On July 28, 2022, Capt. (Ret.) Ernest (Ernie) Arthur Clinker took his last flight, with family at his side. Visitation will be held at Low and Low Funeral Home, 23 Main Street South, Uxbridge, Ontario on Thursday August 4th, 2022, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. His funeral will be held at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa, on Tuesday August 16, 2022, with visitation at 12:00 noon and service at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 170, on behalf of Ernie.
Ernie was predeceased by his parents, his older brother Fred, his adopted grandson Ken, his sister-in-law Mary, his niece Betty and his nephew Bob. He is survived by his wife June Haynes, and his children Margo Clinker (Doug - deceased) and David Clinker (Sue), and their families, and his brother Fred’s remaining children, Ernie, Janice and Loralin and families.
Fred and Annie Clinker had just immigrated to Canada when Ernie was born on March 9, 1926, in Dryden, Ontario. Ernie and Freddie worked alongside their parents, hauling water, cutting wood, and raising chickens, as they faced the harsh years of the Depression. Ernie and his family moved to Hamilton just as WWII started. He left high school with grade 9, learning to lay cement sidewalks on Main Street in Hamilton. Ernie later built Bofor anti-aircraft guns at Otis Fence. Turning 18, he enlisted in the army. His deployment notice came just as the war ended.
Postwar, Veterans Affairs offered Ernie the chance to complete his high school diploma. He then joined the Canadian Officers Training Corp. (COTC) for engineering at RMC/Queen’s in 1947. Like many, he failed first year engineering, losing his COTC funding. Undaunted, Ernie returned to Hamilton, working in tobacco fields to pay for first year at McMaster in chemistry. This time he passed, re-entering COTC for his subsequent years. He was head cheerleader at MAC. Ernie was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, graduating in 1952.
He married Marie Finch, also a veteran (Navy WREN), on February 2, 1951. Ernie, now a Lieutenant, was transferred to the Workshop and Transport Platoon of 9 Tpt. Coy, Ottawa. New adventures came as Ernie was accepted into the Canadian Army Aviation program for pilot training at Rivers, Manitoba in April 1953. He received his flying badge October 28,1953, qualifying to fly light planes. In 1955, Ernie qualified on piloting Bell and Sikorsky helicopters.
Daughter Margo was born in September 1955. Ernie always teased Margo that she had interrupted his flying career. Having a new baby made him nervous about flying and he started to look for new opportunities.
In July 1957, Ernie was selected to go to Nevada to study nuclear weaponry. He observed nuclear bomb detonation and participated in review of impact on weapons. Ernie told stories of eating his lunch, on a rock, under the nuclear fallout.
In November 1957, Ernie was transferred to Soest Germany (Fort Chambly). He was with the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group. Ernie, Marie and Margo enjoyed traveling to England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. This introduction to international foods would lead to Ernie’s lifelong passion for adventurous dining.
Christmas 1959, Ernie transferred back to Canada, becoming Resident Staff Officer at McMaster University and University of Guelph. Son David was born in December 1960. During 1960-1963, Marie faced cancer. Ernie was away, months at a time, on staff at cadet training. The immense support of Ernie’s mom, Annie, helped navigate the young family to better times.
In the summer of 1963, with Marie healthy again, Ernie was transferred to Ottawa (D Manning).
In mid-1964, Ernie was seconded to The Ministry of External Affairs for a year in Viet Nam with the International Commission of Control & Surveillance (ICC). Marie and the children remained in Ottawa, grateful for the support of fellow army families. Based out of Saigon, Ernie travelled
both South and North Viet Nam as an observer. He would fly from Saigon to the North. The trip south was more challenging with Ernie traveling by train with Viet Cong soldiers patrolling. Ernie saw things which profoundly affected him, burdening him.
NOTE: Following a trip into North Viet Nam in 1965, Ernie became very ill and was sent home. At that time, the traumas of the Viet Nam conflict were poorly understood. Ernie faced multiple misdiagnoses including schizophrenia. After the American Psychiatric Association finally identified Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1980, Ernie was re-diagnosed with PTSD. Ernie wanted his story told so that today’s returning armed forces personnel could have hope that life can get better after PTSD. Ernie participated in many projects to help build awareness.
