In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
McTAGGART, Leo Francis - passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 12, 2020 while under care at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial hospital. He was 96 years of age.
Leo is survived by his loving daughters, Karen (Steve) and Kimberlee (Chris). He also leaves behind four amazing grandchildren who loved their Grandpa so very much: Kyle, Taylor, Lily and April. Leo was predeceased by his wife Lillian, brother Jimmy, and sisters Bella, Ann, Millie, Flo, Rita, Dorothy and Evelyn; and his beloved parents, James and Annie. Leo will also be missed by the exceedingly large number of extended relatives both in Canada and across the United States for whom he was a true hero and a legend.
Leo was born in Montreal of the late James and Annie (Johnston) McTaggart where at one point the family lived next door to the jazz great Oscar Peterson. Leo grew up a proud and high-spirited Irish Catholic, always eager to make his mark. When he reached his eighteenth year, and with World War II raging, Leo enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy and turned his attention to the Atlantic as a member of the corvette HMCS OWEN SOUND. Many merchant seamen owed their lives to Leo and the countless other brave souls of these escort vessels as they protected convoy passage to and from Europe. In his later years, Leo used to regale many with stories of his adventures across the pond, and occasionally he would let his guard down to include highlights of “running ashore” in Londonderry. The risk he so actively embraced during the war certainly must have strengthened his Irish-Montreal character and steadied his hand for what thereafter would be a full and eventful life.
After the war, Leo moved to Toronto where he worked on the railroad. Subsequently, he moved in with his sister Dorothy and her husband Bill near Lake Simcoe where they ran a combined dance hall and restaurant. Leo stuck around for a few years during which he broke many a heart in the community. After moving back Montreal, upon the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, Leo and a few buddies dropped into the recruiting centre to join the Army. Fate must have intervened for he stopped short of taking the oath and travelled a few yards down the road to HMCS DONNACONA where he re-enlisted in the Regular Navy having transferred to the Reserve component upon demobbing in 1945. Leo served on HMCS HAIDA during the conflict. Following Korea, his Navy career continued out of Halifax as his home port and included tours in England and Scotland where, during the latter posting, he enjoyed his driving so much that a local judge forbid him from driving in Scotland ever again!
As was once proclaimed, any successful Navy man has a remarkably strong and supportive family in the background. A successful Navy career is a team outcome. In Leo’s case, his was no exception. He married his true love Lill in 1962 at the chapel on base in Halifax. They were both blessed with two exceptional children: Karen in 1963 and Kimberlee in 1964. With Leo away at sea a great deal during those times, life was not easy; however, the love of family ensured that he always received big hugs and lots of kisses at the jetty.
Upon retirement from the Navy in 1974 in the rank of Chief Petty Officer First Class, leaving as the Coxswain of HMCS PROTECTEUR, Leo and his family set up new digs in Cole Harbour on the outskirts of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It did not take long for the community to realize that a gem had moved in among them as Leo leveraged his skills and experience as a leader and his innate ability to connect with people to the private sector, ending up with Sears. Wherever he went, Leo made many friends and positively impacted the lives of many. Notably, Leo’s pool parties were famous for what they revealed as much as for what they did not.
If you were blessed to have known Leo, you will know that he could not sit still, unless it was to read the paper in the morning or to watch hockey or baseball. Although, it was rare that he ever finished watching a game as there were so many flies to catch! Leo loved pottering around in his garden, repairing his white fence, and cleaning his pool. He lived by his own axiom: “take your time but hurry up”. Leo may have been born in Montreal but he became a true son of Nova Scotia. When not keeping busy, he was visiting with old Navy buddies and tossing back a few at the local legion. To celebrate his 95th birthday, Leo’s journey came full circle as, along with many of his friends and Navy buddies, today’s Navy paid tribute to Leo and honoured him for his service to the Royal Canadian Navy and to Canada. At this particular moment, although he never admitted it, we believe the fullness of his life, the breadth of his accomplishments, and the positive impact he had on others arrived front and centre.
Leo had moved to Parkland at the Lakes facility in September 2018 where he could be cared for in his twilight years. We wish to thank the staff at Parkland and Shannex Care at Home for their outstanding support and commitment to Leo’s well-being. Veterans’ Affairs Canada provided outstanding support during Leo’s stay at Parkland – as this sailor crosses the bar, the family will never forget. As Leo’s health deteriorated, he was transferred to Camp Hill Veterans’ Memorial hospital on November 2 where, after ten days, a long and eventful life caught up with the legend that was Leo Francis McTaggart. Our country is in mourning today, because a sailor has passed away.
Burial in Dartmouth Memorial Gardens.
Donations in Leo's memory can be made to The Royal Canadian Legion
Ships served in:
HMCS PROTECTEUR - Served in Protecteur as CPO1, Cox'n