“Give yourself permission to try new things!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
My wife and I attended the Celebration of Life for the father of one of our good friends at our ski chalet, Cedric Gyles.
Although we only briefly met the man once, we knew that the relationship that our good friend John had with his dad was special and that this was a significant loss; we thought it important that we show John and his wife Jane our respect by attending.
We ended up with so much more than we expected, learning more about a man who did justice to the phrase ‘a life well lived.’
My good friend Scott Kress, who we also ski with, commented: “When you read his obituary, you start to think that you haven’t done much with your life.” This is from a fellow who has summited Everest, mastered the Seven Peaks (the highest summit on each continent), has cross-country skied the South Polle twice (and is about to embark on another similar trek this December.)
I’ve shared the obituary below. The phrase that came to my mind as I read it was that it was indeed a full and adventurous life – and the phrase that came to my mind as I listened to the tribute from family and friends – was that Ced, as he was known, regularly gave himself permission to try new things. Skiing, rugby, football, sailing – and so much more. This included several high-profile wins and finishes in sailing and a few Grey Cup football championships. (That’s the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl!) The poster board at the Celebration tells his story – as does the tribute below.
Yesterday was a celebration of life indeed, and we would all do well to take a measure of the man, and the lesson that comes from giving yourself permission to try new things.
Cedric G.E. Gyles
December 23, 1926 to September 24, 2023
We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Cedric George Edward Gyles at his home in The Blue Mountains, Ontario, on Sunday September 24, 2023 at the age of 96.
Cedric (Ced) was born and raised in Vancouver. He attended Prince of Wales high school and graduated in 1945. Ced then joined Price Waterhouse in 1946 for four years as an articling chartered accountant. During this time, he met the love of his life, Barbara Martin.
Ced took a leave of absence from Price Waterhouse to play professional football for the Calgary Stampeders’ 1948 season earning an annual salary of $500.
In 1949, Ced and Barb were secretly married in Vancouver at a civil ceremony with Ced’s sister, Jacquie, and his good friend Bob Annable as their witnesses. Neither Barb or Ced could recall the reason for the secrecy, but they suspected parental disapproval for a married couple making less than $180 a month was the reason.
A year later, Ced changed jobs and was working for a Calgary based investment firm, Clifton C. Cross & Company. By 1951, Ced and Barb had moved to Calgary, living in a rented basement room. It was at this time they welcomed their first child Cedric. The following year, they purchased their first home and second child Pat was welcomed into the family. Unfortunately, in 1953 markets changed due to an international investment downturn and Ced lost his job. The family returned to Vancouver and lived with Ced’s parents. While there, they welcomed their third child Marti to the family. With the growing family, Ced took a job pumping gas to make ends meet.
It was at this time Ced received a job offer from his friend and mentor Jack Moon, who brought him into the insurance brokerage business. Ced returned to Calgary joining R.M. Abernethy in 1954. The company eventually merged with Reed Shaw McNaught, becoming Reed Shaw Osler and ultimately Reed Stenhouse. Proving his worth, in 1956 Ced was sent to Edmonton to organize the office there. While in Edmonton, their fourth child Ed joined the family. Having established the Edmonton office, Ced was transferred back to Calgary. However, the Edmonton office did not flourish, so after a short while Ced was sent back to Edmonton to save the day! In order to accommodate the ever-growing family, Ced and Barb moved outside Edmonton to a farmhouse near Adrossan where their fifth child John was born. There were many memorable adventures out on the farm that usually included the horse, Beauty, and the dog, Mitzi.
In 1961 a new chapter began. Ced was transferred all the way “east” to Winnipeg. It was here their sixth child Peter arrived to the delight of his sisters who loved to care for their new “live doll”. Ced and Barb embraced the new town, immersing themselves in many community activities. They quickly made friends, including another family with the unlikely name of Gyles, who had many children of similar ages.
Never one to miss an opportunity to learn something new, Ced took up golf and became a member of the St. Charles Country Club. Ced and Barb also took up curling with friends, joining the Granite Curling Club. They were members of the Winnipeg Gyro Club, part of Gyro International, a social club whose members participated in formal dinners, dances and themed conventions held across Canada. In preparation for one convention, they learned the Red River Jig in order to showcase Winnipeg. Ever the competitor, practices were needed so local Metis dancers and musicians were invited to Ced and Barb’s home to teach the group. The living room carpet was rolled back and the dancing commenced! Ced was President of the Gyro Club from 1967-68.
Ced and Barb loved to entertain at home. They hosted an annual Boxing Day party that included a hockey game at the local rink and a football game in the snow with plenty of food and drink, lasting till late into the evening. Being Blue Bomber season ticket holders with friends, afternoon game days always began at their home with a brunch being served.
