On Thursday July 30th, 2020 I was interviewed at the Vancouver Police Department headquarters at 2120 Cambie Street. This was in realtion to another even of abuse that occured on Canadian Forces Base Namao.
So far my ratio with the CFNIS is 50/50.
P.S. went down in flames. I don’t think I’ll ever ascertain exactly why.
Sure, the Earl Ray Stevens matter didn’t end in prosecution, but it did convince a judge that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial in Ontario Superior Court.
Earl died of bladder cancer before we made it to court.
This new event involved a man in the sauna at the base pool on CFB Namao.
I did mention the man in the sauna to Sgt. Damon Tenaschuk in 2018. But at that point in time I didn’t have any idea of who this man was.
Back in 2011, when I decided that I was tired of being blamed for what had occured on CFB Namao, I inquired with the Edmonton Police Service how I would go about laying charges seeing as how the CF Military Police had twice previous stated that they couldn’t become involved becuase P.S. was a civilian at the time of the offences. In 2011 the matter got kicked on over to the CFNIS.
After my interview with Mcpl Hancock relating to the events involving my babysitter, I decided that I was going to also go after Earl Stevens, and then after Earl, I was going to go after a guy named A.M..
Out of five men from my childhood that I was sexually abused by, A.M. is the only civilian with absolutely no connection to the Canadian Armed Forces.
Sadly, the 2011 CFNIS investigation went off the rails right from the word go.
This would delay my complaint against Earl.
I can only wonder if the 2011 CFNIS investigation had been handled better and I had been able to make my complaint against Earl earlier would have been able to face him in court?
Looking back now, I know that my father’s statement to the CFNIS was a major contributing factor to the CFNIS running my complaint into the ground.
My father stated the following to the CFNIS in 2011:
1) We never had a babysitter on CFB Namao.
2) Our grandmother only looked after us for a very brief period of time.
3) Some random woman from across the street would keep an eye on my brother and I when he needed someone to look after us.
4) I only contacted him when I needed money.
Basically, the CFNIS concluded from my father’s statement that I was just some loser making up lies in an attempt to juice the Canadian Forces for money.
And this narrative also fit with an obvious desire within the DND and CF hierarchy to keep the spectre of child sexual abuse involving the Canadian Forces clergy dead and buried in the past.
In 2011, I had absolutely no idea that P.S. had sued the Department of National Defence, and that he had settled out of court with DND.
Even though I lived on Canadian Forces Base Namao during the P.S. / Captain Angus McRae affair, I had absolutely no idea of the true extent of what happened on that base from 1978 until 1980.
In the original 2011 CFNIS investigation the CFNIS made it very clear that they had evidence that there was no babysitter, and that there were various other inconsistencies with my story that just weren’t adding up.
You can bet your bottom dollar that someone up the chain of command knew about the settlement, knew about the recent events involving retired Canadian Armed Forces officer Brigadier General Roger Bazin, and came to the conclusion that it would help the Canadian Forces if I was a “societal malcontent with an axe to grind against the Canadian Forces”, and that I was doing this solely for money. And thus once my father made his statement, that sealed the deal and my complaint was dead.
No, you might say “Bobbie, how on Earth would an investigator with the CFNIS be able to link your complaint to an out of court settlement that occured many years before?”
At work, I’ve implemented a database program that all of my subordinates use to record their daily activities in the power plant.
I also have another database program that runs the preventative maintenance program that schedules the maintenance for the equipment in the plant.
All I have to do is type in plain English keywords into the search bar for these programs, and they will bring up the relevant results. The first program can even list the number of occurences for a specific search word, and indicate who wrote that particular entry.
The CFNIS use a program called SAMPIS. I was given a very brief explanation and demonstartion of the system by an investigator from the Office of the Infomation Commissioner when the OIC was reviewing a complaint of mine related to an Access to Information Request from the CF Provost Marshal.
SAMPIS is the record keeping system for the Canadian Forces Military Police and the CFNIS.
It has search functions.
So, there’s no doubt that SAMPIS will contain references to my fomer babysitter Mr. P.S.
I have absolutely no doubt that I am not the first military dependant to go after Mr. P.S. for his activities on CFB Namao or any of the other bases he lived on like CFB Petawawa.
When I spoke with the RCMP Constable in 2012, he did say that in addition to the three sexual assaults mentioned in an August 1985 Edmonton Journal article, Mr. P.S. had many more charges relating to child sexual assault from 1985 to 1999. How many of these charges were former military dependants?
Did a flag pop up on a computer when a CFNIS investigator in Edmonton keyed Mr. P.S.’s name into the system that directed the investigator to make contact with a superior officer or an officer in the Judge Advoate General’s office?
In 2006, the Canadian Armed Forces changed the policy for obtaining baptismal records for persons whom had been baptised as children on the various Canadian Forces Bases in Canada. The language in the memo specifially highlighted the concern of lawsuits being brought against the various archdiocese in Canada as being the driving force behind these changes.
So, I’m beginning to realize that my complaint against P.S. failed due to the perfect storm of circumstances beyond my control.
P.S. had just settled his civil action with the Department of National Defence
Roger Bazin had just been arrested and charged for molesting a young child on Canadian Forces Base Borden when Bazin was a chaplain in the base in the early 1970s.
