Okay, so my family tree on the maternal side of my family just got a little more detailed.
I was contacted last week by the stepdaughter of Jean-Yves Dagenais.
Jean-Yves Dagenais is my uncle. He’s the younger brother of my mother.
Albert Lawrence Dagenais was my other uncle. I knew Uncle Al. When Richard’s violence and drinking flared up while we were living on Canadian Forces Base Summerside in PEI it was Uncle Al that my mother wanted to take my brother and I to stay with while she figured out what to do with Richard. Al died in 2017.
One thing that I didn’t know about Al is that he was only in the Canadian Forces for about 7 years before he left the military and went into private industry. I guess Al wasn’t trapped by the Canadian Forces. My father, outside of the Canadian Forces, had absolutely no prospects on civy street.
Richard and Al both joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1963. That’s how they met.
1963 + 7 = 1970
October 23rd, 1969 was the date of the HMCS Kootenay gear box explosion which was the “worst peacetime incident” in the history of the Royal Canadian Navy.
When I met Chris Legere in Halifax in 2014 he said that a lot of men fled the navy in the aftermath of the Kootenay. I wonder if Al decided that enough was enough.
On the maternal side of my family we have:
Albert Joseph Dagenais – maternal grandfather (???? – 1974) *Marie would have been about 27 when her father died.
Alma Zong Dagenais (possibly Alma Mary Viola Zong) – maternal grandmother (1920 to 1961) *Marie would have been about 14 when her mother died.
Albert Laurent Dagenais – older uncle
Marie Annette Jacqueline Dagenais – mother
Jean-Yves Dagenais – younger Uncle.
One interesting thing that Jean-Yves’ stepdaughter indicated to me is that my mother’s name “Marie Annette Jacqueline Dagenais” does not appear in Uncle Al’s obituary.
I don’t know what the story was, but I picked up that something wasn’t right when I tracked Marie down in late 2013 and talked to her about some of the answers that Richard had given to me when I examined him for Federal Court.
She talked about Uncle Al, but she didn’t have much to say about Jean-Yves.
She talked about her mother, but she wouldn’t say anything about her father other than he had been in the Royal Canadian Navy and that’s why Uncle Al joined the navy.
Jean-Yves’ stepdaughter said that there were issues in the Dagenais household with the patriarch Albert Joseph, but she wouldn’t say what.
What is odd though is that my medical records state that I was admitted to the IWK Children’s Hospital as a “border” due to the recent death of Marie’s father and that she was having a difficult time.
When I found out in 2019 that my father had died in 2017 I didn’t care. In fact, I felt relieved. I’m not sure if Marie is still alive or not. And I’m honestly not sure if I would be upset to find out that she has died. When you think about it, she’s had my phone number and address for 8 years now and she hasn’t called or written once.
In knew about Lawrence Dagenais from when I talked to Marie in December of 2013. She said that we often played together on CFB Shearwater, but I can’t remember him. I can remember playing with Jennifer and Kimberly, and a boy named Trevor, but I can’t for the life of me remember Lawrence. I didn’t realize that Uncle Al had other children as well. There’s Vincent, Cynthia, Suzanne, and Ellen. According to Marie, Lawrence Dagenais is 2 days older than I am. We were both born in the Salvation Army’s Grace Maternity Hospital.
One thing that I’ve learnt in the last ten years of dealing with the ghosts from CFB Namao is that my family was defective long before Richard married Marie. One other thing that I’ve also come to realize is that there’s nothing odd about this. Dysfunctional families are a dime a dozen. That’s why every city in this country has a children’s aid society or a social services system.
In Canada in 2011, there were over 47,000 children in the foster care system.
I was supposed to have been placed into foster care in 1983 except that my father was able to evade Alberta Social Services by obtaining a posting from the Canadian Armed Forces which allowed him to move out of the jurisdiction of Alberta. So I have no doubt that the 47,000 number is on the low side, and I don’t mean from military families, but due to all families that no doubt have a way to stay a step or two ahead of the local social services. In Ontario my family was supposed to have been placed under the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto full time, but according to my paperwork from Children’s Aid, budgetary matters and staffing concerns meant that Children’s Aid would only have placed my brother and I into care had there been complaints from the neighbours about abuse or neglect. But living on a Canadian Forces base meant that there would be no complaints.
