Obituary of Francis Arnold MacLachlan
On Sunday, April 18th, 2021, Francis Arnold "Skipper" MacLachlan, loving husband, father, and grandfather, set sail and disappeared over the horizon one last time at the generous age of 95. He lived a long, healthy, and prosperous life. He insisted that his passing should not be regarded as a tragedy.
Francis was born on January 5th, 1926 in Kingston, Ontario, to Grant and Sara (née Snell) MacLachlan, the second of three children. Entranced by sailing ships and all things naval, Francis joined the Canadian Navy in late 1945 and thus was too late for battle (to his disappointment). Still, with the Navy he steamed across the Atlantic to do cleanup in England. Returning to Canada in 1946 (aboard the RMS Aquitania) he completed a Mechanical Engineering Degree at Queen's University (1949) and then returned to England, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and earned a Degree in Naval Architecture (1951). With a Newcastle colleague and friend, he founded a boat-building firm (while working as a draftsman in the Newcastle shipyards) and designed and built a series of highly competitive racing sailboats. Returning to Canada he took a teaching job at Queen's University and continued with boat building. In 1953 the first of three square-rigged sail-training ships designed by Francis, The St. Lawrence II, was launched in Kingston. The St. Lawrence II originally worked in the service of the Sea Cadets but by the early 1960’s had moved on to serve a wider community of youth in the Kingston area. Two sister ships Pathfinder (1963) and Playfair (1973) were commissioned by a new Toronto based organization, Toronto Brigantine, to expand youth leadership training out of that end of Lake Ontario. These ships, two still in operation today, have over 150 combined years of operation and have enriched the lives of thousands of people--many of whom acknowledge Francis as an important mentor and inspiration.
In 1962, still youthful and heavily involved in ship building and sail training, Francis met a beautiful young English woman Rosemary Campling, and they married in 1964. Their four children Katharine, Keith, Christine, and Jennifer were born between 1966 and 1973. In his long and healthy life Francis was blessed to see and get to know 6 wonderful grandchildren, Teagan, Ewan, Callum, Cecilia, Frances, and Elizabeth.
Though colour blind he was an immaculate draftsman. He was also a lover of classical symphonic music, gravitating in his later years almost exclusively towards Ludwig Von Beethoven. Even in his final days his mind was sharp enough to remember his love of sailing, Beethoven and above all, his devoted and graceful wife of 57 years, "Rosy". While not a gifted singer he was still heard by those around him to sing "Good Morning to You" to Rosy each morning (and some evenings) up to his very last days.
In addition to his contributions to sail-training and youth leadership, Francis served for many years with passion and dedication as a Professor of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University. He was also a lifelong member at Chalmers United Church where he led the music committee and was an elder. He was an amateur photographer, avid skier, and enthusiastic hockey player and even coached his son’s minor hockey team for a couple of years.
Francis was predeceased by his parents, and older brother and great friend Alexander "Sandy" MacLachlan. He is survived by his younger sister Katharine, his wife, children and grandchildren, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
The MacLachlan family are extremely grateful to Kingsbridge Retirement Community, Providence Care Hospital, Kingston General Hospital, Limestone City Home Health Care and many friends and family, in particular, Christine MacLachlan, Joan Simeon, Jane McEwan, Maurice Smith and Andy Soper, who have provided love and extra support to Rosemary and Francis over the past months. Many others (too many to name) are in our hearts and minds for their kind contributions and great friendships over Francis’ life. A small private funeral service (attendance limit due to COVID-19) will be held at James Reid Funeral Home on Friday April 23rd, 1:00pm ET. The service will be live streamed PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK. Donations in Francis’ name can be made to Tall Ship Expeditions Canada at https://www.tallshipexpeditions.com/donate.