Bernie passed away peacefully with his family at his side on September 1, 2020, following a stroke.
Bernie was born in Groningen, Holland, son of Bernard and Tyja (Kleinenberg) Luttmer and brother to Barbara. Bernie had a passion for sailing which began as a child sailing on the canals in Holland. In 1960, Bernie immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta with his parents and sister. Bernie pursued a degree in civil engineering at the University of Alberta and swam competitively on the university swim team where he met his beloved wife Jean. After university, Bernie and Jean moved to Toronto where Bernie worked as a professional engineer designing and building swimming pools.
Lake Ontario was calling and it was not long before Bernie bought his first boat – a Flying Dutchman. Bernie did everything with enthusiasm, and in typical Bernie style, Bernie and Jean also bought the small cottage where they kept their boat on Frenchman’s Bay in Pickering, Ontario. The cottage was bought from Ralph Swan, and this was the beginning of a long career in the marine industry. Bernie and Jean founded Swans Marina and ran the business for almost 50 years.
A leader in the boating community, Bernie supported the sport of sailing with an inclusive, generous, and hard work ethic. Throughout his life, Bernie supported all types of sailors in various ways such as developing grass roots high school and family learn to sail programs, selling and servicing boats to new and long-term cruisers, and sponsoring racers and Olympic sailing athletes. You could always find Bernie tying down a stranger’s boat to weather a storm or enthusiastically sharing his love and knowledge of boating. Despite working very hard, Bernie also found time for other things he enjoyed – swimming, skiing, singing, and family. He was a passionate and compassionate man, always caring and reaching out to those around him. Inspired by his own father who was an entrepreneur and an artist, Bernie enjoyed and supported the arts.
He loved dearly and leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Jean; children Katherine (JP), Carol (Richard), Bernard (Nadia); grandchildren, Eileen, Clara, John, Bernard, Simon, Isabel and Audrey; nieces and nephews, Kim, Dean, and Jill; great-nieces Kassandra, Tyja, and Sam; and extended family in Canada and abroad. His spirit lives on in the wind that fills our sails and in all of us whose lives he touched.
There will be a celebration of life party when large gatherings are permitted so that family, friends, and Bernie’s community can come together to celebrate Bernie’s life in the way he would like. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Ontario Sailing in support of Youth & Able Sailing Programs.
  • To donate to Ontario Sailing by credit card, please visit the Sail Canada website at https://www.sailing.ca/ and click on the DONATE button in the top right corner. When filling out the online form, please choose “Ontario Sailing Programs” from the FUNDING OPTIONS dropdown and indicate “Youth & Able Sailing Programs” in the SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS section.
  • To donate by cheque (made out to Ontario Sailing), mail to Ontario Sailing, 17-70 Unsworth Drive, Hamilton, ON L8W 3K4.
Click Here to read the obituary published in The Globe and Mail from Sep. 12 to Sep. 16, 2020.
Bernie was a past Ontario Sailing Board of Director, the recipient of the 2009 Ontario Sailing Presidents’ Award, and along with his wife Jeannie, the recipient of the 2016 Legends of Ontario Sailing Award “Honouring the Past to Inspire the Future!” Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Jeannie, his children Katherine, Carol & Bernard and many grandchildren.
Fair winds and following seas, Bernie!  We will miss you!