I know that my father had parenting issues due to his mother’s issues.
It’s obvious that my mother had parenting issues due to her own family issues.
It’s probably a good thing that I’m not reproducing.
At least this way I can save humanity from another generation of defective Gill genes.
Just shaking the family tree to see what falls out.
Back in early 2019, I sent an email to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. I was looking for any morsel of information that would show that my grandmother, Margret Anderson as I knew her, had in fact gone to Holy Angels residential school in Fort Chipewyan.
When I examined my father for Federal Court in 2013 he stated that his mother had gone to Holy Angels in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.
When grandma was raising my brother and I her surname was Anderson. She had been married three times in her life that I am aware of.
She was first married to a man whom I’ve yet to find out the name of. This man was either Cree or Blackfoot. This marriage produced my Uncle Norman. Norman died around 1985. This marriage was over by at least 1944 / 1945
Her second marriage was to Arthur Herman Gill. Arthur was Irish. This marriage produced my father Richard, as well as Doug, my uncle. This marriage did not last very long.
Her third marriage was to Andy Anderson. I don’t believe this marriage produced any children.
After sending in the information, I didn’t hear back from the NCTR and just assumed that maybe the school records at these schools weren’t easily searchable or just couldn’t be located.
Last week I received an email message from the NCTR asking if my mailing address was correct.
On Tuesday September 1st, I received my grandmother’s admission record for Holy Angels Indian Residential School in Fort Chipewyan, AB.
Even though I knew this information was coming to me, it was still shocking to see this information in black and white.
Contained in the record was her father’s name, her mother’s name, and her date of birth.
My paternal great grandfather was Modeste Waniandy.
Modeste as I’ve learnt elsewhere was born in 1884 in Lac St. Anne, Alberta. He was a hard rock miner and he died in 1969 in Uranium City, Saskatchewan.
My paternal great grandmother was Caroline Waniandy nee Courtrelle.
My grandmother was born in 1923.
With a quick check of the Library and Archives I was able to find the 1926 Census for the Prairie region.
In 1926 Modeste and Caroline were living in the settlement of Fort McMurray.
Modeste Waniandy was 31 in 1926
Caroline Waniandy was 24 in 1926.
The census indicates that Modeste and Caroline had 3 children.
George Waniandy was the eldest at 9 at the time of the census in 1926
Marguerite Waniandy was the middle child at 4 in 1926
Johnnie Waniandy was the youngest child at 13 months in 1926.
George Waniandy died in WWII on August 31st 1944
My grandmother was 12 years old when she started school. She was enrolled on Oct 3rd, 1935. She was also going by the name Margaret at this time.
It doesn’t say what grade she was placed into, but from what I’ve been told grades didn’t matter much in the Residential Schools. The kids weren’t going to these schools for an education. The kids were going to these school to get the Indian beat out of them. She was apparently student #867.
Whatever education she received couldn’t have been much as she left school in March of 1938 at 14 years of age.
In 1985, my brother and I had been sent up to Edmonton to spend the summer with our grandmother. I remember watching her write a letter, and she would effortlessly switch back and forth between using her left hand and her right hand.
Year previous, when we lived up on Canadian Forces Base Namao, I begged my grandmother to teach me how to write cursive. I was 8 years old and I could handwrite far better than I could print.
In 1985, I pestered my grandmother to teach me how to switch hands so that I could write with my left hand too.
After much pestering she asked me if I wanted her to beat me like the nuns had beat her to make her stop writing with her left hand.
I didn’t understand what she meant, and she never explained it any further.
But nowadays we all know the hell on Earth that those residential school could be.
Both Richard and Grandma rarely spoke about our extended family.
So, it will be interesting seeing what else I can dig up.
And I know ever less about the maternal side of my family.