In the Fall of 1965, Ernie was transferred to Downsview, Ont. serving as a Transport Officer with 2 Tpt. Coy RCASC. Ill health would overtake Ernie. He took leave, retiring on medical release in May 1968.
In late 1967, Ernie took his first civilian job, in transportation, with the City of Peterborough Board of Education. In the fall of 1970, with Margo in high school and David in grade 5, Ernie returned to school himself (Peterborough Teachers College). He took a teaching position at Uxbridge Public School from his graduation until his retirement in 1986. In the1970’s, Ernie would resurrect his cement laying skills as he and son David laid the cement driveway, patio and walkway at their Uxbridge home - that driveway is still in place today!
Ernie shared retirement with second wife, June Haynes. They traveled for pleasure and for Ernie’s love of genealogy. Bridge became one of Ernie’s passions. June has been a devoted and patient partner, at the Bridge table, as well as in life. David and his wife Sue made admirable Bridge mates. Margo, much to Ernie’s chagrin, is completely useless at Bridge but would, at least, bring the Bridge Mix.
Ernie enjoyed watching David’s daughter, Susannah, figure skate. From a young age, Susannah shared Grandpa Ernie’s passion for oysters. Ernie was thrilled that Susannah has been accepted into further studies University of Toronto in September 2022.
Ernie would always greet Margo’s sons, Jason and Ken, with Grandpa’s To-Do list. Adopted at age 13, the boys were much taller than the Clinkers, easily doing “tall” tasks such as tightening screws on the garage door. When Ken died in 1997, Ernie rescued Jason from the Air Canada
Red Eye and drove him home for Ken's funeral. Through Jason, Ernie has great-grandchildren (Jory, Kenni, Shine, Elycia ) and great-great grandchildren (Adalynn, Rai, Bentley).
Ernie was an unabashed, adventurous foodie. He was also totally addicted to Downton Abbey.
He had, courageously, been battling Metastatic Prostate Cancer for almost ten years and Multiple Myeloma for the last 18 months. Ernie leaned heavily on Sue’s nursing skills to understand and make decisions about his care. Ernie’s sense of humour, and fascination with science, meant that no test was too horrible and no treatment too challenging. He did, however, expect to be rewarded - a fine meal or treat to make the medicine go down more easily… a little sushi, a lobster, raw oysters or Purdy’s dark chocolate covered ginger. With many supports, Ernie was able to remain in his home until June 20, 2022. As he had planned, Ernie then moved to the Euchre Club and Honey Crueller Mondays at Veterans Care at Parkwood Institute in London. He was at the Acute Care for the Elderly Unit, Victoria Hospital, London when he gently, and with dignity, took off on his last flight.
Caring for Ernie could only be accomplished through the support of “a village”. Ernie’s family is so thankful for the kindness offered by so many. Listing just a few:
The amazing PSWs from Nurse Next Door - Clarington
Parkwood Veterans Care, London, Essex 3
The Acute Care for the Elderly Unit, Victoria Hospital, London
Dr. Cal Doobay and staff
Dr. Kumar and team, Oncology Markham Stouffville Hospital
Dr. Amanda Li and team, Oncology Markham Stouffville Hospital
Palliative Nurse Shannon, Paramed (LHIN)
OT Tally at Community Rehab Advantage (LHIN)
Veterans Affairs Canada - OT Linda, Nursing and the VIP team
The Uxbridge Legion
Jayne Taylor, Friend and lottery ticket guru
Bill Graham, Friend and home maintenance guru
Marilyn Monroe, Friend and home maintenance guru
Homestead HealthCare, Total Access Solutions and the team at Lawnscapes
Uxbridge Hearing Clinic; Dr. Ron McMullen, Optometrist; Uxbridge Family Dentistry
Laura Watpool, RN, Footcare
Meals on Wheels through Community Care Durham
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 170, Uxbridge
109 Franklin Street, Po Box 137, Uxbridge ON L9P1M6