My Arrival in Canada 1964

  • The things that I take for granted today, were indeed both exciting and strange when I first set foot on Canadian soil back in January 1964. I was a 24 year old submariner aboard HM/SM Alcide, we were joining the 6th Canadian Submarine Squadron based in Halifax. We expected to be stationed here for two years working with the RCN anti submarine frigates. My first surprise was the snow and how cold it was. I wasn’t prepared for walking down the streets of Halifax wearing my light uniform rain coat, shoes and navy issue wool gloves . Within minutes my ears and my feet felt frozen and the rest of my body not far behind. You learn fast about the necessary winter clothing needs in a Canadian winter. As the months moved to spring I was learning new things that were still all unfamiliar to me. I wanted to rent a car one weekend and was asked for my credit history. Proudly I declared I had no credit history, I only paid cash for the things I needed. Alas! No credit history no car rental that weekend. I was fascinated with the huge cars with massive engines and tail fins. Wrapped in chrome inside and out with wrap around glass. This was a long way from the tiny four cylinder motor cars from home. Although there was a sprinkling of British and European cars about. One weekend someone suggested we get a bucket of chicken, a what? chicken in a bucket, never heard of such a thing! We went to Bedford/Sunnyside to see food places like A&W drive in. I’d never seen a drive in restaurant and didn’t have the slightest idea how one could eat there. Then I learned about the drive in theatres, these strange Canadian ways of doing things. Probably the oddest was the taverns! nothing like the iconic British pubs. We had to sit  four to a table, no dart boards no piano for a sing along, well, good reason for that, singing wasn’t permitted. No pints, we were just served two small glasses of draught for eleven cents per glass. However, it was customary to pay twenty five cents, or as I quickly learned, a quarter. The waiter keep the three cents, it was part of his wages. I thought these taverns served food, every table had a salt shaker on it. Wrong again the salt apparently was for putting in your beer. The fact every home and apartment had a phone, fridge, bath and shower, always hot water, and central heating. It seem everyone had a car some more than one. The standard of living was light years ahead of the UK. Then came summer, so hot almost everyone wore shorts, some of the girls wore short shorts. I heartily approved, now that was a great Canadian idea.  To this point I had only wore shorts while stationed in Singapore or when playing football. Gee! it’s not called football here either, soccer! That was fifty six years ago, I’m a Canadian Now!!

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Family and veterans, HM Submarines, military, Prince Edward Island, The Royal Navy & Me, vehicles. Bookmark the permalink.

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