In 1971, Ced was offered a new promotion, the Senior Vice President of the Company, which meant another move further east all the way to Toronto. Barb finally put her foot down and said if they moved, there were to be no more children!
Upon their arrival in Hogtown, with the six children in tow, Ced had a rude awaking. He made an illegal turn to arrive at their new home and was immediately slapped with a traffic ticket. Hello Toronto! This move then led to the Chief Executive Position in 1974 which he held until his retirement in 1988. He remained as Non-Executive Chairman and Director of the Canadian Company until he was 70, when he retired to The Blue Mountains.
Cedric was a lifelong avid sailor. He was the third generation of Gyles to become a member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Ced joined as a junior member in 1943 and maintained his membership until his passing. His sailing experience was gained in Snipes, Stars, 6 Metres, R Boats, and 8 Metres. After moving to Toronto in 1971, Cedric joined the Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC).
Cedric was part of the revival of the Eight Metre Class on Lake Ontario with the purchase and restoration of Norseman in 1973. Having been built at the RCYC shipyard, Norseman was home! Cedric skippered his beloved Norseman in many Club and international races, most to victory including the Kimber Trophy for the North Americans, and the Norm Walsh Trophy for the overall 8 Metre season championship in the Classic division. Norseman has participated in every World Cup on Lake Ontario and in 1999 won the 8 Metre World Cup Sira Trophy in Rochester. In 2004, representing Canada and the RCYC, Cedric shipped Norseman from Toronto to Geneva, Switzerland in order to participate in the International 8 Metre World Cup Regatta and to promote the next World Cup Regatta to be held the following year at the RCYC.
Ced was involved in a number of RCYC standing and special project committees, with specific service in the capacity as Member at Large (1977-78), Vice Commodore House (1979-81) and Commodore (1985-86). He was also the recipient of the AEmillius Jarvis Bowl (1993), Patricia Trophy (1994) and several Fleet Captains Awards. He was one of the founding members of the Lake Ontario 8 Metre Class Association and received an Honorary Life Membership of the International Eight Metre Association (IEMA).
Ced was also an integral member of the RCYC Canada’s Cup Committee for the better part of twenty years, including the Canada’s Cup Committee Chair from 1993-2001, which realized the successful challenge in 2001. In 1983 Cedric headed up the operations committee for the group of “One Hundred Corinthians for Canada I” which saw Canada’s entry in the America’s Cup for the first time since 1881, which achieved a credible semi-finals finish.
His other passion was football. As a player, Cedric was a member of the Vancouver Junior Blue Bombers, who won the 1947 Dominion Championship after a 13-0 undefeated season. The Canadian championship was a two-game, total-point series, played under two different types of rules. The Vancouver Blue Bombers played against the Hamilton Tigercats and won the game opener 13-5 and the second game 6-3. Cedric was named MVP, scoring touchdowns in both games. In 2011, the 1947 Vancouver Junior Blue Bombers Football 1st Canadian Champions were inducted into the BC Football Hall of Fame.
Ced also enjoyed playing Rugby in various B.C. leagues during the years 1945-1948 as a ¾ back. He played at wing ¾ against Australian Wallabies in 1948. Following his football career, he played for the Edmonton Rugby Club until 1958.
Cedric was a Calgary Stampeder player for the years 1948, 1950 and 1951 and was the last surviving member on the 1948 Calgary Stampeder Grey Cup team. In 1948 the team had a 14-0 undefeated season and it was the first Grey Cup win for the Stampeder Football Club. That was the year the Grey Cup festivities included trainloads of fans, pancake breakfasts and riding horses into the lobby of the Royal York Hotel thus, laying the ground for the Grey Cup celebrations that occur today! In 2000, the 1948 Calgary Stampeders’ team was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1962, Ced joined the Blue Bomber Football Club Board of Directors and was appointed to the Executive as Secretary in January 1963. Cedric served as President of the Winnipeg Football Club in 1968-1969 and brought to the position an extensive background as a player and an executive. In September 1989 Cedric was inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in the “Builder” category. He was instrumental in establishing a new organizational structure, dealt with the Club’s debt of $150K, introduced various fundraising programs, increased stadium capacity by 3,000 and hired GM Earl Lunsford to establish a hard-driving, stable football team on the field.
Ced was a member of the Griffith Island Shooting Club for over thirty years, serving in the capacity of Director. He was introduced to small game hunting while in Winnipeg and was involved in many outings in Manitoba and Saskatchewan bringing home grouse, ducks and geese for his children to clean and his wife to cook. Luckily his outings at Griffith Island with many friends and business acquaintances meant the job of dressing the birds was no longer a family affair! His international hunting trips took him to the USA and Europe.
