Service information for:
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My time in the RCN(R): When I was in my early teens (1964?) my mother worked with a fellow who was an officer in the reserve. Sorry but I've forgotten his name. At that time the HMSC HAIDA had just come in to Toronto and he arranged for us to visit the HAIDA which was taking a short cruise out in the lake for the visitors. When we were out in the lake they fired some blank shells from some of the guns. That had me.
As soon as I was of age with my parents permission my buddy and I went down and signed up. As I mentioned earlier I believe it was the weekend of September 24,25 and 26th. On Friday we bussed from HMCS YORK to HMCS STAR in Hamilton to board the ships. The crew was made up of us reservists, a few Sea Cadets and the regular staff on the St. Jean. I was assigned to the PORTE ST JEAN. The idea was to do some exercises on the lake and then head for Rochester Saturday afternoon and have Saturday night in Rochester. We were allowed leave, but as most of us we quite young we had to be back aboard by midnight.
On Sunday morning we woke up to quite a storm. We left Rochester harbour as far as I remember just after breakfast. The rumours we left the harbour against two warning flags for the storm. About 1 hour outside of Rochester the main engine on the PORTE ST JEAN quit (I'm not sure of the reason). The storm was quite bad at that time. We were later to know they estimated the wind at over 50 miles per hour and the waves at 15 feet. We were then asked to raise two large black balls on the mast. Myself and another fellow were asked to do it. They tied us off with ropes held between the shelter near the bridge structure and the door to the men's mess. We were able to do this. When we finished we were then asked to assist in trying to get a tow line from the PORTE ST LOUIS. I can remember standing by the main mast when the ST LOUIS came close to fire the line for the tow rope. We were at the bottom of a wave the ST LOUIS was at the top. I looked up and could actually see the propellers of the ST LOUIS as it crested the wave. They tried this few times before we could actually get the tow rope attached. The ST LOUIS tried to tow us but I believe they could not make any headway due to the storm.
I wish I knew more details of how long this was but a Canadian Coast Guard cutter came across the lake late Sunday night/early Saturday morning, secured us and towed us back into Rochester. Late Monday we were bussed back to YORK. When we got back we found out that at one point we were within a quarter mile of the American shore before the Coast Guard got to us. The local radio stations apparently reported we were "lost" at sea at one point. It was the second or third weekend after, repairs were completed and we were asked to go back to Rochester and sail her home. We all did.
I believe the Governor General of Canada issued a unit Citation for the three ships involved.
The next summer I spent the whole school break away. For the first month I was in Stadacona to complete some basic training and such. We worked for a couple of weeks on the HMCS SAGUENAY when she as in dry dock that summer. Myself and one other reservist from York chipped paint and repainted the two anchor doors. I can remember having to line the roadway for, I believe it was Rear-Admiral Landymore's retirement. I think he was opposed to the unification of the branches.
From there we went to Naden for the rest of the summer. While there we were on board the HMCS ANTIGONISH when they were getting ready to pay her off. There were a number of Officers who were aboard for training and while at sea they fired several hundred rounds from the main guns (4" I think). I was assigned to take the live shells from the hoist and put them in the locker. Quite an experience. The last part of the duty was at harbour to remove the last of the live shells.
This was followed up by a communication course at HMCS STAR in Hamilton the following year and two weeks at CFS MILL COVE the year after that in the communications centre. The next year we were asked to deliver six twenty foot whale boats from the manufacturer in Georgian Bay to the Sea Cadet station in Trenton.
Other than that we did quite a few weekend cruises on Lake Ontario with the gate vessels. One thing I loved on board was being on the helm. I would actually volunteer on my off time to "drive". I got pretty good at it and they let me do specials like man overboard exercises and such. They also had me on the wheel house telegraph on leaving and entering harbour.
In 1967 we formed a Gun's Crew and a Hornpipe Dance crew for Canada's Birthday. We spend the whole year travelling from City to City (Trenton, Borden, US Coast Guard base in NY. Great experience.
In 1970 we were put on alert for the F.L.Q. Crisis when they issued the War Measures Act.
After that unfortunately my job got in the way of my service. I held on as long as I could then had to leave the reserves in 1973.
I did earn my L.S. stripes however due to a paper work mix up I was still listed as a Private when I retired.