All I know about the maternal side of my family is that my mother is Quebecois and was from Hull in Quebec.
I don’t even know the names of my maternal grandparents.
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.
Every now and again I get weird phone calls related to my blog. The funny thing is, I haven’t really put my phone number out there.
Every now and again I get weird phone calls related to my blog. The funny thing is, I haven’t really put my phone number out there.
I don’t know who this person is, “unknown” number. But they sure had an interest in my blog postings about the MPCC.
This guy was adamant that when I made my complaint to the MPCC that I would have been allowed to view the CFNIS paperwork.
No matter how I explained to him that I did not see the CFNIS investigation paperwork until February of 2013 he wouldn’t believe me.
“What made you think that something was wrong with the investigation if you didn’t see the investigation paperwork” he asked.
I explained to him that my babysitter had his first criminal conviction for child molestation in 1984, two more convictions in 1985. And nine more convictions between 1985 and 2000. And for PO Morris to tell me on November 4th, 2011 that the CFNIS couldn’t find anything that would indicate that P.S. was capable of molesting the children he was babysitting, meant that something went wrong. I already knew about the $4.3 million dollar lawsuit between P.S. and the Minister of National Defence.
The caller interjected that just because P.S. had criminal convictions for child sexual abuse starting in 1984, this in no way automatically means that P.S. was guilty of molesting children prior to 1984. And to be fair to the mystery caller, my brother said the same thing to me back in 2013.
I explained to the mystery caller that if someone was convicted of raping a woman, and their modus operandi happened to match the modus operandi of the perpetrator in a couple of previous rapes that occured when this particular person happened to live in the vicinity of the two previous victims, you can be sure that the police would look into these matters. Sure, the similar modus operandi doesn’t mean that the three rapes were committed by the same person, but by the same token you don’t just discount any possible connection because they happened prior to the current conviction.
The mystery caller asked me why I didn’t bring this to the attention of the MPCC. I asked in response how could I when I had absolutely no idea what was done during the CFNIS investigation.
The mystery caller asked me if I was so certain that my father lied in his statement to the CFNIS why didn’t I say something to the CFNIS or the MPCC.
I tried to explain to the mystery caller that at no time during the 2011 CFNIS did the investigators ever ask me about anything my father had said to the CFNIS.
You would think that if someone said that they had been repeatedly molested for 1-1/2 years by a person acting as a babysitter, and then someone else countered and said that there never was a babysitter, that the investigators would want to follow up with the victim to understand this significant discrepancy. At no point in time in 2011 did the CFNIS ever call me to ask if I was certain that there was a babysitter.
The mystery caller then said that I should have told the MPCC about the lies in my father’s statement.
Again, I tried to expain to the mystery caller that I had no access to my father’s statement until 2013. By the time I read my father’s statement it was far too late to contest it. The CFNIS had my foster care records. I gave them a complete copy in August of 2011. They refused to consider them at all during the investigation. That means the CFNIS willfully ignored such things as:
Mr. Gill frequently contradicts himself from one meeting to the next.
Mr. Gill tells those he perceives to be in positions of authority what he believes they want to hear.
Mr. Gill brought his mother into the house to raise his children.
Mr. Gill uses work as an excuse for his frequent absences as a reason to not attend the family counselling sessions.
Robert was in the protective custody of Alberta Social Services and Mr. Gill had signed the paperwork placing Robert into the foster care system.
Mr. Gill told both Alberta Social Services and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto that there was nothing wrong with his children, that the intense sibling rivalry between his two sons was just “boys being boys” and that the counsellors were no help at all.
The mystery caller was adamant that if this was in my foster care records, that the would have picked up on this.
I told the mystery caller that my father’s statement gave the CFNIS exactly what they wanted. According to my father, there was no babysitter in the house and that’s all the CFNIS needed.
I told the mystery caller that during the 2011 CFNIS investigation I was told repeatedly by the CFNIS investigators that there was no house fire at PMQ #26 on 12th street in the summer of 1980. It was suggested to me by various persons with the CFNIS in 2011 that the fire I was thinking of occured on 1986 and happened on CFB Griesbach, and that if I was wrong about this fire, maybe I was wrong about other things too. Maybe the babysitter didn’t molest my brother and I. Maybe it was a man who lived off the base. Maybe I was making this up.
