The family of Ross Aitkens regret to announce his passing on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Sydney.

Born on May 7, 1963, in Sydney, Ross was the son of the late Norris and Violet (Rogers) Aitkens.

Ross was a private, quiet, gentle person who preferred to work in the background, though his family and friends knew him for his zany sense of humour and contagious laugh. He loved his family and was a fixture at family get-togethers and holidays. He showed his affection for his loved ones through acts of service and kindness and was generous to a fault with his time and skills. After his uncle Wally died, for example, he would often show up at his aunt Cathy’s, and set quietly to work, cleaning the yard, putting up Christmas lights, or organizing a storage room. Ross would always be there if he knew someone needed help.

As a teenager Ross’s tastes were for the icons of an earlier era, that of classic cars, jukeboxes, duck-tail haircuts, Elvis Presley, and Patsy Cline, and all his life he retained a fondness for that aesthetic. Soon after high school he began working at Crowell’s department store and was employed there until it closed. With his gift for drawing and painting, he quickly became a skilled sign-painter and became a commercial display decorator, working under the guidance of his life-long friend and mentor, Shirley Foote. Ross decorated and painted graphics in many store windows along Charlotte Street and in the local shopping malls, and his murals graced the walls of several local businesses.

Ross’s interest in earlier times gave him a deep passion for local history. He was a tireless researcher and amateur historian, and he focused on his own genealogy, the local ferry system, the history local transportation generally, and the economic development of Westmount. He dived deep into the commercial and architectural history of Old Sydney town, spent countless hours doing research at the Beaton Institute, and volunteered at Old Sydney Society cataloging photos. He was especially proud of the exhibit he put together on the local ferry system, featuring his grandfather Ashley Aitkens and the Westmount-to-Sydney ferry. Ross’s work occasionally appeared as articles in the Cape Breton Post, and he spent many hours walking through Sydney noting the changing landscape and comparing it to historic photographs. Fellow history buffs told him how much they looked forward to seeing the fruits of his labour published in a more permanent form, to which he shrugged modestly and replied quietly, “Maybe, someday, if live long enough.”

Ross is survived by his siblings, Brian (Carolyn), Glenn (Helen) and Wanda (Tony) McElhatton; nieces, Allica and Bridget; nephews, Scott, Geoffrey, and Mark; as well as his extended family: particularly close to aunt, Kathy; cousins, Blaine and Kim; aunt, Vera and cousins, Paula and Carol.

Visitation and memorial service to celebrate the life of Ross Aitkens will be held at Pier Community Funeral Home, 1092 Victoria Rd. (entrance on Church St.), Whitney Pier on Monday, April 11, 2022. A gathering of family and friends will take place from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. with the memorial service to follow at 2 p.m. in the All Faith Chapel. Interment will take place in Hardwood Hill Cemetery, Sydney.

The family encourage the wearing of masks at the service.

Donations in memory of Ross may be made to the Old Sydney Society or the Beaton Institute.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care and direction of Pier Community Funeral Home.

Online Condolences

Hello, my name is Donna Wilkie. I am so very broken hearted to hear of Ross’s passing!! My husband, Ken, and I have been friends of Ross for many years. Over 20. We haven’t had a connection in a few years but were glad to see each other for a wave or hello from afar during these times we live in!! He was such a special person and friend to us and when he spoke of his family, it was with pride and love!!! His talents and sweet and charished gifts still grace our home and have so much more meaning to us now, more than ever!! His thoughtfulness will never be forgotten by us. I will play the Patsy Cline cassette tape you made for us, with sadness and joy!! I love you like a brother Ross and I will never forget you! My Christmas will be a little sadder this year, and my Halloween will be a little less festive when I decorate with the things you touched and created for me!! You have wings my friend!! Soar high my brother in thought!! I love you!!

From:  Donna Wilkie

We are so sorry to hear of the loss of Ross. We thought the world of Ross. When our home burned he was there for us to help us design our new home 21 years ago. He wil be missed sincerely Wayne O’Handley and John Bennett.

From:  Wayne and John

So saddened to hear about Ross. My condolences to Ross’s family on his passing. I worked with Ross at Crowell’s. He was an awesome worker. Very dedicated and helpful to our staff at Crowell’s. RIP Ross

From:  Georgina Ott

Wanda and family,
So sorry to hear about Ross’s unexpected passing. Condolences to you and your family. Our thoughts are with you.
From:  Lynda and Brian Pottie