Thursday, 23 July 2015

Reminiscences of a Military Brat - Part 13 - University of Toronto

In September of 1974, I began my four year university career, commuting from my brother's PMQ at CFB Downsview. His place was unique as for the most part, the military housing was on the complete other side of the base. He lived in duplex off of an open field on Sheppard Avenue. Besides his house, there was a small house for the Padre and then the Base Commander's house. Other than that, it was just empty fields. As well, it was closer to the Yonge Street subway than the rest of the housing units.

University College Campus.
I went to University of Toronto's downtown campus and was part of University College. If you ever watch the original Black Christmas or the Class of '44, for the most part they were filmed in this area of the university. It was a lovely campus and when I eventually moved into university lodgings, my rooms were just behind and to the left of the Campus building.

But for the first 3 months, until I finally heard from the military about my ROTP scholarship, I commuted daily. My schedule wasn't too hectic. I planned on majoring in Political Science. For my first year, I took to Pol Sci courses; Intro to Canadian Politics and Intro to Political Philosophy. I also took an Intro to Economics course and an Accounting course and as my 'bird' course, I took a Spanish course. I figured it would be my easy course as I had been taking it all through high school. Wrong!! I generally started my day at the cafeteria in the basement of the University campus building and then was off to class. My most strenuous period was when I had to dash from one course on St George Street and try to get into my Political Philosophy class across Queen's Park in time. It rarely happened.

I didn't mind the commute, except it meant that I didn't really partake in the activities on campus. My commute was usually about an hour each way, so if I wanted to get back home early enough, I tended to leave early. Canadian Politics was interesting, not outstanding. Political Philosophy was interesting; mainly because our prof, Allan Bloom, made us read his book for the class. He was the expert after all. He was funny, intelligent and interesting. However, it was still Philosophy. Economics was basically boring. I skipped one week of classes in my second term and that was the one week we were taught a formula for microeconomics. Needless to say, I didn't do very well on that test, eh?

Accounting and I were not good friends. When I thought I understood it, I did poorly and when I hadn't a clue, I got great marks. I didn't continue with Accounting, as you can well imagine. And, when it came to my 'bird' course, well, let's just say, while I might have thought I had a pretty good grasp of the language, I was quite wrong. I passed the course, but over the course of the year, I kind of stopped attending my tutorials and just went to classes, but started feeling guilty about not attending tutorials and my classroom attendance also became somewhat haphazard.

I enjoyed the university experience. Classes were interesting and the campus was lovely for the most part. There was a mix of old and new buildings. The Robart's Library was designed like a sailing ship, most interesting. I spent many hours there, not only searching for books but also using the typing room to finalise my essays. (Yes, this was in the days before laptop computers when we actually wrote our essays by hand and then typed them for submission)

Do you remember this from Black Christmas?
From the new to the old, was Hart House, which was a sort of community building, consisting of pubs, restaurants, gymnasium facilities and other rooms. A beautiful building, just in behind the University College building.

The best newspaper on campus was The Toike Oike, the Engineering student's paper, basically a paper full of jokes against Artsies, Med students, jocks, etc. It was a nice counterpoint to the more sedate, The Varsity.

So I plodded along, commuting to my courses and spending my evenings and weekends with Rick and Heather. But as the year went on, I was getting nervous about ROTP and whether I would actually receive an offer. In November or December, I decided that if I wasn't going to get my offer, I would quit university and just enter the military as a Direct Entry Officer. One afternoon I went to the Recruiting Centre and asked if I could join in this fashion. At the time, the only careers with vacancies were Armour, Artillery or Infantry. I gulped, went home to think about it and within a couple of days, called and said that I would like to join up. Now, I'm told that the only career with vacancies was Artillery. Egads! I'm now thinking. I didn't think I really had a choice, so I accepted. The Recruiting Centre then advised that I would go to CFB Downsview in the next week for my medical and then fill out the necessary paperwork and lo and behold, I would now be a recruit in the Canadian Armed Forces as a potential Artillery Officer.

With some trepidation, I accepted this offer and went back to school to finish off my last few weeks. One day, shortly after, as I sat in my Canadian Politics class, a class with some 100+ students in it, the professor walked in, looked around and asked if there was a Mr. Dumoulin present. I thought, 'now what have I done?'. I'd barely talked with this professor and he's asking for me. I raised my hand and advised that I was Mr. Dumoulin. He looked at me and told me that there was a phone call for me in his office. Now I'm astounded and flabbergasted as I could not for the life of me think who might know I was in this class, know who my professor was and call him. So away I go, wandering around the building where the class was held and find his office and pick up the phone.

It was the Recruiting Centre, asking if I still wanted to be accepted in ROTP! After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I indicated that I was still interested. The Recruiting centre individual indicated that it was an easy process. I just needed to make an appointment for a medical, to which I told him, I already had one scheduled for next Wednesday. OK, then, well, I just needed to come down to fill out the necessary paperwork. I said ok, I already had an appointment for that. So that was that. I don't know how it happened, maybe by trying to enrol as direct entry, it tweaked the system to remind them I had an ROTP application in. Maybe some god somewhere was terrified of me being anywhere near a cannon as an artillery officer. Whatever it was, I was now accepted into ROTP. My brother Rick went to the Recruiting centre to swear me in (there is a picture of that somewhere and if I can find it, I'll post it here). I went to the Base to clear into the military. The cashier said that my entry would be back-dated to the beginning of the school year and proceeded to give me nearly $1,000.00 in twenty dollar bills. I went to Base Supply (where Rick worked) and picked up my new bottle green uniforms. I was told that I got one pair of shoes and one of boots and then I could choose a second of boots or of shoes. Shoes I picked. What did I know? I also realised that as I had been clearing into the base, that I had given the wrong Social Insurance Number, a nine digit sequence, and I'd mixed up the last six. So I had to go around all over and get that corrected.

We all wore green back in 1974, the middle one.
But for all of that, I was now an Officer Cadet, a future Logistics officer, in the Canadian Armed Forces. This meant that I could now afford to continue with my University education. My tuition was paid for, my book purchases reimbursed and I got a monthly salary to cover my living expenses. My tuition at the time was around $600 per year. In 2013, an Officer Cadet received about $1600 per month. Back in 1974, I'm sure it was more like $400 per month and when I moved into residence, which I did in January 1975, was $1,300.00 approximately per year. This included enough meal cards to get you through until about March if you ate every meal a day starting in September.

Whitney Hall, University College, U of T.
But that was nothing to worry about. I was still at university and I was in the military. I checked with the University College Registrar and was told that I could get room at Cody House, one of four houses in Whitney Hall.

My roommate, Chris Bradford
I thanked Rick and Heather for putting up with me for the past 4 months and in January, after the Christmas holidays, I moved into residence. This is what greeted me. Chris Bradford, a loud, brash, but great guy was to be my first roommate. More to follow.. :0)

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