John Neil BRUCE J. Neil Bruce of Milton passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Saturday, April 15, 2017 after a courageous and hard-fought battle with Alzheimer's and Cancer. He was 91. Neil was born in Toronto on April 7, 1926. During WWII he forged his birth certificate to enlist early in the Royal Canadian Navy. Though he didn't personally see combat he lost his dear uncle and many close friends. After the war and learning that his uncle's plane had crashed in a marsh in Holland, Neil rode his bike to the docks, boarded a ship and journeyed overseas. Once there he hired a crane to retrieve his uncle's body for a proper burial. Neil returned and saved up to buy a small plane and earn his pilot's license. He then began his career as a pilot for Trans-Canada Air Lines which became Air Canada. In 1963 he led a group to save the HMCS Haida. Neil lobbied defense officials in Ottawa and the Toronto mayor to bring the ship to Toronto and find it a permanent home. Within a year he had negotiated the deal to buy the ship, formed Haida, Inc., became its President and started converting the ship into a floating museum. In 1970 HMCS Haida, which is now a national monument, was turned over to the province of Ontario for one dollar. In retirement Neil took up farming and connected with his Scottish roots by tending to a flock of sheep. In the summer he could be found baling and working the fields with children and grandchildren. Always a joker and affable host, friends could expect a cup of tea and warm welcome at the farm. Neil is preceded in death by his brother Ron, his first wife Joan and his eldest son Haddo. He is survived by his loving wife Rachel and four children Bonnie (Greg) of Mississauga, Dana (Kathy) of Streetsville, Neil (Linda) of San Francisco and Shawn (Lindsay) of Pasadena. He was also grandfather to many adoring grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family would like to thank Luis Valdez, Alberto Tamayo and Jayson Valdez who were Neil's caregivers throughout his illness and the many, many PSWs from Acclaim Health. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer Society of Canada or Duff's Presbyterian Church in Guelph. Visitation will be held on Thursday, April 20th from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at McKersie-Kocher Funeral Home, 114 Main Street East, Milton. A memorial service will be held on Friday the 21st at 11 a.m.
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