Saturday, 10 January 2015

Reminiscences of a Military Brat...

The other day one of my co-workers, a Reservist like me, retired. He and I are a similar age; in fact, he was supposed to retire in October, while my date is Nov 10th, but health issues meant he left a bit early. His retirement, plus a couple of others recently, got me thinking about my past. I'm going to be 60 this year, and, unless something changes, I will finally, officially retire from the military. I've served almost 35 years in the Regular Force and since 2009 in the Reserves. Before that I was a military brat, meaning my father was in the Canadian Forces and I, along with my brothers and sister, followed him around military bases both inside and outside Canada. So basically, other than one year, I think, when my dad retired and before I joined the military, I've spent my whole life with some sort of relationship with the Canadian Forces. So, I thought, that, this being my last year, I'd kind of, occasionally take a look back and hope to provide a look at the life of a military brat and the life of someone in the military.

I hope it won't be too self-indulgent, but, hey, it probably will. But, then again, it is all about me. :0). As a starting point, the term 'military brat' is one way of describing me; the term that my family tended to use was 'PMQ' brat. PMQ's stand for Permanent Military Quarters and that is where military families tended to live. Living downtown amongst civilians wasn't done back in the '50s and '60s. The military built housing next to the Air, Army or Navy base and that is where we all lived. We went to base schools, entertained ourselves at base facilities; cinemas, hockey and curling rinks, bowling alleys, etc. My friends for the most part were other military brats and they always changed because our fathers moved regularly to new bases and we had to make new friends at each place. Not always an easy thing for kids, but that was the life.

Mom and Dad
So, let's take a step backwards and start where it all began for me.  I was born to Real and Edith Dumoulin, 10 Nov 1955 at 7:00 a.m, in the Civic Hospital in North Bay Ontario. At that time my father was stationed at Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) base, North Bay and I believe was an aero-engine technician. As I have been told, he had been supposed to be transferred the previous summer to Cold Lake Alberta, but because my mother was pregnant with me, that transfer never took place. Instead, after a few short months in North Bay, he was transferred to the Air Force base in Bagotville, Quebec.

The required embarrassing shot

My baby book
My father had been living with my mother in Timmins Ontario before I was born. After World War II, when my father served in the Royal Canadian Navy, he returned to Timmins to work in the Hollinger gold mine. He met my mother, who, I believe, worked for a lawyer in Kirkland Lake, just down the road from Timmins, they fell in love and got married.

With my older sister, Chris and brother Rick
While in Timmins, they had their first two children, Rick, who is eight years older than me and Chris, who is six years older. My dad's family is from Timmins and my mom's, who emigrated from Germany after WWI, lived in Kirkland Lake. At some point, my dad decided that he could better support his family if he joined the military again. So he joined the RCAF and found himself, eventually in North Bay. (The link does provide some info on the history and such of RCAF station/ base North Bay)

My Dad, I think taken a bit later
In North Bay, we lived on Foster Place. I don't remember anything about this early time as we moved to Bagotville before I was one year old. Rick and Christine went to grade school in North Bay, on the base, and then continued with their schooling and I started mine when we moved to Bagotville (but more on that in the next instalment)

Uncle Raymond and Aunt Lorreine my god-parents
A couple of highlights for me of my life in North Bay. I was christened (baptised) at the church on base and my god-parents were my dad's sister and brother, Aunt Lorreine and Uncle Raymond. Well, actually, I guess that's the big highlight. As I say, I don't remember that first few months, but we would ultimately return to North Bay, much later in my father's career. More about that later.

Me and Grandma (aka Meema), dad's mom
I leave this section with the last photo. I was so darn cute, eh?.. Well, then again, maybe not so much. Next instalment, we move to Bagotville. I have more memories about that base, made friends, started school, all the good things.


  1. Looking forward to Part Deux

    1. I hope to get part 3 done this weekend.


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