Friday, December 16, 2016

Dad's Navy Days - Gord's Stellar Research (1).

'You've Got Mail' From Vancouver Island, May 2016.

At the White Whale Restaurant, beside Courtenay Slough. Cheers!

Three times I have visited Vancouver Island (specifically Victoria, Esquimalt, Comox, Courtenay, Gladstone Brewery) in the last few years in order to conduct research related to my Dad's WW2 experiences as a member of RCNVR and Combined Operations. I feel each trip has been very worthwhile and good information has been uncovered at libraries, archives, museums and Navy bases. 'Walk abouts' and conversations or 'sit downs' at pubs are helpful too.

While away I emailed home to let my family know I was alive and well. On occasion I mentioned a few words or included a photo related to my research. Naturally, I suffered failures on several occasions or felt empty-handed because so much time has passed since my father served at a Combined Operations Training Centre (Givenchy III). Other times I could celebrate success and feel positive about not only trips to the Island but others planned for the future.

I 'celebrate success' in the following email:

Subject: Courtenay Slough, May 23, 2016

Hi Family,

I write this while enjoying my first coffee of the morning. I include a photo I took yesterday while enjoying a pint and chips at the White Whale Pub. The pub's deck overlooks the Courtenay Slough, used as a parking lot for boats to this day.

Dad would have parked landing crafts here, and walk a quarter mile with his buddies to the Riverside Hotel for pints, or to a movie at the Bickle Theatre next door, and maybe to a dance at Native Sons Hall, an impressive building next in line on the same street.

I cut my stay at White Whale short because the Memorial Cup games begin on TV at four pm. London Knights play today so I will come home for that game too.

The Courtenay library is closed, no microfiche for me, so I may bus it to Cumberland for their festivities (May 24th weekend). Their museum could also be closed, will check first. Big mining town in the forties, should be lots of good old buildings to stare at.

Hugs to all, Gord.

Not only did my London Knights go on to win the Memorial Cup but I greatly enjoyed the Victoria day festivities in Cumberland. Their museum was closed but a lively brew pub was open. As well, when I parked myself at the White Whale beside the Courtenay Slough I felt I was very close to a lively hub (or center of activities) enjoyed by young Canadian men and women during WW2. The former Combined Ops training centre at Comox (now HMCS Quadra) was close by as was Courtenay's town centre, with some buildings still standing that my father and his mates in the Combined Operations organization commonly frequented about 70 years ago.

Related Photographs:
 Navy No. 1 Ball Team, Lewis Park, Courtenay, 1944-45. Slough nearby.

 Wooden landing craft, parked in Courtenay Slough

 Old card displayed at Simms Park near Courtenay Slough

 Commemorative plaque at Simms Park, 50 metres from the Slough

 Riverside Hotel is up the hill, right, behind the tall trees. Slough is back left.
Lewis Park is back right. Bridge crosses the Courtenay River.

Hotel in late 1940s with Bickle Theatre and Dance Hall behind it.

 Native Sons (Dance) Hall still stands. Bickle (gone) was to the right.

 Riverside Hotel was destroyed in the 1960s.

Three members of Combined Operations at Givenchy III, on The Spit.
Comox is in the background, Courtenay 2 miles left of Comox. 
Doug Harrison (center) trained "Zombies on Navy cutters"

More to follow.

Photos GH

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