Ced was a skiing enthusiast. His love of skiing began as a young adult while living in Vancouver. As lifts had not yet been introduced, Ced and his friends would trudge up Hollyburn Mountain to a small ski chalet they called the “Goon Hut”. His adventures also included two helicopter trips to B.C. skiing in the Cariboo Mountains. His love for the sport was passed on to his children and grandchildren. During their time in Winnipeg, the family was often loaded into the estate wagon and taken to Mt. Agassiz ski hill. On one multi-stop road trip out west, Ced and Barb with their six kids and an extra friend made the trip to Banff with all required equipment. On two separate occasions, both the young boys, ages 5 and 7, hurt themselves and spent the rest of the trip in full leg casts creating chaos for seating arrangements in the car. Despite the chaos, the trip carried on making a few stops in B.C., Washington and Montana ski resorts and returning on the last leg heading home through North Dakota. A blizzard, closing the roads, stranded the family in Morris, Manitoba. It was a stroke of luck for us, as an elderly widowed woman had volunteered her home for trapped motorists. However, she was not expecting this large group of 9 to show up on her doorstop! And again, more chaos!
Ced and Barb, while residing in Toronto, would rent various seasonal ski chalets with friends at Blue Mountain Resort and joined the Toronto Ski Club. In 1979 Ced and Barb purchased their own chalet at the base of Blue Mountain and were totally spoiled with a ski lift literally in their front yard! Ced loved having his family and friends join him at the chalet to ski and visit. For 40 years they hosted the annual 8 Metre ski weekend lunch and race. New Year’s Eve parties took on a whole new meaning at the chalet! You did not just attend the party; you were challenged to make your own festive hat, a tradition started by son Peter and his friend. You then joined the parade to be judged on your creativity! Everyone vied for 1st prize. After his retirement to The Blue Mountains, Ced became a member of the Probus Club. He enjoyed the camaraderie and social interaction, making new friends and connecting with former Torontonians who also made the move North.
Ced and Barb travelled throughout the world for sailing events, for both business and pleasure. Sailing took them to Australia and New Zealand for an America’s Cup. Personal holidays included a bike and wine tour cycling through France, bareboat charters to the Caribbean, Grenada and several North American destinations. Business often took Ced across Canada from coast to coast and to many US and European destinations.
Ced was a man of his time. His sense of humor (sometimes unfitting for today’s times), his ease at embellishing common stories to make them memorable and fun, his generosity to all and his loyal friendships will never be forgotten. He often was the “life of the party” which suited him just fine!
Ced had an amazing life full of adventure, accomplishments and fun. However, we all know, “behind every great man there’s a great woman”. Barbara was the love of his life, making it possible for him to achieve all that he did. He is now at peace and they are together again!
Most important to Ced was his love of family. His favourite and best moments were being surrounded by his children and grandchildren. We were proud of him and he was so proud of us and we would not be who we are today without him. We love him, miss him and he will be forever in our hearts.
Cedric is survived by his children, Cedric (Sue-Anne) Gyles of Toronto, Patricia (Brent) Miller of Winnipeg, Marti (Mike) Williams of Collingwood, Edward (Gloria Andrews) Gyles of Thornbury, John (Jane) Gyles of The Blue Mountains, Peter (Dominic Brugnano) Gyles of Toronto; his grandchildren William (Gillian), Sarah, Steven (Jett), granddaughter-in-law Katie, Thomas (Brenna), Lisa, Brice, Jason (Kelly), Richelle (Darrell), Jessica (Cam), Brier and Kailey; great-grandchildren Kylee (Devon), Matt, Jarek, Kenna, Asher, Riker, Jake, Molly, Mackenzie, Ryerson and Rome; sisters-in-law Anne and Doreen Martin; as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Ced was predeceased by his beloved wife of 60 years, Barbara, who passed away in December 2009; his parents Vera and Cedric H Gyles; his sister Jacqueline McDormand; and his grandson Alexander Miller.
The family wishes to extend our appreciation to the many caregivers who provided Cedric with such kind and compassionate care to enrich his last years at home.
A celebration of Cedric’s life will be held at the Toronto Ski Club located at 796456 Grey Road 19, The Blue Mountains, Ontario between 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 22, 2023. A second Celebration of Life will be held at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto next spring at a date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Cedric to a charity important to you would be appreciated by the family. Alternatively, for those who wish, donations could be made to the Warrior Sailing program. True Patriot Love is the organization that funds this program and the Invictus Games in Canada. Donations made in honour of Cedric will be directed to Warrior Sailing. Here is the link to make donations for the Warrior Sailing: truepatriotlove.com/tribute.”