Colonel Russell Williams had just brough massive disgrace to the Canadian Forces. What wasn’t stressed during Williams’ trialis that most of the underwear that he stole belonged to young adolescent girls. Also, Williams also had a sizeable kiddie porn collection on his computer.
Col Tim Grubb had just released a report highlight a “much higher incidence of sexual crimes against children in the defence community.”
And along come I alleging that Mr. P.S. had been abusing my brother, myself, and at least four other kids that I was aware of during the exact same time period that Captain McRae had molested well over 25 children on Canadian Forces Base Namao.
So, it was obvious to the brass within the Military Police Group that I was obviously just doing this for money.
And when they spoke to my father, they hit paydirt.
I’ll never know why my father said what he said.
My brother is convinced that pressure was applied to my father to get him to say what he said.
I don’t think that’s what happened.
Richard was extremely bull-headed. Unless he wanted to do something, you were never going to get him to do it.
Richard knew about the babysitter.
When things were going wrong in the PMQ on Canadian Forces Base Downsview, Richard would often cite what I had allowd the babysitter to do as being the cause of what was going wrong.
In 2006 when I had a telephone conversation with Richard, he named the babysitter all by himself, I didn’t have to prod him for the name.
In 2013, whenI examined him for Federal Court, he readily admitted that there had been a babysitter in the house, he futher clarified that it was his mother who hired him.
In 2006, Richard had pleaded with me to understand that it wasn’t him that hired the babysitter. It was his mother. He told her not to hire him, he told her he had bad feelings about the boy.
So, why did he tell the CFNIS in 2011 that we never had a babyistter?
Well, Richard died in January of 2017, so that’s an answer that we’ll never have.
In the school year of 1985 – 1986 I was in grade 8 at Pierre Laporte Junior High in what used to be North York, Ontario.
Active Surplus was a dealer down on Queen Street West between University and Spadina that sold new electronic components along with used surplus electronic equipment.
Active Surplus had just received a bunch of Pioneer Video Laser Disc players from New Way Sales. New Way Sales was a video game distributor that had been located up on Rexdale Blvd. New Way Sales was owned by brothers Paul and Jerry Janda.
The laser disc players had been removed from a bunch of Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace, Astron Belt, and other laser disc based arcade games that had been scrapped when they reached the end of their useful life.
Active Surplus was selling these for $50 a piece. I grabbed 10 of them. Bob Becker drove his cube van down and we loaded them into the van and drove them up to the base and brought them into the house.
I would eventually get 3 of these players working, but the rest I scrapped.
In reality I had bought these players for one reason, and that was for the laser tubes and the optics. Making them work for playing movies was never the goal.
The fact that I did get three of the players working probably indicated that I wasn’t quite as dumb as some people made me out to be.
Radio Electronics was a magazine that I used to buy from Coles bookstore downtown. Popular Electronics was the other. These two magazines were the primary source of my electronics education.
Both of these magazines always had projects to build. One project was a made from scratch power supply that would strike and arc in a 5mW helium neon laser tube, and then drop the current and voltage down to a safe level once the arc was established.
Each of these Pioneer laser disc players came with a 5mW Toshiba helium-neon laser tube, a collimator lens, two surface reflecting mirrors, and two surface reflecting mirrors mounted on voice coils.
The two surface reflecting mirrors mounted on voice coils were the tangential and radial correction mirrors.
The manner in which these two mirrors were mounted allowed them to scan in an x-y pattern with one mirror moving the beam in a horizontal direction and the other mirror moving the beam in a vertical direction.
Because they were moving a laser beam around, a tiny bit of movement of these mirrors would cause a significant amount of deflection of the beam.
The voice coil on these mirrors was 8 ohms. 8 ohms was the perfect impedence for just about any power amplifier at the time.
I built a small dual channel amplifier with 25 watts per channel. 25 watts was enough power to make the mirrors move fast enough, but not enough power to overheat the voice coils.
I could feed audio into the amplifier and have the laser project odd patterns on the wall to the beat of the music. I could feed the output of a function generator and have the laser generate shapes on the wall based on the type of waveform, the amplitude of the waveform, and the frequency of the waveform.
And I could also feed the x-y voltages from a Vectrex video game console into the amplifier and I could play video games on the wall.
Vectrex was an interesting game console from around 1982. It displayed graphics by actually drawing lines on the monitor tube as opposed to how conventional video games draw images. I won’t get too detailed, but think of games like Asteroids, Omega Race, Tempest, Major Havoc, Armor Attack, Space Fury, etc. These games had a very unique look due to the way the CPU drew the images on the screen. The Vectrex console drew x-y graphics as opposed to raster graphics.
Mr. Jonathan Bowles was my grade 8 science teacher.
The first couple of times that I had taken the laser to school and set it up in science class and just bounced the beam around the room he was more than impressed. But once I got the Vectrex interfaced with the laser, he was astonished. I could set the laser up in the cafeteria / auditorium of the school and project the Vectrex images on the screen.
The first time Mr. Bowles had talked to my father about the laser, Richard blew up at me at home.
“Why the fuck did you take that to school?”
“Do you know how much fucking trouble you’re going to get me into?”
“Why can’t you just be quiet in school, do the fucking work the teachers tell you to, and stop showing the fuck off, what is wrong with you?”
“Tell your teachers that I work during the day and to stop bothering me at work, I don’t have the time for their bullshit.”
