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Donald Andrew STEWART
1925 - 2021
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DONALD ANDREW STEWART Born: December 7, 1925 at Penticton, B.C. Died: March 23, 2021. Age: 95. Don Stewart is Canada's answer to the hero of Laura Hillenbrand's story: 'Unbroken.' Don joined the Navy at age 16 and in the spring of 1942, served aboard Merchant ships that brought supplies to Canadian forces in Sicily and Italy in 1943. At Ortona, he learned of the death of two of his brothers. Crossing the Mediterranean, his ship was bombed. When it started to sink, the men scrambled to one of the ship's life rafts. Only Stewart survived the raft's seven days adrift at sea. On day five, the second of his two mates died, and Stewart spent two days alone and stranded before being plucked from the water by a British minesweeper. "My most vivid memory is (of being on) that life raft," he said. "For two days, I was on that raft with two corpses." Don volunteered to sail to the South Pacific where he was captured and spent an agonizing period as a prisoner of war before returning to Canada in late 1945. In one 1944 convoy, an allied ship sank with another man named Donald Stewart on board and Don's parents were notified that their son had died at sea. With no mail delivery, they were unaware of this error. Don's first funeral was held 77 years ago. At the end of the war, he came home unannounced and shocked his parents mightily. When Don returned to Canada, he needed to find a new career and knew how steam engines worked. He signed on and quickly became an engineer. Over the next decade and right up until diesel replaced steam, Don drove many of the great and historic steam engines of the era. On one run, he took VC winner, 'Smokey' Smith, on a ride in his cabin. After moving into the Veteran's wing at Sunnybrook in Toronto, Don took up a variety of duties and became a prominent member of his community. He travelled twice to Italy as part of Official Canadian delegations to celebrate important anniversaries of the Italian Campaign. Don will be interred at the Canadian Veterans cemetery (Beechwood) in Ottawa at a later date. A celebration of his life is available online.

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Published in The Globe and Mail from Apr. 3 to Apr. 7, 2021.
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2 entries
April 4, 2021
I meet Don through Val Flynn at Sunnybrook Veterans Wing. That day I think Don and I broke every rule and He didn't care. We delivered Easter chocolates throughout the Veterans Wing to other veterans and nurses.
Don you will be missed because you touched so many others.
Allan Lacosse
April 3, 2021
I didn't know Don but l would have liked to. What an incredible life.
RIP Don, you earned it.
Robert Hale
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