In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Robert Ashton (Bob) Willson, C.D.


Commander, RCN / C.A.F.


Born: 30 Dec 1932, Bracebridge, Ontario


Died: 10 Nov 2021


WILLSON, Robert A. (Bob) - was born in Bracebridge, son of Marjorie (Coombs) and Fred Willson. He grew up in Toronto, where he attended Pape School and Riverdale C.I. Leaving University of Toronto after his 2nd year, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy as Midshipman in 1953, serving in HMC Ships ONTARIO, TORONTO, and MAGNIFICENT, before going to England in 1955 as a Sub Lieutenant for training with the Royal Navy. After returning to Canada in 1957, he joined HMCS HAIDA in Halifax, NS. Bob subsequently served in COWICHAN, RESTIGOUCHE and ANNAPOLIS as a specialist in Naval Operations and Communications, later commanding HMCS ANNAPOLIS 1975-77. He had many shore appointments in Canada, the UK and Norway, before retiring in 1987. A graduate of the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich, he also earned a BA in Geography from Carlton University. After retirement, Bob served 11 years as Captain (Manager) of the Historic Naval Ship HAIDA at Ontario Place and was instrumental in having her recognized as a National Historic Monument. He was a founding member and first Executive Director of Friends of HMCS HAIDA, a member of NOAC Toronto, the Naval Club of Toronto, the UNTD Association, RCL Branch 165, and the Historic Naval Ships Association. For several years, he was editor of Anchor Watch, the quarterly journal of HNSA and BUMPH, the quarterly newsletter of NOAC Toronto. Bob was predeceased by his first wife Sheila (Kiely), who was mother of their four children, and by his brother Jim. He is survived by his devoted wife of 25 years, Kathryn, and by his sons Stephen (Megann), Rob (Gwen Whiting), daughters Roxanne Easby (Nigel), Alexandra (Tom Richard), nine grandchildren and four great-granddaughters. Following cremation, Bob will be buried at sea. A memorial service and reception will be held at the Naval Club of Toronto at a later date. In Bob's memory, if able, please send donations to the Parkinson's Foundation, or a charity of your choice. Sunset and evening star And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning at the bar, When I put out to sea. - from Crossing The Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Published by Toronto Star on Nov. 20, 2021.


Ships served in:








HMCS ANNAPOLIS - 7th Commanding Officer - 08 Aug 1975 - 14 May 1977



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