Middleton, Leonard (Len) Wilson –It is with heavy hearts we announce the peaceful passing of Leonard Wilson Middleton, at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital, Petrolia on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at the age of 89. Leonard set out on his final voyage with family at his side.
Loving husband of Edna Marie (Shrigley) Middleton, Leonard is pre-deceased by his daughter Penny, and son Harold (Butch). Leonard is survived by his remaining children Linda, Sheree, Brenda, Laurie, Jan, Tami, Crystal and Jewel and stepchildren Maria, Viviane and Maurice. Leonard was the proud grandfather of twenty-nine grandchildren. He thoroughly enjoyed the arrival of each new life that entered the family as it grew to include 45 great-grandchildren and ten great great-grandchildren, with one pre-deceasing him.
Born in Port Elgin Ontario, as the oldest of 16 children, Len first left home at the age of 13 after a disagreement with his father over his refusal to use a tractor or any other mechanized equipment on their 85-acre mixed use farm. Rather than spend another summer doing backbreaking manual labour, Len ran away and found work as a deckhand aboard the Normac, a small car and passenger ferry running from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. Although he returned to school for another year and a half, this summer job started his love of life as a sailor and he shipped out again, on a larger ferry this time, the S.S. Manitoulin, operating between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie.
After a brief period doing farm labour in southern Ontario, Len had his first introduction to the bigger ships when he, in his own words, “made a complete pest of himself”, until he was finally given a job aboard the Imperial Kingston, his first brush with the Imperial Oil fleet. He moved to the new Imperial Sarnia in 1949, before taking the winter off to get married.
When he returned to the decks, it was as a wheelsman aboard the Norgoma, one of many lake-going vessels he was to work on over the next several years with both the Hindman Transportation Company and the Paterson line.
Len signed on with Imperial Oil again in 1964, after a number of years working various jobs ashore. He sailed aboard the Imperial ships Simcoe, London, Collingwood and Cornwall, earning his inland second mate’s licence. He also crewed aboard the Quebec, Acadia and Bedford as third mate, before returning to the Imperial Sarnia. He retired from Imperial Oil, and the crew of the Imperial Sarnia, as second mate in 1985.
The Sailor’s 23rd Psalm
The Lord is my pilot, I shall not go adrift;
He lighteth my passage across dark channels;
He steereth me through the deep waters,
He keepeth my log.
He guideth me by the evening star for my safety's sake.
Yea, though I sail mid the thunders and tempests of life,
I shall fear no peril, for Thou art with me,
Thy stars and heavens, they comfort me.
The vastness of thy sea upholds me.
Surely fair winds and safe harbors shall be found
All the days of my life;
And I shall moor, fast and secure, forever.
Cremation has taken place with the internment of ashes at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) guide dog program, and to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The arrangements have been entrusted to the D. J. Robb Funeral Home & Cremation Centre (102 N. Victoria St, Sarnia, ON, N7T 5W9). Messages and memories of condolence may be sent through www.djrobb.on.ca
The family would like to thank the staff at Continuing Cognitive Care at Bluewater Health, Sarnia; the staff of Fiddick’s Nursing home, Petrolia; Dr. Taylor and particularly the nursing staff with Palliative Care at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital, Petrolia for their exceptional and compassionate care.