William ThomaS Lanyon
Began as a Radio Operator (RO) in
Worked as a Federal Ships Radio
Inspector during World War II
Worked in the Arctic after the war
and then moved to Radio Regs in Ottawa
Went back to sea as a Radio
Operator after retirement
Obituary - Avis de
William ThomaS Lanyon
1920 - 2014
William Thomas Lanyon passed away peacefully at The Berkeley,
Green Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on February 11, 2014, at the age of 93.
Youngest child of the late William Thomas and Mary (nee Price) Lanyon, of Saint
John, New Brunswick, and brother to George, Harry, Marion, Willa, Mary and
Francis LANYON, William Thomas Lanyon was born on June 3, 1920 in Saint
John, NB. He was the last surviving member of his immediate family.
William was deeply devoted to his wife of over sixty years, the late Marguerite
Hibbitts of Halifax, NS, whom he married in 1948, and together they were loving
parents to three children, Peter Lanyon of Ladysmith, BC, John Lanyon of
Markham, ON and Victoria Lanyon Harwood of Halifax, NS, and kind and caring
grandparents to Gillian and Hilary Lanyon of Toronto, ON, Nicholas Lanyon of
Vancouver, BC, Adam Lanyon of Toronto, ON, and Amanda, Lauren, Alexandra and
Vienna Harwood of Halifax, NS. Over the years, William developed a deep
connection with his son-in-law, Lee Harwood of Halifax, whom he considered a
A modest, quiet and unconventional man, with an unexpected sense of humour and a
rich interior life, William was born an adventurous romantic.
As a boy growing up in the port of Saint John, NB, he
played on the ice flows in the harbour and dreamed of going to sea. Though
afflicted by polio at an early age, he was uncomplaining and undauntedly pursued
his dream by becoming a ship's radio operator, after graduating from Saint John
High School in 1938 and Saint John Radio School in electronics in 1939. One of
the ships he served on as a young man and which mapped the ocean floor off
Newfoundland and the Northumberland Strait, is now a floating Federal museum in
Halifax harbour--The Acadia. You can still see the small room where he worked
and slept while at sea for weeks at a time.
In World War Two, William served as a Federal Ship's
Radio inspector. Never indulging any handicap, he scaled the rope ladders of the
hundreds of Allied convoy ships that assembled in Bedford Basin, to seal their
radios from enemy monitoring while in port.
After the War, he struck out for remote Resolution Island, just South of the
Arctic Circle, to provide direction finding for Arctic shipping over 16 months,
as Station Officer and Radio Operator for the Federal Department of Transport.
He spoke fondly of the silence of the North and kayaking and hunting with the
In 1955, putting the interests of his young family first, William returned from
the North and transferred to Ottawa, where he worked as Technical Officer for
Communications Licensing Policy, and later, gave many years' service as an
Administrative Officer with the Federal Department of Communications.
Upon retirement, he resided with his wife Marguerite in
Oakville, Ontario and in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was not long before he once
again heard the siren call of the sea and took postings as a Radio Operator
aboard both the SS. Soodoc and SS Prindoc of Patterson Steamships Line, and
sailed the coast of the Eastern Seaboard.
Wherever he went, William took his imagination. Born of a musical family - his
father was a talented singer, multi-instrumentalist and conductor of the Saint
John City Band - William was deeply sensitive to music and the arts. And he
housed it in a strong constitution. He was a lifelong believer in the virtues of
physical fitness, disciplined eating, and holistic health. This he came by
honestly. He was a grandchild of George Price, of the celebrated 'The Paris
Crew', who won for Canada her first ever world sporting championship at the
International Exhibition in Paris, in the year of the country's birth, 1867.
Typical of his wry understatement, he released this family fact only in his late
Even after his sailing days were done, the urge for adventure and travel never
left him. With his wife Marguerite, he saw virtually all of the continents of
the globe and was one of the first Canadians to travel to Eastern Europe and
Russia immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall and to take advantage of
US-China Detente and visit the Great Wall of China. Only the Galapagos eluded
In his 90's William enjoyed road trips to the Harwood family cottage in Smith's
Cove, Nova Scotia and to many horse shows to see Alexandra's horses, Robin, Rojo
and Bella. On Christmas Day 2012, he swam in the ocean in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea,
Florida with his family, exhibiting his youthfulness and zest for life!
In his last years, he enjoyed the company of his 'lovely ladies', Jaclyn,
Brittany, Michelle and Alanna, who chauffeured him to appointments, to lunches
at The Athens and The Evangeline Inn in Grand Pre and other locales and who
helped to maintain his independence in his 'bachelor pad'. As they have said,
Bill taught them so much about life in such a short period of time. Everyone
seemed to love him--from the lady at the grocery store, to the maintenance man
fixing his apartment, to the waiters and waitresses in the restaurants he
frequented. To them William always said, no matter what, 'I'm great'. He never
complained, even when it would have benefited him.
Quick with an irreverent remark, he once advised: 'You can't run away from your
problems. But you can put a lot of distance between you and them.'
We will remember that and we will remember you with love and thanks for your
wonderful life, William.
The family would like to express truly heartfelt thanks to Dr. Howard Conter,
Dr. Derek Wilke, Dr. Michael Eddy and the staff of The Berkeley--particularly
Lee Gray-- and sincere gratitude to Tina, Jaclyn, Brittany, Michelle and Alanna
for their care and compassion.
A memorial bench to commemorate William has been erected at Sir Sandford Fleming
Park in Halifax. A celebration of William Thomas Lanyon's life will be held in