Reasons to Emigrate
In 1968, at the age of 31, I emigrated to Canada to start a
second seagoing career and to marry my wife Carol in 1969.
Carol was born in the UK but had lived in Canada for 24 years by
I had been in the Merchant Navy for 14 years - serving with the same
company first as a Cadet and, by then, Chief Officer on their cargo
liners. It was a wonderful company to work for and I had dreams of a
single career with that company ending as Captain of one of their
By 1968, it was clear that this dream would not be fulfilled, at
least not in ships that had long stays in ports that allowed you get
to know people and places. Shipping was becoming more about
minimizing time in port, larger and fewer ships and keeping costs
down. There appeared to be less chance of ever becoming a captain
and the majority of time was spent watch keeping. This was not for
An Ability to Adapt
One thing my Merchant Navy time did was cure me of the pain of
leaving home that emigrants usually suffer. This pain, for me at
least, was the feeling of being an outsider (dare I say a DFL) when
home on leave. I think being out of tune with nuances of your
friends lives coupled with the different perspective on life
seagoing gives you were the root causes of this pain.
A Coast Guard Career in Canada
Prior to leaving for Canada , as a condition of being accepted as a "Landed
Immigrant", I had applied for and obtained a job with the
Canadian Coast Guard starting as Relief Third Officer in Dartmouth,
I flew by Douglas DC8 to Halifax, Nova Scotia. on the 18th July 1968
and, on the 20th July, was sailing to the Arctic on the Coast Guard
ship "Narwhal" as 3rd Officer to re-supply
Arctic villages and DEW Line stations, a 3 month trip. (Note: Dew
Line means "Distant Early Warning" line. It was a line of
radar stations set up around the arctic circle during the Cold War
in order to provide early warning of any Soviet air attack ).
So began a 28 plus year second career with Coast Guard which, in
seamanship terms, could be best described as "Now for
something completely different". Whereas, in the Merchant
Navy you kept well away from all hazards, the requirement of the
Coast Guard operations (placing buoys, breaking out and escorting
ships in ice and performing rescues in usually less than ideal
conditions) was by definition putting you close to hazards. My
dreams of being captain were realised by 1972 on smaller ships and,
eventually, on the larger icebreakers.
In the early 80,s I started on a series of shore based jobs within
Coast Guard ending up in charge of the Western Region operations
and, at the very end, for variety, looking after the operational end
of picking up a sunken loaded oil barge on the east coast.
And No Regrets...
My second career was equally as enjoyable as the first and
allowed me to fulfill my seagoing dreams and also to live in various
parts of this huge and wonderful nation (Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland/Labrador, Ontario and British Columbia).
I became a
citizen in 1974 which, besides marrying Carol, is smartest thing I
I have no regrets and hope to spend many more years in retirement
here in Victoria where I can do all the outdoor things I love in
relative comfort all year and continue to strive to keep my mind's
age at least 30 years younger than the calendar says.