The mystery caller wanted to know why I didn’t raise this with the MPCC if I was so certain that there was a fire.
I told the mystery caller that even though I was certain that there was a fire in the P.S. houseat #26 – 12th street that I had no proof that there actually was a fire. It was my word against that of the Canadian Armed Forces……. and why would the CF or the CFNIS lie about the fire? Again, it wouldn’t be until February of 2013 when I obtained the certified tribunal records that I would learn that the CFNIS had the Canadian Forces Fire Marshal records for the June 23rd, 1980 fire at PMQ #26 on 12th street and they knew that I had told the truth about the fire.
I really wish I knew who the mystery caller was.
Is he a member of the Canadian Forces, or maybe a reited member?
Is he another former military dependant that’s upset with the way that I’m slandering the Canadian Forces.
Other than the fact that his name was Richard Wayne Gill and that he was in the Canadian Armed Forces, I honestly can’t tell you anything about my father.
I know he worked with the Sea Kings out in Shearwater.
I know that he worked on the Argus aircraft at Summerside
I know he worked on the Chinooks at 447 SQN at Namao
I know he worked as a quality control inspector for the Canadian Armed Forces at LItton Systems inspecting the then controversial Cruise Missile when we first arrived at CFB Downsview in Ontario.
I know he did a short stint at DCIEM on Downsview
I know that he worked at 4900 Yonge Street “flying a desk” as he always called it.
I wouldn’t find out until 1985 that he was in the navy before the air force.
I wouldn’t find out until 2013 the names of the ships he served on.
I don’t honestly remember much of him on Shearwater, he was frequently away.
I don’t remember much of him on Summerside, again he was frequently away.
I don’t remember much of him on Namao.
And he wasn’t around that often on Griesbach.
As a kid I never went to a single hockey game, football game, or even baseball game with him. It’s not that I didn’t want to. He just never took us.
Derek’s father often took him to see the Oilers and Northlands.
Trevor’s father was an Eskimo’s fan, and they frequently went to games.
We lived in Edmonton when the Oilers were the kings of the NHL. And not once did we ever go see a game.
Richard loved the Toronto Maple Leafs, and yet we never attended a single game while we lived on Canadian Forces Base Downsview. And this is the guy who would yell and scream at the TV while watching Leafs games. He would become so fixated on hockey games that you didn’t dare interrupt him while he was watching. He would become very irate if you bothered him while a game was on.
I once made the mistake of asking Richard for a ride to go to a place where I was working while a hockey game was on. He was so enraged by this that he ended up rear ending a Jaguar car at an intersection on Don Mills Road.
The first time I ever I went to a football game was the summer of 1984. Grandma took my brother and I to an Edmonton Eskimos football game on a couple of occassion. She scored some tickets from the Bissell Centre in Edmonton where she volunteered.
But not once in my entire childhood can I ever recall going to anytype of event with Richard.
Cadets nights? Nope.
School performances? Nope.
Sure, my mother didn’t do any of those things either, but she left when I was 5 years old.
My stepmother Sue? We weren’t her kids, so I wouldn’t expect the same from her as I would from Richard.
Even social services noted in 1982 that there didn’t appear to be anything our family did together.
When grandma moved in with us at CFB Summerside she enrolled me into Sunday bible school. She also put me into Beavers which was held at the Knights of Columbus hall. For that matter she got us involved with the Knights of Columbus.
In the spring of 1978 my grandmother returned to Edmonton to be with her husband. My father obtained a compasionate posting to CFB Namao to be close to his mother so that she could look after my brother and I.
When grandma moved into the PMQ on Namao, I was placed into Beavers. Grandma got me on the base hockeyteam for kids my age called the CFB Squirts. I played basketball on the Knickerbokers. I was enrolled into the Red Cross swimming program. I was also in the YBC youth bowling program. I had first communion at the chapel.