The next science class, Mr. Bowles asked me if my father had spoken to me.
I asked about what.
Mr. Bowles said that my father seemed quite pleased that I was taking an interest in science.
By this time in my life I was begining to notice that my father would often say one thing at home, and then something completely different to other people.
As per my father’s instructions, I stopped taking my laser to school for science class.
Mr. Bowles had told me once that this laser was something that I should enter into the National Science Fair in Ottawa, and that he’d be happy to talk to my father about this.
I pleaded with Mr. Bowles to never call my father again, that my father was upset about the last phone call and that my father said that none of my teachers had better interrupt him at work,
Mrs. Donskov, my grade 7 music teacher from Elia Junior High had made somewhat a similar mistake. She saw that I could keep rhythm fairly well, and she suggested that I take up bass guitar. When she called Richard to suggest a local music shop that could finance a guitar if money was tight, he exploded.
So, Mrs. Donskov did the next best thing, she arranged for me to be able to take one of the school’s bass guitars and an amplifier home to practice on the weekends. She’d even go so far as to drop the guitar and amp off on Friday and pick it up on Monday. When Richard saw me carrying the guitar and Mrs. Donskov carrying the amplifier towards our house on Canadian Forces Base Downsview, he blew up. He threatened to have her arrested by the military police if she ever though of doing something stupid like this again.
Mrs. Donskov suggested that maybe my father could set me up with drum lessons from a local teacher. Nope.
And then there was Mr. Ford, my grade 8 music teacher from Pierre Laporte. This time Mr. Ford was convinced that I had a knack for sequencing music on the new MIDI control system.
Looking back, I know a few things about my father that help me to understand what his issues were.
The first issue that he had was his grade school education.
When I examined my father for Federal Court in the summer of 2013, I asked him what school he attended as a child. He put down St. John School, Fort McMurray, Alberta. I have yet to receive confirmation, but the school Richard named also shows up on a list of schools covered under the Indian Residential settlement program. The particular school my father attended is listed as inelligable for receving settlement funds solely due to the fact the school was only the Indian Day Program and it did not have the the residential component.
Richard was half Swampy Cree and half Irish. This made him a half-breed under government definition. And yes, that was the actual legal definition for people like my father. The federal government didn’t start using small “m” metis to describe people like my father until the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Indian Day Program was leaps and bounds behind the standard public school. The Indian Day Program was only meant to teach the kids that attended the absolute basics as the government of Canada didn’t think that these kids were going to become much more than farm labourers or manual labourers.
Was Richard’s experience in the Indian Day Program the reason why he despised my school teachers so much?
I think Richard’s experience in school as a child is what poisoned him towards my teachers and my counsellors.
Cost was another issue that my father often had.
As long as a program didn’t cost him anything, or cost him very little, he was all for it.
I could join Sea Cadets in 1984, because the Canadian Armed Forces basically picked up all of the costs associated with cadets. My uniform was free, my boots were free, parade night and weekend trips to CFB Borden were free. It didn’t cost him a single nickle.
A trip to Ottawa to enter my laser into the National Science Fair ? That would cost a lot of money. There’d be the cost of the hotel room. The cost of food. The cost of this, the cost of that.
Get me a computer capable of working with MIDI? Again, that would cost money, so that was out of the question.
Buy me a bass guitar and an amplifier and lessons? Christ, forget the lessons, just buy me a guitar and amplifier? Again, this would cost money so the answer would be no.
Paid professional drum lessons? Nope.
And as he told his buddy Jacque Choquette, the only reason that Richard kept my brother and I is so that he could control the costs.
Yes, it is true that Richard did get my brother and I season passes for Canada’s Wonderland for the 1983 season and the 1984 season. But these passes were $29.95 at the time for unlimited visits.
Canada’s Wonderland served, as my brother would say, Richard’s discount babysitting service.
Richard, or Sue, would drop me and my brother off at 08:00 just about every weekend and weekday that we weren’t in school with the exception of the summer we spent in Edmonton in ’84.
We’d each be given $10 for the day.
Let me tell you, $10 doesn’t go very far in an overpriced amusement park.
Richard or Sue would pick us up at 22:00 just after the park closed. We’d have to wait in the passenger drop off / pick up area.
The novelty of Canada’s Wonderland wore off for me really fucking quick. I used to find corners of that park where I could hide and go to sleep in order to pass the time.
It got so bad that I used to pray that I would get kidnapped and then Richard would have to explain to the police why he was dropping his kids off unattended at the park all day long.
This is one of the reasons I had to do a double take when I read Richard’s statement that he had given to the CFNIS in 2011. He claimed that the school wanted to go on a trip to Canada’s Wonderland, but that he didn’t want me to go because I had been bad, and that the school had threatened him that not letting me go could be considred “child abuse”. Fucking seriosuly? This is the guy who used Canada’s Wonderland like a “discount babysitting service”. So yeah, there definately was something wrong with Richard.
What exactly that problem is, I don’t think we will ever know.
During my July 30th 2020 interview with the CFNIS, as I read off my statement, a question kept popping up in the back of my head. If Richard was so disinterested in raising me, who did?
Of course, there’s my mother, but she only lived with me until I was 5.
