Peter Chance Obituary

Honorary Probus Member
November 24, 1920 - April 9, 2024

CHANCE, Peter Godwin CD Cdr RCN (Ret'd)
24 November 1920 - 9 April 2024

It is with great fondness that we remember and say "so long" to a loving husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, great grandfather and good friend in Peter Chance, who passed away peacefully at the Royal Jubilee Hospital on 9 April 2024.

Peter is survived by his children: Simon (Stella), Penelope, Tim (Brenda), Stephanie (Lynn) from his first wife, Peggy, followed by Helen, who brought in a delightful second family. Four stepdaughters: Shelly (Bob), Sher (Dale), Ingrid (Dennis) and Darlene. As well as his many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Peter was predeceased by both his wives and his brother David. John, who at a hundred years old, is the only surviving sibling.

Born and raised by his parents, Leslie and Gladys, in Ottawa; he attended Lisgar Collegiate High School and in 1938 at age 18 became the Junior Figure Skating Champion of Canada. That same year Peter joined the Ottawa Division of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) as a Midshipman. When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, he joined his first ship HMCS St. Laurent. In August of 1940, he was transferred into the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Permanent Force as a 'Special Entry Cadet' and sent to the UK for further training at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth graduating in the regained rank of Midshipman. A thirty-year career followed as a specialist navigator, eventually rising to the rank of Commander, through wartime service in various classes of ships, from cruisers and battleships to destroyers and frigates of the Royal Navy (RN) and RCN during the Battle of the Atlantic, the Dunkirk evacuation, the 6th June 1944 D-Day landings and surviving the loss of his ship HMCS Skeena-wrecked in a storm on the coast of Iceland. After the war, Peter continued to serve in the RCN in HMCS Cayuga supporting United Nations amphibious and coastal operations during the Korean War. His postwar naval career included service at sea in various ships of the RCN, including a carrier, cruiser, frigates, and destroyers - having had command of two of the latter types. He also served in senior positions ashore in Canada and overseas in peacetime postings with our NATO allies.

Upon his retirement from the RCN, he subsequently accepted the prestigious position of administrator at Osgoode Hall - York University's Law School in Toronto, Ontario. In this role, he had occasion to meet several members of the Royal Family - including Queen Elizabeth II. As an aside, this began a long association with the Royal Family that included interactions with Prince Philip and more recently Prince Edward. During his recent hospitalization Peter had received an invitation to meet with Princess Anne during a visit to Victoria. Unfortunately, though Peter was touched by the invitation, fate intervened.

Peter then moved the family west and spent 18 years as the BC/Yukon Representative for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Program maintaining his contact with the program thereafter. His legacy includes his vigorous support of the ALS Society, as a long time volunteer with the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, a long serving member of the Naval Association of Canada (NAC), Royal Canadian Legion as an Honorary Branch President, Royal United Services Institute - Vancouver Island (RUSI-VI) as an Honorary Member, Sidney Ratepayers Association, Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVETS) in Sidney, BC, the Nautical Institute and founding president of the Maritime Awards Society of Canada. In his engagements with all these associations, he consistently strived to make a significant contribution, be a positive influence in the lives of others and assist those who were not as privileged as himself.

Peter had a passion for the written word and published his autobiography, A Sailor's Life, that he happily widely distributed gratis. He also loved historical studies and was a valued supporter of the University of Victoria / RUSI VI Military Oral History Project and the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum - where the Battle of the Atlantic gallery is named in his honour. Amongst his many decorations and awards is the French Legion of Honour presented to him in recognition of his service in the Allied cause during the D-Day landings signalling the liberation of France during WWII. He was very proud of this award appointing him as a Knight of the Legion.

Peter was a "Giver" whose oft repeated motto was: "You can achieve more with honey than vinegar!" Another motto of his was: "for goodness' sake just be kind!" A consummate people person, he was always extremely interested in the lives and experiences of others. In this respect, his gregarious and charismatic personality was a great asset. Up for anything and, with great professional assistance and generosity from the Victoria Flying Club, he recently took the controls of a Cessna Aircraft in flight at 102 years of age. This was a treasured experience for him that he often referred to. Prominent coverage in the media at this feat certainly added to his celebrity and satisfied the theatrical in his soul.

Peter will be remembered as a proud, patriotic, and highly decorated Canadian, who was always generous with his time and his stories. Consistently upbeat, he was an avid reader, loved to learn, sail, play/listen to music, attend live theatre, travel, be with his many "good" friends, to attend Holy Trinity Church and, above all, to socialize. He was consistently upbeat and oozed optimism which is probably the reason he lived until 103.5 years of age.

Peter stated many times that "I have had a good run". He was blessed with good health and enjoyed the entirety of his over a century of life to the fullest. He enjoyed his final years with the whole-hearted support and love of his stepdaughters Shelly and Sher and had many memorable times in the company of his extensive circle of friends. His last days were happy, busy ones socializing with and entertaining his fellow 'inmates' and the entire staff of the Peninsula Retirement Home, that he referred to with his characteristic sense of humour as the 'barracks' -'where the grub was good, the staff delightful and the inmates friendly'.

Fair Winds and Following Seas on your next voyage
dear family member, old friend and shipmate!

A memorial service will be held at the Christ Church Cathedral beginning at 1:30 p.m. (seated by 1:15) on Wednesday 5 June 2024 followed by a reception at the Pro Patria Legion between 3 - 5 p.m. Please RSVP for reception attendance NLT 31 May to: In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the ALS society of Canada.

Published by Victoria Times Colonist from May 4 to May 6, 2024.