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Chilliwack veteran has wish granted to see navy vessel ‘one last time’

86-year-old Eric Small and wife Catherine visited the HMCS Edmonton on Remembrance Day
Eric Small (middle) and wife Catherine (left) visited the HMCS Edmonton for a Remembrance Day ceremony Nov. 11 in North Vancouver. (Chartwell Foundation photo)

A Chilliwack veteran had his wish granted when he attended a Remembrance Day ceremony last week aboard the HMCS Edmonton.

Eric Small, 86, wanted to see a navy ship one last time and share the experience with his wife, Catherine.

The Chartwell Foundation made it happen, taking the couple to Burrard Dry Doc in North Vancouver, where HMCS Edmonton was moored.

Small lives in Chilliwack’s Chartwell Hampton House. Launched this fall, the Chartwell Foundation celebrates the extraordinary contributions of seniors by fulfilling as many qualified wishes as possible.

Small joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1951 and served eight years. In 1955 and 1956 he was stationed in the Mediterranean where he was Lord Louis Mountbatten’s cryptographer. At the time, Mountbatten held the title of First Sea Lord, military head of the Royal Navy and Naval Service of the United Kingdom.

Small, who was born in Bournemouth, England and came to Canada as a teenager, still remembers Morse code and the procedures used in naval communications.

“I may be having mobility issues, but my mind is working,” he quipped.

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Small also served in the Suez War.

After leaving the Navy, he worked at the Bournemouth Police Department and eventually owned a farm in Ontario. He also worked at Walkerton Ontario Jail, where he ran a life skills program until he retired in 1996. Small still belongs to several naval associations today and is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion and a past member of Kelowna Navy Vets. He also helped train cadets at South Weymouth Air Station in Massachusetts.

Though Small has slowed down due to mobility issues over the last few months, he is described by Chartwell Hampton House staff as a “very social, personable and engaging resident.”

Lifestyle Program Manager Tracey McDonald said he and Catherine are inseparable.

“It’s lovely to see them finding love again after both lost their spouses,” she said. “They enjoy playing trivia, attending music and exercise classes and dancing.”

The Chartwell Foundation builds on a five-year partnership between Chartwell Retirement Residences and the former charity Wish of a Lifetime Canada, which granted the wishes of Canadian seniors from 2015-20. When Wish of a Lifetime ceased Canadian operations, Chartwell established its own national charity to continue its mission of helping seniors live a life of purpose, connectedness, and engagement through wish granting.

Any Canadian senior can apply to have their wish granted, not only those who live in senior housing or at a Chartwell residence.

For more info, visit


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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