After that, I saw her very sporadically. Two or three times tops until the summer of 1990 when I was invited by my father to move back to Edmonton with him. Marie was living on an acreage by Wabamun with her husband Art.
My uncle Doug showed up at our PMQ just after we moved back to CFB Griesbach. He brought his wife Yvonne and their new baby.
Doug took me aside and said that my mother was living on the outskirts of Edmonton, and that if I wanted to meet her, he could arrange a meeting, but that I could not tell Richard as Doug was afraid that Richard would go off the deep end.
Marie and I met at Northgate Mall in July of 1990. She definitely wasn’t what I remembered from when I was a kid. When I moved away from Edmonton unexpectedly in February of 1992 she had a major meltdown when I called her from Vancouver. We didn’t speak again until 2013 when I had to track her down to check on one of Richard’s responses to my Federal Court examination.
What struck me the most about her was her unchecked racism and her homophobia. She worked for the Alberta Report at the time. When I met her again in 2013 her racism was still as strong as ever. In a way I’m happy that I didn’t grow up with her. But at the same time Richard and Grandma were anything but a cakewalk themselves.
Racist and small-minded or psychologically unhinged and prone to anger outbursts……….. that was my choice for parents.
Doug also wanted me to get my metis papers, but even he said that he doubted Richard would agree to that as Richard would have to sign the papers.
My metis papers really wouldn’t be worth anything, other than to be able to say that I had first nation blood. And that’s about it. This is what Doug got his papers for. There would have been no tax benefits, or any other benefit similar to what a person with full status would have. I think Doug realized how much the Gill family tree had been shaped by the treatment of the First Nations. Richard resented his First Nations heritage.
I guess that outside of my grandmother, Uncle Doug would have been the first person outside of my immediate family that helped raise my brother and I.
Uncle Doug was more “behind the scenes” than my grandmother.
Even though my father and my uncle Doug grew up in the same household, there was a world of difference between Doug and Richard.
Richard, for lack of a better explanation, was an uptight asshole who wouldn’t know how to have fun if his life depended on it. Richard’s world was full of sarcasm, put-downs, disappointment, and lies.
Richard was also a very impatient man. Red lights, slow drivers, slow bank machines, line-ups, etc, would drive Richard batty.
Richard’s anger driving, which was only amplified when he got his 1983 Ford 5 Litre Mustang GT, is probably what scared me away from driving cars. Since I was 16 years old, I’ve only driven cars for 4 years in the last 33 years. I riden motorcycles for 6 out of the last 33 years.
When I was younger, I could often feel Richard’s rage living inside. Thankfully, the longer I was away from Richard, the more Richard’s toxic anger subsided. Nowadays I can ride my motocycle and feel none of Richard’s anger or rage.
Uncle Doug on the other hand was a “happy go lucky” kind of guy. Uncle Doug drank nowhere near as heavily as Richard or Grandma.
I don’t think I ever caught Uncle Doug lying. For that matter, grandma didn’t lie either. Where Richard got his penchant for lying is anyone’s guess.
And let’s be very clear. Richard didn’t tell little innocent white lies. He would tell such bald faced lies that you couldn’t help but wonder why no one questioned him on these lies. But I’ve learnt in this life that it’s often easier to not raise a fuss about lies and liars. Just ignore the lies, and don’t involve yourself with the liar any more. This might explain why Richard had so very few friends.
Remember, Richard was found to tell conflicing stories from one meeting to another, and he was also found to tell people that he perceived to be in positions of authority what he thought they wanted to hear.
Uncle Doug also didn’t have the anger or the temper that Richard had.
Richard and Uncle Doug were night and day different.
Doug worked up in the oil fields as a cook. He’d be out for 6 weeks and back for 2.
Uncle Doug lived in the basement of our PMQ on CFB Namao. He had a cot and a sleeping area set up in the corner of the basement.
Maybe it was because Doug had no expenses and was making good money in the oil patch that he wasn’t adverse to splurging on grandma, my brother, and me when he’d come back to town.
Grandma was a decent enough cook. Grandma is the one who got me addicted to HP Sauce, Lee & Perrins Worchester sauce. And it’s because of grandma that my eggs to this date aren’t complete without paprika on them. Richard could cook hamburger helper and Kraft dinner and just about anything from a can, but beyond that, he had no cooking skills.
Starting on CFB Griesbach, after grandma moved out, McDonald’s and KFC also became staples. Probably explains why I can’t even stomach the smell of those two places, let alone eat there.
I don’t think there’s a single cullinary tradition that I picked up from Richard.
Doug on the other hand could cook. When he was home from the camps it was steak dinner, pork chops, chicken, fresh fish, you name it.
As I found out in 2013, the presents that my brother and I received from our mother from 1977 until 1981 came from Doug and not from our mother. Sure, Marie had selected the gifts, but she didn’t have the money to buy the gifts, so Uncle Doug would by them for us on her behalf.
When we moved down to CFB Griesbach from CFB Namao, I inherited my grandmother’s old stereo system when Doug bought her a brand new one. Now, this wasn’t a cheap thing, it was a fairly decent system. Uncle Doug started me on my first record collection. Richard was stuck on country. Doug on the other hand was into just about everything. Big Band, the Beatles, Paul McCartney, Joan Jett, Henry Mancini, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristopherson, movie soundtracks, etc.
