Retired Commodore heads Commissionaires

Mark Watson Commissionaires Chief of Staff

Mark Watson
Commissionaires Chief of Staff

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A retired Commodore of the Royal Canadian Navy is the new leader of an organization that provides security services to public and private sector clients including Canada’s military bases.

Mark Watson is the new Commissionaires Chief of Staff. He replaces Captain (Retired) Harry Harsch, who served for five years with the non-profit, self-funded organization.

“I hope my military and business experience will prove to be an asset to improve our institution’s effectiveness and efficiency,” said Watson. “To that end, I look forward to working with the various boards, management teams, and commissionaires across Canada.”

Commissionaires is Canada’s premier security provider and the largest employer of retired Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and RCMP veterans. Coast to coast, they employ more than 22,000 people. Services range from professional guarding to by-law enforcement to digital fingerprinting, criminal and employee background checks that one can also get a check online, and security training.

“Commissionaires is a truly unique Canadian institution serving veterans and the community for nearly 100 years,” says Watson.

Col (Retired) Chris Lythgo, Commissionaires National Board Chair, describes his new colleague as “an accomplished leader” with a proven track record of success who possesses a “wealth of knowledge and skills” from over three decades of service to the CAF and Department of National Defence.

He also noted that Watson should be a familiar face to many military personnel with the Commissionaires, having held a variety of senior appointments over a period of 36 years.

Some of his more high-profile posts include Logistics Officer, African Union Mission in Sudan (2005); Director Maritime Material Operation Support and J4 Canada Command; member of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council; CEO Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) 2012 to 2016; and Director General Compensation and Benefits (2016 to 2019). In 2006 he served as CFB Halifax Base Administration Officer and in 2012 was Base Commander at Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa).

“I have started to miss not putting on the uniform everyday and the camaraderie that exists in the military, but luckily Commissionaires has that connection to military people and we still have that culture of brothers and sisters in arms,” said Watson.

Watson, 56, grew up in Barrie, Ont., but now resides in Chelsea, Que., where he lives his wife Dr. Lisa Chillingworth Watson. The couple have four adult children. His father Walter served in the Korean War with the senior armoured division of the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

Along with his military service, he has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Masters of War Studies, Masters of Defence Studies from Royal Military College (RMC), and a Masters of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University, and is a Certified Professional Accountant.


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  1. Mark,
    Congratulations on your appointment. Best wishes for a successful tenure. When we get going again, drop in for one of our lunches. In fact, how about giving a talk about what you and your office do.
    Ottawa Branch RMC CLUB of Canada

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