Saturday January 8, 2011
ROBERT THOMAS PETER MERCHANT A prominent Halifax businessman and entrepreneur, died of natural causes Wednesday, December 29th, at Veterans Memorial Hospital. He was 93. Born in 1917, he was one of the last survivors of the Halifax Explosion. He attended the Halifax Academy, Dalhousie University and the University of Western Ontario. In 1936 he went to work for Imperial Oil Limited before the outbreak of World War II. He served during the war for the 664 Air Observation Post (RCAF) RCA, flying spotter aircraft for artillery units as Captain and Lieutenant Colonel. He returned to Halifax in 1946 and rejoined Imperial Oil until being offered a position with Oland and Son (now Labatt Brewing Company) and was credited with much of their success over his 35 years with the company. He retired as Vice President of Corporate Affairs in 1985. He owned and operated two other companies with his life long friend J. Phillip Dumaresq. Together they built and developed multi residential apartments and commercial properties in Nova Scotia. In 1976 he started another company, Your Wine Merchant, and successfully imported and sold wine through the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. In the past he served as Provincial Chair of fund raising for St. John's Ambulance, director of the HalifaxDartmouth United Appeal, a member of the Finance committee of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, and was a board member of the Nova Scotia Association of Community Living. He was president of the Wentworth Valley Ski Club and a charter member of the Halifax Junior Board of Trade. He was one of the founding families of the Halifax Grammar School where all five of his children attended. He was a long time member of Ashburn Golf Club and played many a fine game of golf there with his friends. He was a passionate sailor for all his life and at the time of his death was the most senior life member of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. He was a member of the Halifax Curling Club and an avid salmon fisherman. For the past 27 years he enjoyed being with his partner and companion, Barbara MacKenzie, spending time in Florida, travelling, golfing, sailing and the occasional ski trip. Bob was known by a wide and varied group of friends and acquaintances as a true gentleman. His engaging smile, impeccable manners and outgoing nature endeared him to many, and he had an infectious love of life. A long time friend recently described him as a 'bon vivant'. He was 86 when he last went down the slopes at Wentworth and 90 when he went for his last sail on the North West Arm. He was the son of Frank and Eva (Butterworth) Merchant. He was predeceased by his wife Margaret Louise (Pugsley) Merchant and his two brothers, Evatt, (Adrian Merchant Macdonald and Evatt Francis Anthony Merchant), and Eric. His two stepsons, Brian and Ronald Mann, his sons Peter and Robert Merchant and daughter Ann Power survive him, as well as 14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. The family wishes to thank the staff of the Veterans Memorial Building for their excellent care and compassion in the short time he was with them. A Funeral mass celebrating his life was held on Tuesday, Jan 4th, 2011 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Halifax. A reception followed. Memorial donations may be made to the United Way of Halifax.