When we had our surpise move from CFG Greisbach to CFB Downsview, Richard threw all of my belongings into the trash. This was no doubt retribution for causing the family to have to relocate in order to avoid my apprehension by Alberta Social Services.
My paternal grandmother raised my brother and I from 1977 until 1981. In 1981 she moved out of our PMQ on CFB Griesbach and moved into her own apartment in Edmonton. I would have been just shy of my tenth birthday when she moved out. Grandma and Sue didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. The one nice thing about grandma moving out is that I never again had to step foot in a church. Sue said that if we didn’t want to go to church again, we didn’t have to.
Having an after school job at a young age wasn’t really that out of the ordinary considering what home life was like. The rule back then is we had to be out of the house unless it was supper time or bedtime. Richard didn’t have a lot of patience for listening to kids making any type of noise.
The food in the house was kept locked up. We could eat when we were fed. Outside of that, if I wanted to eat, the food was going to have to come from somewhere. So yeah, my after school and weekend jobs were for more than just my amusement.
After grandma moved out, my brother and I would be dropped off in the morning at the base daycare centre where we’d have to wait until it was time to go to school. As bad as things had been on CFB Namao, having to spend an hour every morning at the daycare centre until it was time for school was the ultimate in humiliation.
And yes, most of the kids at Major General Griesbach School knew that I was going to daycare in the morning even through I was in grade 4 at the time.
After school my brother and I would have to wait on the front stoop of the house until Richard and Sue got home from work. The first house key I would get was around 1986, after my bedroom had been moved into the basement on CFB Downsview. That would put me at about 14. In Edmonton in the middle of winter, sitting on the stoop could be damn cold. So it was easier to head over to the mall and stay warm. Other kids on the base knew who I was and what I had been caught doing with the babysitter on CFB Namao, so there weren’t too many homes that were friendly towards me on CFB Griesbach.
Looking back, I don’t ever remember any other kids on that base having to wait outside for their parents to come home. And looking back, the few friends that I did have weren’t allowed to come out and “play” on cold days.
Even after Richard and Sue came home, unless there was homework to do, it was out the door until supper, and then after supper it was out the door until bedtime. The weekends were much the same. Out the door first thing in the morning, come back for lunch, out until supper, out until bedtime.
And this wasn’t just the typical “playing outside is healthy for you” type of attitude. This was “I don’t care how goddamn cold it is outside, get the fuck out of the house and leave me alone” type of attitude. So yeah, it was better to get a job, no matter how young I was and no matter how menial the job was, as at least this would give me something to do.
And as allowances were something unheard of in Richard’s house, the only way I was going to get money was to earn it by working outside of the home.
When I read Richard’s statement to the CFNIS, I nearly choked. He told the CFNIS that I only called him when I needed money. Hell would have to freeze over before I’d ever call him for money.
As a kid I learnt of two things that I was never going to get from Richard. Admiration was one. Money was the other.
When we lived at Stanley Greene Park on CFB Downsview, he wouldn’t buy me a bus pass to get to school. Stanley Greene Park was close to Keele St. and Wilson Ave. Elia Jr, High was on Sentinel Road. Stanley Greene Park no longer exists, so I’ve used Downsview Secondary School as the start point as it was adjacent to Stanley Greene Park.
My counsellor was concerned about the distance that I had to walk, especially in the winter.
Richard didn’t care.
The program that I was involved in at Elia was unique to the North York Board of Education. It was for gifted students that were interested in technology.
By transferring to Pierre Laport, I was within walking distance, but I lost out on the technology immersion program.
All for the sake of a student bus pass. But that was Richard. That’s just the way the way it was.
And I think the more important aspect of these job, no matter how menial they were, is that they gave me a sense of purpose that was sorely lacking in my own home.
A simple “Thank you” goes a long way for a kid from a broken and dysfunctional home. Under no circumstance would Richard have ever thanked me for anything. I was 1000 times more likely to get a sarcastic putdown or verbal abuse than a simple acknowledgement or even a thank you for having done something.
None of the people that I worked for treated me anywhere like Richard did. They liked me. They liked the work I did. They appreciated me. This was something that Richard just wasn’t capable of.
There was Terry. Not Captain Terry Totzke. This Terry was the manager of a pet shop over in North Town Mall. I used to clean the cages and fish tanks. In return, Terry set me up with a fair-sized aquarium. I remember that he also paid me money, enough that I could buy a hot dog and orange drink a couple of times a week and still have money left over to play video games at the arcade in the mall. I would have been about 9 when I started this after school/weekend job.
Next up were the Casson family. Jackie, Bonnie, and Colleen Casson ran a small pizza shop in Kingsway Garden Mall called Pizza Plus. They also had a second location down in the Cadillac Fairview Centre in downtown Edmonton. I used to help out with washing pans, bringing supplies up from the storage rooms, and other menial tasks. The best thing about working for the Cassons was the food. I could have as many slices of pizza as I could handle.
I started working for the Cassons while I lived on Canadian Forces Base Griesbach, so I’m thinking the spring of 1982. I used to walk from the base at 97th Street and 137th Ave down to Kingsway Garden Mall at Kingsway and 109th. I worked for them from the spring of 1982 until the summer of 1985. I know that when I was in the Westfield program we went to a Boston Pizza shop on 118th Ave for a school trip to make pizzas. I already knew how to measure, cut and roll the dough, as well as how to prep the pan. Fun day. Jackie was the matriarch of the family. She had a house with a swimming pool.