In 2013, I examined my father for Federal Court. Here are a pair of questions that I asked of him:
These were his answers:
Once we moved to CFB Grisbach, grandma had very little input into our lives.
She moved out in the spring on 1981.
I know that Richard took Captain Totzke’s suggestion to heart that I shouldn’t be allowed in changerooms with other boys as I might not be able to control myself. Captain Totzke had the idea that what happened on CFB Namao between 8 year old me, and the 14 year and 11 month old babysitter was due to “homosexuality” that I was apparently exhibiting.
It wasn’t that I didn’t show any interest.
On Griesbach, there was no more hockey, definitely no more swimming, no basketball, no cubs. Nothing.
This was my punishment for me having sex with P.S..
My younger brother didn’t have the involvement I had with Captain Terry Totzke.
Why Richard didn’t put my younger brother into any of those programs?
Richard had no interest.
I honestly don’t think it was the cost involved. We were a military family and I know that bowling, hockey, basketball, and swimming would have cost almost next to nothing. I know there were no fees for swimming. And I know there were no fees for skating. Bowling I think was dirt cheap, less than a quarter a string. Even the movies were dirt cheap at the base cinema.
Grandma was that one who would always take me to hockey. And even though her arthritis would limit her ability to tie my skates, she wouldn’t have any issue with coaxing the other fathers to tie my skates.
Richard just didn’t have the interest.
When I joined Sea Cadets in 1984, it was because a friend of mine from Elia Jr. High got me interested.
I was sure that Richard wasn’t going to allow this.
But after John Potter confirmed to my father that there was no cost, that the uniforms and all equipment were free, and that there were no fees to join, Richard allowed me to join.
But yeah, Richard never came to a single parade night or other cadet related function.
Seeing as how Richard died back in January of 2017, we’ll never get to know the truth about his interview with the CFNIS on June 9th 2011.
This interview was conducted with Sgt. Cyr of the CFNIS. Yes, the same Sgt. Cyr who claimed that he flew down from Edmonton, AB and met with me in Victoria, BC.
Yes, the same Sgt. Cyr that couldn’t remember asking me if I knew anything about Captain Father Angus McRae being arrested for molesting children on CFB Namao.
Yes, the same Sgt. Cyr that failed to mention anything about my emails that detailed my visits to the chapel with P.S. to see Captain McRae.
Yes, the same Sgt. Cyr that told me that P.S. was 13 years old when he was caught buggering me in the spring of 1980.
Yes, the same Sgt. Cyr that told me that the church that I indicated to him in an email was a brand new church on the base and that the church that was on the base when I lived there was in a completely different location.
We know that Sgt. Cyr plays fast and loose with the truth.
Richard however also had his own versions of the truth as well.
And as I’ve learnt over the last few years, even if the investigator doesn’t actually have bad intentions, a bad “hunch” can cause the investigator to come down with a case of “tunnel vision” which is sure to run even the best cases off the rails. Take for example the case of “Marie Adler” from Lynnwood, Washington. She had been raped at gunpoint in her apartment. But the police right from the word go latched on to little trivial inconsistencies in her statement. The police also put far too much weight on the personal opinions of her foster parents. The police intimidated “Marie” to the point that she recanted her statement and agreed with the police that she had made the entire story up. The police ended up charging Marie with making a false report. She was fined by the city of Lynnwood and sentenced to probation. The only problem for the police was that about three years later, as the result of an investigation into a string of sexual assaults in another state, the FBI uncovered pictures of “Marie” that had been taken while she was being raped. The pictures pretty well matched what she had said in her initial statements to the police. The city of Lynnwood settled with her for $150k. Her lawyer suggested they could get more. But all she wanted was the apology and $150k was enough for her to get away from Lynnwood and to start over someplace else.
I’m probably cutting the CFNIS too much slack on this. After all, the CFNIS were bound and determined right from the start to not allow the connection between P.S. and Captain Father Angus McRae to be noted anywhere in the official investigation.
