, the Halifax Academy and Bloomfield High School. Ernie's first girlfriend was Mary Ernst, with whom he apparently held hands at a Hallowe'en party in Grade 6. While attending Bloomfield, his chemistry teacher and the school's hockey coach introduced Ernie to his first lifelong love - hockey. By graduation, he had become a star player for the varsity team. During high school, Ernie worked at Gorsebrook Golf Course, earning as much as 35 cents for caddying 18 holes, carrying two bags. The money earned was used to buy candy, a little was saved, but most importantly some was spent to go to the theatre with friends - 10 cents for all day cowboy movies on Saturdays. Ernie was also "employed" by the golf course to pick weeds out of the greens, for which he made his very own special tool. For his services he was given "first out" privileges and played often before going to school. Thus began his second lifelong love - golf.

Ernie had so many fond memories of his younger years in Halifax's south end, with three standing out. He loved to skate, usually on the ponds in Point Pleasant Park, keeping his feet warm with pieces of boiled potato from his Dad's garden, put inside his skates. Ernie won speed skating medals in both 1940 and 1941, for relay and individual races. He loved to go to the Halifax Wolverines games at the Forum with his Dad, always standing room, for 10 cents. When they missed the last trolley car home, his Mum would be waiting for them, not very happy, but glad to see her son home safely. He loved to go to work with his Dad on the train to Montreal, on which he cooked in a small, very hot kitchen. This only happened twice - he cherished the memory of these trips.

After high school, Ernie attended St. Mary's College, graduating in 1943 with a Diploma in Engineering. He was a star athlete in both hockey and rugby and was a member of the winning provincial intercollegiate hockey championship team in 1942. On October 14, 2005, Ernest M. Gummer was inducted into the St. Mary's University Sports Hall of Fame; there has never been a prouder alumnus. During university, he spent summers working at a farm near Elgin, Ontario, owned by a relative of his Dad.

On Remembrance Day 1943, Ernie joined the University Naval Training Division of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and served until June 21, 1945. During this period, when permitted, he worked at Canadian Westinghouse as a student engineer. Ernie then enrolled at Nova Scotia Technical College and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1946. While attending NSTC, he played varsity hockey and in 1946 they defeated his alma mater, St. Mary's College, for the intra-city championship. Upon graduating, Ernie joined Maritime Tel & Tel in Halifax as an Assistant Toll Transmission Engineer. He continued playing hockey in various leagues with teams such as Melville Cove, Eastern Canada Stevedoring, Halifax Bruins, Halifax Canadiens and Chester Ravens. He also played baseball for various teams in Halifax industrial leagues.

On April 1, 1949, Ernie joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a Sub-Lieutenant, stationed at HMCS Stadacona. Over the next 16+ years, he served in Halifax, Esquimalt, Prince Rupert, Hamilton and lastly at Naval Headquarters in Ottawa. He also served aboard the HMCS Haida between 1954 and 1956, aboard the HMCS Ottawa in 1957 and aboard the HMCS Bonaventure between 1958 and 1960. Sometime in the early 1950s, Ernie was given and took the opportunity to witness a test of a nuclear bomb in the Nevada desert; he was terrified by the bomb's destructive capabilities. He left the Navy with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in December 1965. While serving at HMCS Stadacona on four separate occasions, Ernie was an active badminton and squash player and became an avid curler, a member of the Club Championship team in 1958.

On January 2, 1966, Ernie joined the Department of Supply and Services in Ottawa as a Procurement Officer & Corporate Planner. In 1976, he became Director, Product Planning managing Canada's Shipbuilding Product Centre and continued in this capacity until 1986. Amongst other responsibilities during this time, Ernie directed the contract administration for the Canadian Patrol Frigate Program and represented Canada on a NATO committee responsible for the development of a common frigate for member countries. In 1986, he accepted the position of Deputy Division Chief and led a team responsible for the procurement program to repair the Department of National Defence's aero engines and electronic systems. Ernie retired from 39 years of public service in June 1988. He was a proud public servant and was dedicated to working for the public good. He was an early and vocal supporter of women breaking the "glass ceiling" in the government hierarchy. Even in his retirement speech, Ernie was still offering suggestions as to how the workplace could be made more challenging and gratifying for those he was leaving.

The last 28 years of his career were spent in Ottawa. During some of this time, Ernie served as a Church Warden at the Parish of St. Richard's. He was an active member of the Navy Curling Club, was President for the 1965-66 season and his team won the RCN Bonspiel in 1967. He was a lifelong member of the YMCA and went there almost daily to exercise, swim and play squash, all of which he thoroughly enjoyed. In the 1970s, Ernie became serious about golf again and joined the Hylands Golf and Country Club, after being an early member at Cedarhill Golf Club. As for hockey, it was limited to a single game every year - on Christmas Day. He would play with the neighbourhood boys in the annual Christmas street hockey game, still as competitive as ever. In one of his proudest moments, on January 8, 1988, in North Bay, Ontario, Ernie carried the Olympic Torch during the torch relay for the Calgary Winter Olympics. He was cheered on loudly by his three children and he kept the Canadian Olympic track suit he wore on this day for his entire life.

After retiring, Ernie remained in Ottawa and pursued his love of golf, playing every weekday until the age of 91 at Hylands. He made many great friends at the Club and enjoyed their lively banter. He continued to be an avid fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Mary's Huskies, loving nothing more than when they were victorious against Montreal and Dalhousie or St. FX respectively. Ernie cheered almost as hard for the Detroit Tigers and got to see them play in a World Series game in Detroit in 2012. He enjoyed breakfasts at Tutti Frutti and he loved lunches or dinners at Chances R. A hot tea and a sweet of some kind was a necessity at the end of every meal. Most of all, Ernie loved his trips, either to visit his children or to visit old friends and family in Nova Scotia. He made these trips often and upon returning from them, he began planning the next one.