I’m pretty sure that it was Colleen that had the Triumph TR-7 sports car. She’d take me for rides on the roads around Edmonton when Richard had sent me up to Edmonton for the summer of 1984 and 1985 while we were living on Canadian Forces Base Downsview in Ontario.
When Richard invited me to move back to Edmonton in June of 1990, one of the first places I went to visit was the Pizza Plus in Kingsway Garden Mall. The Cassons had sold off the business and were no longer involved with Pizza Plus.
When I lived on CFB Downsview in North York, I had gotten into the habit of dumpster diving in the industrial parks north of the base. I forget how I had discovered this, but there were a lot of electronic manufacturers up there and they would throw out heaps of electronic scrap. The perfect place for a kid like me with an interest in electronics to pick up bits and pieces for electronic projects.
One day I was going through the bin behind Colour Wheel Electronics. Colour Wheel was a distributor for the very illegal Quarter Horse gambling games. This was an interesting machine. I had seen these in the pool halls around the base. The old retired guys would pump quarter after quarter into these machines. These games had various pre-recorded horse races on a video laserdisc. When a race started the machine would playback different segments of different races so that the race would end with a random winner.
The owner of the company caught me going through his dumpster and asked me what I was doing. Zellman was his name. I told him that I was looking for electronic parts to build projects with. He asked me some electronics related questions, and I more or less gave him the answers that he liked. But he said that I was far too young to work for him, so he passed my name and phone number onto another company that might be able to let me work in their shop on the weekend in trade for parts and components.
The person he referred me to wasn’t interested, solely because being 13 I obviously couldn’t drive, and most of his work was out in the field. So this route operator passed my name on to another guy. The next guy was Vincent Chong. Vincent was a swimming coach at the University of Toronto, but he also ran a small video amusement company with a business partner named Ravi. I forget where Vincent lived, but Ravi lived over near Coxwell station north of the Danforth.
Vincent and Ravi had almost no technical skills between the two, so when I came along I was a godsend. Now, I won’t bullshit you. My electronic skills were self-taught. Even though my father was involved with avionics and other electronic trades in the Canadian Forces, I picked up bugger all from him. I did however have access to all of his Canadian Forces training manuals and McGraw-Hill books education books.
I also made frequent use of Radio Electronic and Popular Electronic magazines.
For clarification, Richard as smart as he was, wasn’t able to teach. To him, I was too fucking stupid. Or so he said.
In reality, he just didn’t have any type of parenting skills. His father had fled his family early on and grandma took Richard and Doug back to Fort McMurray in Alberta. And grandma also had bugger all of parenting skills. I guess the Residential Schools were so intent on beating the Indian out of the kids that they forgot to teach the kids how to function in society.
And Richard had no ability to pass on knowledge. If you asked him a simple question, and you didn’t understand his explanation, he would get greatly upset. So yeah, one learnt not to ask Richard anything. I was just much more peaceful that way.
While I was working for Vincent and Ravi, I became involved with Bob Becker. Bob owned two companies. One was Trans-American Construction, the other was Trans-American Video Amusements. I don’t know what Trans-American Construction did, but Trans-American Video Amusements was his video game route.
Bob had exclusive agreements with Hasty Market to place two video games into each store in the Windsor to Toronto corridor. Bob also had an exclusive agreement with Holiday Inn to place video games into all of the hotels from Niagara Falls to Oshawa. There were also other locations that Bob had, mainly convenience stores and donut shops.
Bob always wore tan khakis, a cowboy hat, and cowboy boots. Almost everyone called him the Jewish Cowboy. Bob never liked my father very much. Bob said that he couldn’t understand why my father wasn’t the least bit concerned that I would stay at the workshop until late at night and almost all day on the weekends. When I left school after the start of grade 9, Richard started charging me $200.00 rent for my bedroom. This blew Bob away. He couldn’t understand what Richard was doing.
Bob was upset that Richard didn’t seem to care that I wasn’t going to school anymore. Richard couldn’t understand that this wasn’t the 1960s anymore and that grade 8 drop outs couldn’t just walk into a 30-year military career.
Bob once got furious with my father. Bob said that after everything he had been through and after all that was taken away from him, here was my father, not showing an ounce of concern.
I never knew why Bob seemed to always get upset with my father.
It wouldn’t be until the summer of 1987 that I would discover the reason why Bob was upset with my father.
Bob had an agreement with the Canadian National Exhibition to supply video games to one of the pavilions during the CNE. We had already made two trips from the workshop down to the CNE and we were now on our third trip. Bob was wearing his long-sleeved Kahki top with undershirt like he always did. It had to be in the high 20s with a typical high Toronto humidity. I kept pestering Bob all day to put on something more appropriate least he die of heatstroke. Bob would get annoyed every time I asked him.
We had just turned off Keele Street and entered the collector lanes of the 401. We moved over to the express lanes. Once we were settled in the lane, Bob looked over at me and said, “ok smart ass, if I show you something will you stop telling me to put on a short-sleeved shirt?” I said “sure”. He looked at me again and he said “If I show you this, you keep it to yourself and you don’t tell anyone what you’ve seen, this is between you and me, understand?”
