Topham WilliamWilliam Topham, World War II Veteran, passed away peacefully at Extendicare Port Hope with his family around him, aged 94, after a 4 year struggle with Alzheimers.  Beloved husband of Eileen Florence Garrett (d. 2010) whom he married on Christmas Day 1941 because it was the only time they could get off because of the war.

Son of Richard Topham (d. 1978) and Anna Nyrerod (d. 1996) of Togo, Sask. and Calgary, AB.  Brother of Harvey (d. 2000); Hector (Kay) of Surrey, BC; Irene Pearson (Bert) of Red Deer, AB and Victor (d. 1999).  Loving uncle of Lori, Lana, Richard, Dianne, Grant; Louise; Fiona and Heather.

Loving father of Susan Ford White (Lloyd Ford) and Robin (Robert Cliffe); proud grandfather of Joanna, Jay (Christine) and Adam and Sarah (David), Dave (Lindsey), Becky (Elton) and Mark (Shannon).  Great-grandfather of 6.  Fondly remembered by Joe Big George.

Bill was born in Togo, Sask. where his father ran the general store.  He graduated in Civil Engineering from the University of Sask. in 1940, and after graduation worked in material control at an aircraft firm in Ottawa, then at Canadian Industries Ltd. explosives plant in McMasterville, P.Q.

In December 1941, he enlisted in the RCAF as Engineer Officer and completed the CRAF course in Aeronautical Engineering on aircraft and engine maintenance.  He served in Estevan, Sask.; Dafoe, Sask. (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan’s No. 5 Bombing and Gunnery School); Winnipeg MB; and Patricia Bay and Port Hardy on Vancouver Island where he was attached to 122 Squadron.

After the war he rejoined CIL as Project Engineer until joining Standard Brands Ltd.  In 1948 he transferred to their Vile Lasalle, P.Q. plant as plant engineer and in 1950 was transferred to the Calgary plant as Assistant Plant Manager.  In 1958 he came back to Montreal as Assistant Plant Manager at Lasalle and became Plant Manager in 1962.  He was appointed Vice President of Manufacturing for the Fleischmann Company in 1972 and then Vice President of Technical Services with responsibility for product quality and research and development in 1975.

He thoroughly enjoyed his retirement years from 1978 on, researching the lives of Canadian inventors and investigating lighthouses of North America and England; writing articles for the Brighton Independent; travelling to England and Scandinavia to research his roots and write his family’s history; collecting clocks and enjoying time with his grandchildren. He was twice published in the Smithsonian Journal and was appointed a Fellow of the National Associate of Watch and Clock Collectors Inc.  He was a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Ontario and a member of Quinte Timekeepers Chapter 119.

A man of many hobbies, he curled, collected stamps and coins, painted, collected antiques and built clocks.  He enjoyed woodworking and made many fine pieces of furniture for his family.

Always proud of coming from Togo – The Gateway to the West – he also appreciated the qualities of everywhere he lived – the friendliness of Calgary; the vibrancy and cosmopolitanism of Montreal; and the peacefulness and beauty of Brighton, ON.  He was a proud Canadian and loved to travel across the country, and he will be greatly missed by all his family.

Thanks to Dr. Essak and the staff at Penryn House, Port Hope Extendicare, and especially to Orlando Polanco for his kindness and care.

A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday, January 15 at 2 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 200 King Street West, Cobourg. Visitation will be held at the church from 1-2 p.m.  Those wishing may make donations by cheque to the Alzheimer Society (Research) or Extendicare Port Hope.  Condolences received at


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Filed Under: Cobourg, Ontario, Ottawa