After a couple of surgical procedures in his early 90s, Ernie moved into the Ravines retirement residence, where the staff were wonderful to him, always being extremely attentive to his needs and showing him the respect he tried so hard to earn from everyone. Our family cannot thank all of them enough for this. In the autumn of 2018, after time spent with each of his children, Ernie passed away following a brief illness.

Our Father, Ernest Marwood Gummer, was quiet, humble, respectful and proud. He was indeed very quiet, with two exceptions: after a few Bacardis, which happened more often when he was in his beloved Nova Scotia; when someone was late - he just could not understand how anyone could be late, ever.

His humility made it difficult to discover his personal accomplishments; he would rather discuss sports or politics than speak about himself. He was always respectful of others, trying to understand what the other person was thinking before speaking and he was always polite to everyone. He was proud to be a Canadian, he was proud to be a Nova Scotian, he was proud to be a Gummer, he was proud to be the son of English immigrants from Somerset, he was proud to be a St. Mary's alumnus and varsity athlete, he was proud to be the first in his family to receive a university degree, he was proud to be shooting in the 80s when he was in his 80s, he was proud of staying physically and mentally fit into his 90s, but more than anything else, he was proud of his children and grandchildren. We miss him every day. (Ottawa Citizen 03 Aug 2019)


"For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crost the bar."

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Ships served in:

First recording in the Navy List Jul 1949 as a SLt (L), RCN (seniority 01 Apr 1949)

RCN BARRACKS HALIFAX - Appointed to RCN Barrack Halifax (for training) 01 Apr 1949 as a SLt (L), RCN (Navy List 01 Apr 1949)

HMCS MAGNIFICENT - Appointed to Magnificent 17 Aug 1949 as a Lt (L), RCN (Navy List Jan 1950)

RCN BARRACKS ESQUIMALT - Appointed to RCN Barracks Esquimalt 21Mar 1950 as a Lt (L), RCN, Add'l (Project Officer at Matsqui Naval Radio Station and Prince Rupert Naval Radio Station) (Navy List Jul 1950)

HMC DOCKYARD ESQUIMALT - Appointed to HMCS Dockyard Esquimalt, Electrical Engineer Section) 18 Dec 1950 as a Lt (L), RCN (Navy List Jul 1951)

RCN BARRACKS HALIFAX - Appointed to RCN Barracks Halifax 07 Aug 1951 as a Lt (L), RCN, Add'l (Navy List Jan 1952)

NAVAL HEADQUARTERS OTTAWA - Appointed to NHQ Ottawa, Naval Technical Services, Electrical Engineer 05 May 1952 as a Lt (L), RCN (Navy List Jul 1952)

HMCS STAR - Appointed to Star 14 Apr 1953 as a Lt (L), RCN, Add'l (Navy List Jul 1953)

NAVAL HEADQUARTERS OTTAWA - Appointed to NHQ Ottawa, on Staff of Principal Naval Overseer, Toronto as Electrical Overseet for Electronics 20 Nov 1953 as a Lt (L), RCN (Navy List Jan 1954)

HMCS HAIDA - Appointed to Haida 19 Nov 1954 as a Lt (L), RCN (Navy List Jan 1955)

HMCS DOCKYARD ESQUIMALT - Appointed to HMC Dockyard Esquimalt, Electrical Engineering 02 Jul 1956 as a Lt (L), RCN (Navy List Jul 1956)

HMC DOCKYARD HALIFAX - Appointed to HMC Dockyard Halifax, Electrical Engineering 09 Jul 1956 as a LCdr (L), RCN (Navy List Jul 1957)

HMCS OTTAWA - Appointed to Ottawa 22 Oct 1957 as a LCdr (L), RCN (Navy List Jan 1958)

HMC DOCKYARD HALIFAX - Appointed to HMC Dockyard Halifax, Electrical Engineering 03 Dec 1957 as a LCdr (L), RCN (Navy List Jul 1958)

HMCS BONAVENTURE - Appointed to Bonaventure 22 Dec 1958 as a LCdr (L), RCN, Deputy Electrical Officer (Navy List Jan 1959)

NAVAL HEADQUARTERS OTTAWA - Appointed to NHQ Ottawa, Staff of Electrical Engineer-in-Chief 01 May 1959 as a LCdr (L), RCN (Navy List Jul 1960).

NAVAL HEADQUARTERS OTTAWA - Appointed to NHQ Ottawa, Staff of Director of Weapons Systems 30 May 1960 as a LCdr (L), RCN (Navy List Oct 1961).  Appointed to Staff of Director General Fighting Equipment (Navy List Oct 1962)  Appointed to Staff of Director of Weapons Systems (Navy List Oct 1963). CANADIAN FORCES HEADQUARTERS OTTAWA - Appointed to CFHQ Ottawa, Staff of Deputy Chief Operations Readiness (Navy List Oct 1964) (note: all appointment dates for this entry at NHQ and CFHQ Ottawa are 30 May 1960)

CANADIAN FORCES HEADQUARTERS OTTAWA - Appointed to CFHQ Ottawa, Training and Transient 23 Aug 1965 as a LCdr (L), RCN (Navy List Oct 1965)


Crossed the Bar Index