I first set foot on Canadian soil on the 18th January 1964 via a Royal Navy submarine. Canadian winter came as a nasty shock. The first time I headed into town I gave up at the dockyard gate. I was in uniform wearing shoes and rain coat. My feet were soaked and my ears in danger of frost bite. But enough of my weather woes, let’s talk cars. Naturally almost every member of our crew wanted to buy a car. We were fascinated by the many huge American cars, and equally shocked by the ravages of rust on so many. I rolled onto a small used car lot in Dartmouth, I had $100 in my pocket. The salesman steered me to a rough looking 1949 Buick. Took it for a test drive but never left the lot, the three on the tree jammed between the gears! Next, he put me in 1956 Chevy automatic, I had to ask how one drove an automatic, I’d never seen one before that day. He had a odd look on his face as sailed off down Windmill Rd. I bought the Chevy for $100. A few weeks later driving down one of those steep Halifax streets I lost my brakes. I was lucky didn’t kill anyone or hit another vehicle and managed to turn up another slope and bring this piece of, (well you know the word I was looking for) to a stop. I sold it a week later after having the rusted-out brake line replaced. I can’t say for absolute certainty, but believe I had now become a little wiser in looking for a better car. I say this because I now had my eye set a nice little 1959 Singer Gazelle. It hadn’t been used for some time; the owner told me it just needed a new battery. It looked to be in good condition, no rust holes, nice interior and low mileage (24,000). I took a chance it was just the battery and sealed the deal at $200. Like I have already suggested I think I was getting wiser at car shopping? Purchased a new battery and indeed the little Gazelle sprang to life. I might be embellishing just wee bit, if I remember correctly a shipmate gave me a tow to get the motor running. Nevertheless, l kept it for the rest of my time in Halifax, it never let me down in the roughly 10.000 thousand miles that I drove it. In 1966 I sold it to a newly arriving replacement submariner as I prepared to return to the UK. Tried hard to make some money on it but alas only got $100.
A Fond memory of an old sailor and his first driving adventures in Canada.
Cheers the Irish rover.