Was Richard taken out for a coffee and donut before he gave his statement to the CFNIS? You know, just so that Richard could be made to understand how I obviously had an agenda to screw the military over for money, and that it would be great if Richard could help set things straight for them.
According to the CFNIS “Pre-Charge Screening Report” this is what my father told Sgt. Cyr during his interview.
This is pretty well the same paragraph contained in the tribunal records that were submitted to me.
Actually, here is my father’s entire statement to the CFNIS:
Item (a) When Richard was posted to Edmonton in 1978, we resided on CFB Namao from 1978 until 1980. We then moved from CFB Namao in October of 1980 and arrived at CFB Greisbach. I can only wonder if it was Richard or if it was Cyr that intentionally stayed away from using the name CFB Namao. CFB Edmonton was comprised of two separate bases. CFB Namao was the air force base, and CFB Greisbach was the army base. CFB Namao was also where P.S. resided and where Captain Father Angus McRae resided. CFB Namao was not called CFB Edmonton, nor was CFB Greisbach called CFB Edmonton. CFB Edmonton was used for referring to both bases, but each base retained its individual name. Make sense? Thought so. But yes, the fact that CFB Namao was not mentioned in my father’s statement struck me as odd.
Item (c) I talked to my father in August of 2006 about the babysitter. My father knew the babysitter’s name. My father at the time pleaded for me to understand that it wasn’t his fault that the babysitter was looking after my brother and I. My father pleaded with me to understand that the babysitter had been hired by our grandmother. Therefore it was grandma’s fault obviously. Richard said that he had warned his mother about the babysitter, but she wouldn’t listen to him.
Item (g) Grandma came to live with us at CFB Summerside in PEI. Her and her husband, Andy Anderson, moved into the PMQ on CFB Namao when we moved there in the summer of 1978. Andy Anderson was my father’s step father. Andy didn’t die until sometime early 1985. Andy Anderson, due to a slip and fall in the bathtub, was hospitalized from winter of 1978 until his death in 1985. The long bus trips into the city is why Grandma would hire P.S. as our babysitter when she went to visit Andy in the nursing home. Grandma lived with us from 1978 until 1981. We stayed with grandma in Edmonton over the summer of 1984 and 1985. After Andy died in 1985 we never went to see grandma again. But then again she died in early 1986.
Richard’s actual father lived in Oshawa, Ontario. We visited him for Christmas of 1982. I don’t know when Richard’s father died, as Richard and his father had a very icy relationship. Even when we moved to CFB Downsview in 1983 we never went to see Richard’s father in Oshawa. We would frequently visit Sue’s parents and brothers in Oshawa. We’d often go shopping for groceries at Knob Hill Farms in Oshawa. But other than the visit at Christmas in 1982, we never did go visit Richard’s father again. And to be clear, Richard’s father only lived about 10 blocks away from Sue’s parents.
If I had to hazard a guess, there was no “neighbour” across the street on CFB Namao. Why would we need a neighbour when our grandma was living with us? And what neighbour is going to “keep an eye” on his kids when Richard goes away on a six week training exercise to the arctic? The million dollar question is, did Richard imagine this woman across the street, or was it suggested to Richard that it would help if he remembered the babysitter as NOT having looked after my brother and I. Remember, the CF up to this point had actively been scrubbing any mention of Captain McRae from the investigation.
Item (g). So far as Richard and any of my school teachers went, he ignored them for the most part. Mr. Bowles, my grade 8 science teacher wanted me to enter my 5mW helium-neon laser into the National Science Fair in Ottawa. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get hold of my father. Mr. Ford, my grade 8 and grade 9 music teacher, wanted to get me enrolled in a extracurricular program for electronics and computers in music. Mr. Ford couldn’t get hold of my father. Mrs. Donskov, my grade 7 music teacher wanted me to play the bass guitar so badly that she even arranged for me to be able to borrow one of the school’s amplifiers and one of the bass guitars. She drove me home, and as expected, Richard blew up at her and threatened to call the military police on her if she ever stepped foot on base again. Mr. Snyder the computer lab teacher at Elia Jr. High suggested that I get either a Commodore 64 or an Apple IIe for home use so that I could join one of the local computer clubs and hang out with the other kids that were interested in computers. Richard had his own ideas about that.
