North West Territories & A Family Begins
After returning from my European travel adventures it was time to think about settling down and taking the Policing career seriously. Having dated various girls as I grew up and had the company of more as I went through RCMP training and my initial postings in Ottawa and Manitoba, it was in Fort Good Hope NWT that I met my ex-wife.
She was Australian on an around-the-world nursing working trip. Her planned worldly journey ended in Canada when we were married in Inuvik, NWT on the 20th of June 1975. We had 3 fantastic children during our married life who are now wonderful adults with their own families. We enjoyed all the typical joys, tribulations, up and downs, and experiences of family life. There are some wonderful memories to cherish. After 21 years of marriage & family life with 3 fantastic children, we divorced in November 1997, when living in Australia.
Jason, the oldest son, was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories on a cold winter night in October 1975. Your life is different when you are single and newly married but the arrival of children changes everything – and this was no different for us. It was winter in the Arctic when Jason was born on a cold, snowy night.
First Australia Trip
We took our first family trip and headed to Australia for family visits and to see some sites with our young son. It was an eye opener the Australian way of life – similar, but different to Canada. It seemed such a long way to travel and little did I know then that I would be returning back to live there one day.
Innisfail, Alberta – Family visit
While I was undergoing RCMP dog handler training, for the first time, my family came to visit for a month and we lived in a cabin on Pine Lake not far from the training facility outside Red Deer Alberta. It was a bit of an isolated location but was inexpensive to suit the budget and it was a great place for BBQ & relaxing. I believe it was a bit lonely for my young family as I would be off training every day and they had little to do for enjoyment and entertainment. When I completed my training we moved to Ontario for my posting at Toronto Airport.
Toronto Ontario, family living
Our move to Ontario (the first time) for me to take up Drug Dog detection duties at the airport was organised and we were on our way. We were looking for a house outside of the immediate Toronto area as they were less expensive and a better environment for raising Jason. It was an opportunity to let the Canadian grandparents see Jason and enjoy time with him. We got to travel to Orillia a few times to check out where I grew up and meet the neighbors – May who looked after me, got to meet my son.
We settled on Shelburne, Ontario a small town of only 2500 people north of Toronto in Dufferin County also known as “The Burne” located at the intersection of Highway 10 and Highway 89. Shelburne is best known for the Annual Canadian Championship Fiddling Contest which is held each August.
St John’s, Newfoundland living
The twins were born in St. John’s Newfoundland in September 1979 as the days were turning to autumn and the weather was getting cooler. We had two different houses when we lived in St John’s – one was in the Goulds just outside town and the other was in a city suburb. The Newfoundland weather was very different due to its coastal location with days often experiencing 2 or 3 seasonal changes – from cold, to wet to snow. It was a harsh climate but we enjoyed our time here.
The family was young and life was busy. The twins were born here at St Clare’s Mercy Hospital on Sunday at 4.34 pm. Buying a flipper pie one day at Bidgoods Super Market near our house in the Goulds was the worst mistake I had made in food choices. It was well-loved by those raised in Newfoundland but not for me – it was very fishy, oily, and sickening as I recall – one bite and out it went. Lobsters were plentiful and cheap. Purchasing them from the dockside at $1.00 each was an in-season joy. We often had fresh lobster feeds – it was a big event to cook them up. We went camping in the provincial parks here when summer was prevailing as the weather was always so unpredictable.
British Columbia – family living
While I was working at Coquitlam Detachment we decided first to live in nearby Maple Ridge which was an adjacent smaller town. Later we moved to another house in Mission, BC living on Ewert Ave, a rural suburb that provided us a large house and big yard, ideal for kennelling the police dog. We were both working and trying to juggle shift work and 3 kids – it was a challenge as we often worked the evening and night shifts. We tried a nanny at one stage to try to help out but that wasn’t such a great success. Our oldest son started school here as I recall at Hatzic Elementary School.
Road trip across America – June 1982
Being posted from British Columbia to Ontario allowed a plan to be hatched for a road trip that would allow us to explore some of America on the way. It seemed a great opportunity to see some of the features of the US we would not likely otherwise get to visit. We had to drive our car to Ontario so let’s just detour south and check things out on the way. With 3 small children and a small budget, we decided camping would be fun and inexpensive (I mean cheap). We didn’t anticipate the effort required to drive all day, do some sightseeing, and put up a camp at a different campground every night – with tired kids that required attention. Everyone had their chores to help out – nobody liked blowing up the air mattresses for sleeping.
The route was south from Vancouver to Washington state then south through Oregon, California, and then across the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio on into Ontario to Toronto – a long drive.
This was a marathon trip looking back with 3 young children. We checked out these spots and so many more on the way….it was great to learn about so many new things.
Los Angeles – we visited many sites including Disney Land, Knotts Berry Farm, and Universal Pictures.
Arizona, New Mexico – we checked out Tombstone and the site of the gunfight at the OK Corral;
Arizona – Grand Canyon – is a sight to behold and Shawn wanted to leap into the Canyon. He was always full of energy and it was a challenge to control him around the un-fenced edges of the canyon.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee – lots of sites including Elvis mansion in Memphis; Loretta Lynn’s ranch at Hurricane Hills
The RCMP were pretty good on their transfer arrangements. We had been able to visit and plan our move and find a house to rent ahead of time as I recall. So when we arrived after our long road trip we had a place to move into once the furniture arrived. After renting for a while and tiring of the traffic noise from the busy road behind us we bought a property nearby in Erin Mills, Mississauga. It was on a nice quiet street with great neighbors, the school was at the end of the street so convenient for the kids and there were many children around for friends.
Family life was busy, and routine but hectic with 3 kids and two working parents. The school at the end of our street had before and after-school daycare which was so helpful. We had found a fantastic daycare facility for the twins before they were of school age. The street and neighborhood were full of families and friends for the kids at school and to play.
Kids’ sports became a focus as well to occupy them and to teach them teamwork and how to get along with others including taking direction. Ice hockey, skating, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and swimming were featured in the lineup of activities – the kids had their own favorite activities. It was a big juggle to meet all the demands. Both boys were in competitive sports at an elite level and this made great demands on our time to get them to practices and games. My daughter had her own sports that also required attention. Playing snack bar at the older sons’ games was a favorite pastime for the twins. Weekend scheduled games and special tournaments provided regular trips away to other parts of Ontario and the US.
There were also holidays and trips around the region to see the sights such as Niagara Falls, and Upper Canada Village, camping and other activities kept us all occupied. We went to the fall fair in Toronto for the kids to enjoy the fun of the rides, exhibitions and show bags. It was a busy period for everyone as they were growing but a fun time.
We took trips north to Orillia to see my parents who were getting frail and ill before they passed.
We even managed to take a family trip to the Dominican Republic with the kids. The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. It is a geographically diverse nation, the Dominican Republic is home to the region’s tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, as well as the Caribbean’s largest lake and lowest elevation, Lake Enriquillo. The island has a warm temperature and great climatic and biological diversity.
The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in all of the Americas, located in Santo Domingo’, the capital, an area declared as a World Heritage Site. Music and sport are of great importance in the Dominican culture, with Merengue and Bachata as the national dance and music, and baseball as the favorite sport. We stayed at a lovely resort and enjoyed the water, tours, and experiences of a different way of life. The way of life was very poor for the locals but the staff was so friendly and lovely.
Good Bye Canada
So it was farewell as we took our final journey across Canada before leaving for Australia – see the separate post about our cross-Canada camper van adventures