RCN Proud: The Cummings family leaves its mark

CPO1 (Ret’d) Jim Cummings is seen near the end of his RCN career. SUBMITTED

RCN Proud: The Cummings family leaves its mark

By Vincent Joyce,
Pictou County Military Museum

CPO1 (Ret’d) Cummings pictured earlier in his career, as a young Able Seaman. SUBMITTED

James Leo Cummings was born on February 28, 1939 in Marmora, Ont. He joined the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Howe in Peterborough at the age of 12 in 1951, and Jim served with cadets for four years, becoming Chief of the Corps, Lead Trumpet, and Drum Major for the band. He then went to the Army Reserve Band, until in 1956, on his 17th Birthday, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at HMCS York in Toronto.

CPO1 (Ret’d) Cummings’ sons Christopher (CPO1 Ret’d) and Colin (Lt(N) Ret’d), pictured here, are each RCN veterans as well. SUBMITTED

Jim Took his basic training in HMCS Cornwallis, followed by trade courses over the years at HMCS Stadacona, plus further trade qualifications on board ships allowing him to become a Chief Engine Room Artificer (ERA). Jim served in the following ships: HMCS Outremont, HMCS Micmac, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Columbia, HMCS Chaleur, HMCS Cap de la Madeleine, HMCS Antigonish, HMCS Gatineau, HMCS Skeena, HMCS Assiniboine, HMCS Protecteur, and HMCS Preserver. Time was also spent on land at then-HMCS Shearwater, HMCS Naden, Maritime Command Headquarters, and at Canadian Vickers Shipyard in Montreal.

Many countries were visited during Jim’s Career because of the number of NATO tours he took part in – England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Africa, up and down the Eastern and Western Seaboard of the United States, and Canada’s northern waters.

Jim served 26 years in the RCN, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer 1st Class ERA.

Jim has received the Canadian Forces Decoration as well as the Special Service Medal. For his volunteer service at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital with his therapy dog Stoker (which he still does), he was awarded Field Knight in The Order of St. George as well as the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.

Prior to discharge in May of 1982, Jim had his last sea posting on board HMCS Protecteur as the Chief ERA, and his last shore posting was at the former Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School as the Chief Instructor. From the Navy, Jim went to work as a Mechanical Fitter in the dockyard, and became the Maritime Command Boiler Inspector before retiring in1998. Not satisfied with nothing to do, he went on to be a cruise ship tour guide and did that work until the COVID pandemic hit.

Jim married Mildred Cecelia Snow of Canso, NS; on September 19th, 2023, the couple celebrated their 64th Anniversary. A great big congratulations goes out to them both. They were blessed with two sons and two daughters, 11 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Their two sons both served in the Royal Canadian Navy. Their oldest Christopher retired as a Chief Petty Officer 1st Class ERA himself after 32 years service, and Colin first joined the Air Force as a Communicator, switched to the Navy as a Hull Tech, and from there took his Commision becoming a Lieutenant (Navy) Logistics Officer, retiring after 27 years. Quite a tradition in the Canadian Armed forces for the Cummings family!

Jim says he knows the reason he has been successful both in the Navy and in civilian life is because of his life companion Millie, who kept the home fires burning all the years he was away at sea.

RCN Proud profiles focus on former or current Royal Canadian Navy personnel. If you would like your story told or have a suggestion for a future profile, please contact Vincent Joyce at