Ernest Edward (Ted) Biss passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 22, taking flight to reunite with his love just two weeks before his 98th birthday. An entrepreneur, poet, author, and WWII veteran, Ted gave so much and asked for so little. He leaves behind a legacy of quick wit, hard work, limitless creativity, and unconditional love. Though his body deteriorated in his final years, Ted’s mind and memory remained sharp as ever – cracking jokes, reciting Shakespearean sonnets, and sharing adventures from his full and vibrant life.
Born in Kingston to Edith (née Stephens) and Fred Biss, Ted grew up in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood with his six siblings. To contribute to the family income during the Great Depression, Ted began his first job at age 12 at the local grocery store, working weekday evenings after school and Saturdays from 8 AM to midnight. Later, with a diploma in Industrial Chemistry, Ted worked for Pringle and Booth, a modern studio that produced photography for the Eaton’s catalogue. His manager there had his commercial pilot’s licence, and Ted joined him in the skies to take and sell aerial photographs, initiating a lifelong love of travel.
Enticed by a sense of adventure, Ted enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. With his experience in aerial photography, he trained to be a navigator and was attached to Ferry Command, which delivered aircraft across the North Atlantic. In addition to mathematics, flight theory, and meteorology, he received advanced training focused on astral navigation: radar was never available for the long flights of Ferry Command, so navigators relied on calculations, a slide rule, and the planets, moon, sun, stars, and wind to reach their destinations safely.
Attaining the rank of Flight Lieutenant, Ted’s RCAF service took him to Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. He accumulated local banknotes to create a “Short Snorter” record of his successful trips overseas. Airmen would challenge one another to produce their short snorter bills, and failure to do so required buying the next round of drinks. Ted’s impressive short snorter collection later captivated his family.
Ted was devoted to his beloved wife Betty (née McConvey), and they were married for over 70 years. Writing of the night they met, he said, “I looked up and out of the doorway walked the rest of my life.” Together they raised five children: Stephen (Karen), Wendy (Ron), Carol, James (Sheila), and Cathy (Steve). Ted drafted and built additions for the growing family at their home in Mississauga and a summer home on Lake Simcoe. He spent hours in the water teaching his kids to dive, and carefully coached them to become award-winning public speakers. He found joy in being Papa to grandchildren Lisa, Jennifer, Renée, Geoffery, Michèle, Kelsey, Danielle, Connor, and Olivia, and to great-grandchildren Audrey, Scarlett, Felix, Wallace, and Baxter.
Observing the growing popularity of mobile homes in the 1950s, Ted was one of the Canadian pioneers of the RV industry. He named the iconic Canadian-made Golden Falcon travel trailer and his business, All Trailers, specialized in parts and service and became the largest of its kind in the country. He would unwind at the end of each workday by swimming laps around the “cement pond” at home on Vanessa Crescent, followed by happy hour with his beloved.
Upon retirement, Ted kept active by pursuing a passion for gemology at All Gems, travelling the world with his sweetheart, building intricate WWII airplane models, and serving his community as President of the Clarkson BIA and on Parish Council of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Port Credit. He and Betty hosted themed celebrations for their friends, and his crafted scripts for murder mystery parties were the stuff of legend. Ted also wrote two novels, a memoir detailing his adventures with Ferry Command, and ten collections of poetry grounded in love for his Bette.
Ted was a man of deep faith. He was able to live his final years comfortably, safely, and independently thanks to the care and compassion of his “Angels,” Gloria, Rina, and Maria. Their dedication to Ted’s wellbeing is so deeply appreciated by the whole family.
Ted is predeceased by his parents; siblings Frank, Steve, Jack, Grace, and Olive; and wife Betty. He is survived by his brother George and sisters-in-law Della Biss and Daryl McConvey. Also remembering him are many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your favourite charity in Ted’s memory. Condolences can be directed online to the Skinner and Middlebrook funeral home in Mississauga. Due to current restrictions, a private interment service will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery. When it is safe to convene again, we will hold a Mass of Remembrance and raise a glass together for a grand celebration of Ted’s long and spirited life.