Martyn Rice

Obituary of Martyn Arthur Rice


On October 23, 2022, Martyn passed away peacefully in the Kensington Oakville Retirement Residence at the age of 96. Predeceased by his wife Joyce (Jo) Rice and his brother Bernard, Martyn is survived by his brother-in-law Geoffrey Maskell, his niece Philippa Neale (Richard) and grand-nephews William and James in England, along with cousins Ross McTavish (Trish), Beth McTavish (Jacqui) in Canada and Cameron McTavish (Karen) in Australia and their families.


Martyn, son of Arthur Charles and Doris Lillian (Baker) Rice, was born on September 11, 1926 in Brentford, Twickenham, England.  In 1940, when the Battle of Britain was raging and German invasion forces were being amassed across the English Channel, Martyn (14 years old) and his brother Bernard (10 years old) were evacuated from England through the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) programme.  On September 7, 1940, along with thirty-two other children, they boarded the SS Nerissa in Liverpool headed for Halifax.  The Nerissa was the last CORB evacuation ship to successfully make the crossing.  The next ship, the SS City of Benares that left Liverpool on September 13, 1940 was torpedoed and sank. Seventy-seven of the ninety CORB children died, resulting in Winston Churchill promptly cancelling the programme.  Upon arrival in Halifax, Martyn and Bernard boarded a train and travelled across Canada to Vancouver,  where they lived for the next three years with their McTavish relatives, Aunt Marjorie (Baker) and Uncle Donald McTavish.  Martyn and Bernard returned to England via the same route in 1943 and were met by their father at Waterloo Station who took them to their new home in Brighton, England where their parents had moved in their absence.


In October, 1944, Martyn was recruited to the British Army.  He was trained in the Royal Corps of Signals to intercept Morse code signals.  His first assignment was in India, where they arrived in Bombay on a crowded, hot ship, having slept in hammocks for the two week passage.  Martyn was then sent to Singapore where their section set up camp in an abandoned Japanese army base.  After he had fulfilled his duties with the army, Martyn returned to school in England and began a career in insurance with Equity & London Life Insurance Company.  Martyn had no actuarial school training, instead learning by merit.  He became the dedicated in-house person in London, working with offices and brokers across the city.  


In Brighton, Martyn met the love of his life, Joyce (Jo) Mary Barnes, a vivacious, fun-loving and adventurous primary school teacher.  On October 23, 1954 Martyn and Jo were married.  Their first home was in Regency Mews, Brighton in a little terraced cottage and Martyn commuted from there to London for work.  He was a member of the Brighton Giants, a winning basketball team in the local league. 


In 1959, Martyn and Jo boarded the RMS Empress of Britain bound for Quebec City and their final destination of Toronto where Martyn had been transferred by the insurance company.  Martyn had a long and illustrious insurance career in Canada, specializing in a new product called “Group Insurance”.  He received many awards including “Insurance Man of the Year 1972-73” and the “Fellow of Distinction 1998” awarded by the Society of Fellows of the Insurance Institute of Canada. At the same time, Jo continued her career in teaching and was much admired and loved by her students and fellow teachers.  Martyn and Jo lived at 21 Dale Avenue in Rosedale for almost 50 years.  They enjoyed all of the culture Toronto had to offer.  They attended theatre, opera and symphony performances and enjoyed traditions such as afternoon tea at The Royal York Hotel. 


Martyn was passionate about music.  He was an accomplished flautist and played in an ensemble called the “Van Sickle Group” where he would not only set up complimentary performances at retirement homes, but also arranged the music for the various instruments in the ensemble.  In later years, Martyn used software on his computer to assist in this process.  Martyn practiced his flute in their storage room at Dale, near the laundry room, while he waited for the washing to dry.  Martyn’s niece Philippa (a music specialist teacher and amateur singer) fondly remembers that Martyn would bring his flute on visits to Brighton and encourage her to join him in duets on her recorder. 


Martyn was a true intellectual.  He was a voracious reader, preferring historical non-fiction and, in particular, anything written by Stephen Hawking.  Martyn read multiple newspapers and was always eager to engage in a discussion on any topic.  He completed the Globe and Mail cryptic crossword in pen every morning.  Martyn will be remembered by all for being a tall, quiet man with a dry sense of humour, and a great deep laugh, but above all, always a gentleman. 


The family wishes to thank the kind and compassionate nurses, doctors, PSWs and staff at Revera The Kensington Oakville for the comfort and care provided Martyn on his final journey.  The family also wishes to thank Brian Dunn for his many years of service and devotion to Martyn and Jo. 


In respect of his wishes, cremation arrangements have been made and there will be a private family scattering of ashes in the rose garden at St. James Cemetery, Toronto.  Condolences may be forwarded through   


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