Bob grabbed the steering wheel with his left hand and used his right hand to unbutton his left cuff. He then rolled up his sleeve to his elbow.
Going to school in North York, we learned about World War II, Anne Frank, the Nazis, and the concentration camps. We learnt about how the Nazis tattooed the prisoners in the concentration camps. But I had never seen anyone in person with an actual concentration camp tattoo. And Bob had a concentration camp tattoo. That’s why he never wore short-sleeved shirts no matter how hot it got.
On the way down to the CNE Bob would explain that he was from Poland. Around 1940 his family had been rounded up and sent to the camps. When the Allies finally liberated the camps in 1945, he was 14. He was also the only survivor from his family. His parents and his brothers and sisters all died in the camps.
Bob said that this is what made him angry with my father. Bob had everything in his life torn away from him, and yet he still made sure that his daughter had everything she wanted and more. The fact that my father didn’t care just drove Bob around the bend.
By late 1987, I had started working for another video game company.
This company was a side business owned by three Toronto Police Service officers. Ed from Central Traffic Unit, Dirk from 14 Division, and Gary from 52 Division. There was a fourth partner, Bruce. Bruce wasn’t a police officer. Bruce had been Ed’s childhood friend when they grew up together in Montreal.
Ed, Dirk, Gary, and Bruce owned a company called Warlock Amusements that changed its name to Rainbow Games after they bought the Classic Billiards pool hall in the plaza across from Canadian Forces Base Downsview.
I had met Ed earlier in the summer of 1987 at a donut shop down on Bloor St. where he had been trying to install a paddle control into an Arkanoid video game. Ed had no idea what he was doing. So I introduced myself and wired the controller up for him. He asked me what I wanted for helping him. I asked for a carton of smokes, a black coffee, and a donut. He obliged me and took my phone number down.
I forget when exactly I started smoking. I know that I didn’t smoke in 1985 when Richard sent my brother and I up to Edmonton to spend the summer at our grandmother’s place. I’d have to say that I was smoking by the summer of ‘86. All I know is that my brother actually started smoking before I did.
Richard was okay with my smoking so long as I didn’t take his smokes. If he was out of smokes I was expected to share my smokes with him. We both smoked Player’s Extra Light. My brother smoked Du Maurier. Richard wouldn’t smoke Du Maurier no matter how bad of a nic-fit he was having. Richard’s helping himself to my smokes got so bad that I ended up switching to Player’s unfiltered just so he’d stop taking my smokes.
Around December of 1987 I got a call from Ed asking if I’d be interested in coming to work for him. Ed was the next person that I worked for that picked up on the fact that things weren’t right at home. The fact that I preferred sleeping in the shop overnight coupled with the fact that my father never once came looking for me told Ed that something wasn’t quite right.
Ed was on good terms with a few of the customers at the pool hall, and so he started asking around if anyone had a room for rent that I could move into. By January of 1988 I was out of the house and living on my own. It was a room in a four-bedroom house. The best thing was the rent here was $50 / month cheaper than what I was paying at home. Ed, Dirk, Gary, and Bruce were okay guys.
As soon as I moved out of the house, Ed took me to a notary public so that I could attest that I was living on my own and supporting myself. This was so that I could get my learner’s permit. Once I had my learner’s permit, I was allowed on occasion to drive the company pickup truck as long as someone else was with me. Ed would also teach me how to drive in his Hyundai Pony. After I got my license, Ed would send me on service calls in his car.
It would take a chapter all on its own for me to detail all of the exploits I went on at Rainbow Games.
But I will share two.
Ed was probably the first employer that picked up that I wasn’t into girls.
Rainbow Games had a juke box, a pair of coin operated pool tables and a couple of pinball machines in a strip club out by the airport near the 427 in Toronto. I had to go service one of the pinball machines. This was before I had my driver’s licence, so Ed gave me a drive. The club manager was adament that I was not coming in under any circumstance. A deal was made between Ed and the manager. I’d go in through the rear entrance, to the machine, service the machine, and then out of the club without catching even the smallest glimpse of flesh. The pinball machine was in a part of the club not anywhere near the stage. So the club manager was okay with this. Well, that night would end up being the first time that I had been bought a beer in a strip club. That night would also be the first time (and only time) that I ever had a private lap dance…….
Yeah, my lack of interest in the girls sealed the deal for Ed.
The next event was probably the one and only time that someone has ever kneed a police officer in the balls and walked away without being arrested.
One day at work, Ed told me that I had to go with Dirk down to Ciro’s Cafe on Bloor. Apparently there was a cockroach infestation and I had to pull out the jukebox and the two counter top video games. Dirk drove me down in the pickup truck. Instead of parking the truck, Dirk said that he was going to circle the block and when I brought the machines out he’d stop and we’d load the games and jukebox in the back of the truck. “Hurry up and be quick” was all he said.
I went in and removed the cash boxes from the machines and started splitting the money 60/40.
Julie, the owner of Ciro’s asked me what was going on, this wasn’t the usual collection day and it was Dirk that usually did the collections.
I told her that Ed said we had to pull the machines out because of the cockroach infestation.
Julie looked puzzled and said that her pest control contract was up to date and that the last inspection showed nothing for cockroaches.
I told her to call Ed, maybe he knew what was up.
I finished counting the coins and gave Julie the location’s 40% of the cashbox total.
