In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
WATSON, Jack Edgar - son of Edgar W. Watson and Kathleen T. Hill, was born in 1932 in East York Township, Ontario. He attended Danforth Tech before joining the Royal Canadian Navy on January 21, 1950 at the age of 17.
An obituary normally details the events of a life well-lived in a very simple and ordinary fashion – but Jack was anything but simple and ordinary. Jack was a consummate storyteller, a man who could recall both great historical events and insignificant stories with the exact same level of detail. This obituary will be written with that in mind, a collection of stories about a man who lived to tell them.
As a child, Jack blew up a tree. In downtown Toronto (formerly East York Township) Jack decided that the large old tree near his ballpark was proving to make homeruns particularly difficult. Rounding up his friends, Jack packed a knot in the tree full of black powder and detonated it on a cool summer night, lighting the tree aflame and causing a full-blown emergency response. In the end, the tree was removed. Job well done, Jack.
Jack was originally posted on the HMCS MAGNIFICENT (‘The Maggie’) when he first joined the Navy. He was trained as a SONAR technician, and he quickly acquired the nickname ‘Pinger Jack’ for his unique ability to hear the soft ‘ping ping’ of the sonar while lying in his hammock. Over his tenure with the navy, the world got to see Jack – he tossed ruffians out of American bars with his brother Bill, explored the shores of Africa and traveled the Suez Canal, spent time with his grandmother on shore leave in England, motorcycled across France and was present for the Coronation Review by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He saw the open ocean with a tot of rum in hand – 71 ml of 54.6% rum given daily between 11 am and noon – a tradition he continued to his last.
Jack met Isabelle Jean (Carter) Watson in late spring 1956 at a ‘Ladies Choice’ dance while posted to Stadacona in Halifax. Jean chose Jack as her dance partner – Jack asked Jean to go for a walk after the dance. They walked down Barrington Street in the cool spring air – their courtship continued through the summer with Jack spending his evenings waiting outside the Dominion store for Jean to finish work. Late in the summer while sitting on Citadel Hill overlooking Halifax, Jack asked Jean to marry him and they were married soon after in September 1956.
Jack and Jean had two children – Steven William Watson born in 1957 and Stacey Jean Watson born in 1959. Although Jack spent a significant amount of time at sea, he always found time to be an excellent father when he returned home. He would take his children swimming in Lake Banook in the evenings, take them fishing on Sundays, go camping on the weekends and spin them around the front yard playing ‘airplane’ for hours. Jack loved games – he would organize the neighbourhood children after the sun set for a game of ‘Dickie Dickie Dike, Show Your Light’ in nearby hayfields off Caledonia Road.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s Jack became a force for progress in the world of amateur gymnastics. He served as an executive member of the Dartmouth Titans Gymnastics Club where his daughter Stacey trained, before being elected as regional representative for the Central Region by the Nova Scotia Gymnastics Association. In 1976, 8 years after his introduction to gymnastics, Jack was elected Vice President of the NSGA. Over his time with the NSGA, Jack pushed for greater recognition of Maritime Athletics on a federal level and was integral in helping to organize an international gymnastics demonstration as a gesture of goodwill with the People’s Republic of China. Upon moving to Ottawa in 1978, Jack became the first Atlantic representative on the board of directors for the Canadian Gymnastics Association.
Jack retired from the Navy in 1981 and the world got to see Jack a second time, this time with his loving wife. They traveled the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean together which allowed them to share the experiences he had in the navy together as a couple.
After retirement, Jack began to discover new hobbies. He became an accomplished home chef alongside his wife, crafting many a family dinner. He was an early adopter of computer technology, programming an accurate simulation of the solar system on MS-DOS in his free time. He kept his mind sharp with computer games – building great empires in Sid Meier’s Civilization, constructing railways across America in Railroad Tycoon and delving the deepest dungeons of the Ultima universe. Jack also became an avid bridge player, spending many Tuesday nights at the bridge club.
Later in life, Jack easily transitioned into the role of a loving grandfather – known as ‘Grampy’ to his grandchildren. Over the years he was a formative influence to his three grandchildren – Ted, Adrianne and Bernadette. He regularly perplexed them with his vocabulary which bordered on the archaic – he called hot dogs ‘tube steaks’ and measuring tapes ‘steel rules’ to name just a few. He was always there to support his grandchildren – taking them as children to swim meets, dance practice, soccer practice and baseball and continuing his duties well into their teens by providing rides to and from work, class and school. Jack also always made time to play – be it playing marbles on the carpet, chess at the table or board games after dinner. He fostered their inquisitive minds – always answering their questions (even if he didn’t exactly know the answer – although he often did). He was a staple around his daughter’s house – helping his son-in-law John with various carpentry, painting and home improvement projects. And in true Jack fashion, he loved to gamble on the mundane – times of arrival, number of dogs, houses with Christmas lights – and somehow had an uncanny ability to often win.
Jack Edgar Watson was a wonderful man, seaman, husband, father and grandfather. He passed away on November 21, 2021 at the age of 89. As per Jack’s wishes, a luncheon and celebration of life will be held from 15:00 to 18:00 on Thursday, November 25, 2021 at 230 Irisweg Drive, Brookside NS. He will be interred at a later date at The Glades United Baptist Church Cemetery in The Glades, NB. In lieu of charity, support your local florist by buying flowers for someone you love.
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