I unplugged the Ms. Pac-Man countertop and picked it up. I walked backwards towards the inside door and pushed it open with my back. Julie reached past me to hold the door. As I moved backwards towards the outside door, the smile disappeared from Julie’s face and was replaced by a look of terror. I felt the door being pulled open. Somebody yelled “14 DIVISION, THIS IS A RAID”. As the first police officer squeezed past me I felt the butt of his rifle crush into my crotch.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that crushing pain. I was down in the vestibule of the restaurant as more officers poured into the restaurant past me. There were the obligatory kicks as the officers rushed past. After the officers finished rushing into the restaurant I tried crawling out the front door. I was quickly grabbed by one of the officers and dragged back into the restaurant. I was pushed up against the front window and told to spread my arms and legs and not to move.
I watched as Dirk drove by pretending not to see what was going on.
After I was released I caught the Keele bus back up to the poolhall.
The pickup truck was in its normal spot. Ed’s Hyundai Pony was there. Bruce’s Hyundai Elantra was there too. Dirk’s Grand National wasn’t. I guess Dirk didn’t want to face up to the fact that he knew a drug raid was going down.
I walked downstairs.
Ed was behind the counter, he looked at me and said that I should have been in and out of Ciro’s faster than I was.
Bruce was sitting on his stool with his typical shamed puppy dog expression on his face.
I walked behind the counter and walked past Bruce and walked right up to Ed.
Before Ed could say anything, my right knee found his nutsack.
Ed was tall. I was a short kid. I was shorter than my father. I was even shorter than my younger brother. I would peg Ed as having been around 6’2″.
Ed fell to the ground grabbing his crotch.
Bruce nearly fell off his stool. “Bob, you better get the hell out of here before Ed gets his hands on you”.
Ed moaned “Nope, I deserved that. We shouldn’t have sent him down there. It’s my fault”. That was the first time in my life that anyone had every admitted that they fucked up and put me in danger. If this had been Richard, Richard would have blamed me for being stupid and having fucked things up like I usually did.
Dirk would never own up to who told Ed about the impending drug raid at Ciro’s.
Ed explained to me later that he wanted his machines out of Ciro’s as he knew the 14 Division drug squad was going to tear the machines apart in the quest to find hidden drugs stashed inside the machines.
And true enough, none of the machines were repairable. We scrapped them all for parts.
So that was the one and only time that I floored a cop with a knee to the nuts.
To be honest, that’s the only time in my life that I ever floored anyone.
As I said, I could write a whole chapter of my exploits at Rainbow Games with Ed, Bruce, Dirk, and Gary.
Ed had a friend named Marcia Cash. Marcia used to work for Tom at T.W. Gilchrist, a pool table and juke box distributor in Toronto. Anyways Marcia had moved up to Timmins Ontario to live with her boyfriend Barry Weiss. Barry owned A-1 Taxi and Amusements. Marcia asked Ed if Barry could “borrow” me for the summer of 1989.
I spent the late spring / summer of 1989 in Timmins Ontario helping Barry with his amusement company.
Barry had an agreement with the Minister of Northern Affairs to places videos games, juke boxes, and pool tables on the Indian reserves on James Bay. The machines were set to free-play and Barry was paid a flat fee for providing the machines and servicing them.
And that’s what I spent six weeks doing. Jumping from one reserve to the other, servicing the equipment, swapping equipment from one reserve to the next.
I moved juke boxes on the gunwales of canoes. I moved pool tables in bush planes.
I ate pemmican.
I was shocked to see the extreme poverty on the reserves.
I would often stay with the chaplain on the reserve, or with one of the senior band members.
On one reserve, the chaplain asked me if I could fix his ATV that wouldn’t start. The carburetor was all gummed up with bad gasoline. I cleaned out the carb and the fuel tank, filled it up with fresh gasoline, and it ran.
I was allowed to take the ATV out for a ride. I disappeared for about 5 or 6 hours. Basically went down one trail, parked the ATV, and then went exploring in the woods around James Bay.
It was quiet and peaceful. No cars. No noises. No nothing.
When I arrived back at the reserve, the chaplain was upset. He thought that I had wasted the tank of gas. I explained the the chaplain that I only went about 30 minutes down the trail, parked the quad and the walked on foot for a few hours. The chaplain said that he was relieved as gasoline was hard to get shipped to the reserves, and gasoline was very expensive. He was much releived to find the tank close to where it was after I filled the ATV up after having fixed it.
I had another job that started in the winter on 1990 and lasted until June of 1990. A 5 month contract with a company called Canshare Cabling. The contract was to wire up the Sears Catalogue Stores for the new computer system Sears was installing.
$15.00/hr x 60 hrs per week + $600/wk travel expenses, no receipts required meant that I had a lot of money in the bank come June of 1990.
When the job was over and I returned to Toronto, Richard discovered how much money I had, hence the invitation to move with him back to Edmonton for his final posting under the guise of “trying to be a family again”.
I honestly should have stayed in Toronto.
The move from CFB Downsview in Toronto to CFB Griesbach in Edmonton will be for another blog post.
But yeah, for the most part these are the people who raised me and the experiences that shaped my life.
I’ll probably touch on my school teachers in a different post.
All I can say is that I guess I’m lucky that I didn’t have to rely on Richard for my life lessons.