And besides, as the few items below indicate, Richard had a very acrimonious relationship with our school teachers.
Item (i) So much wrong with this paragraph. I got cut off by a cabbie that ran a stop sign. ICBC found the cab driver 100% at fault. ICBC rebuilt my motorcycle and paid for all new riding gear. ICBC even paid for a rental vehicle while my motorcycle was being repaired. Yes, I seized the engine in the Plymouth Horizon. No, my mother never paid for it. I bought a used engine from West Edmonton Pick-a-Part and swapped the engines over the course of a weekend. The engine was $150.00. All the sundry parts were maybe another $150.00. This was in early November of 1990 so I was still living mostly off the money I made at Canshare Cabling in Toronto. The long drive from Wabamum into Edmonton is what convinced me to rent an apartment for December 1st 1990.
Item (j). Since moving out on my own in 1987, I’ve never asked for nor have I received a single nickle from my father. He invited me to move to Edmonton with him in June of 1990 just after I finished the Canshare Cabling job. As I was flush with cash (over $20k) I paid for my way and a little more during the trip. I bought my car, bought a year’s worth of insurance, and rented an apartment, with my own money. Through the good and bad I’d never turn to Richard for money as I knew that I’d never get it. I learnt well as a child to never ask him for money as he’d promise it to you if you did some chore like mowing the lawn, but then he’d renege on paying by finding some trivial fault.
As a kid, my father would quite often promise things and then never have any intention whatsoever of following through with them. Birthdays, driver’s training, attending award ceremonies, etc. And he always had a handy excuse available. So yeah, you just learnt to not rely on Richard.
Item (k) Richard was full aware of what I changed my name to. I sent him a very detailed and concise explanation as to why I wanted to change my name and what I was changing it to and why I specifically chose the names that I did.
Item (l) Richard didn’t ask me for a proper reason in 2006. He knew of the abuse, he just didn’t know how bad it had been. He wanted to know why I let the babysitter abuse my younger brother. I had to remind him of how old I was, how old the babysitter was, and the fact that both he and his mother were usually either angry or drunk. In 2006 this just elicited silence from him and a bit of a mumble apology.
By August of 2011, the CFNIS had been given a copy of my Alberta Social Service and foster care records, which had this to say about my grandmother and her position in my family.
Grandma was a bit of a mixed bag. She had been through Indian Residential school as a child. One of the more notorious ones. Holy Angels in Fort Chipewyan. She lived by the maxims of “Children are to speak only when spoken to” and “Children are to be seen and not heard”. She had a very strong affinity for the church. She had a short temper and was not afraid to use corporal punishment. She drank a lot. When she was drunk she was a “happy drunk”.
In the winter of 1983 I stopped going to school. At the time my father said that I had been expelled because I wouldn’t stop kissing other boys. In August of 2011 I learnt that I stopped going to school because Alberta Social Services was on the verge of removing me from the home due to my father’s non-compliance with counselling.
In the spring of 1983 just after we started on the drive to Canadian Forces Base Downsview from Canadian Forces Base Greisbach, Richard said that the reason we had to move suddenly was that he was saving me from the drugs the counselors wanted to give to me to stop me from kissing other boys. Again, another lie. From reading the paperwork from Alberta Social Services they had absolutely no concern about my apparent sexual orientation. Their concern was my home life and my father’s inability to look after his family. The only two people that had a hang up on my sexual orientation, imagined or otherwise, were Captain Terry Totzke and my father.
I don’t know why I thought of this, I think it came about because I was out pawn shop surfing a few weeks ago and I noticed some Canon camera gear. Looked like it was part of an ’80s estate sale. And this post has just sorta been percolating since then.
My old man had a Canon AE1. Which apparently was a fairly decent camera back in the day.
I know he had all sorts of lenses to go with the camera, specifically a really large autofocus lens. He also had a large auto winder for this camera.
The funny thing was, except for taking pictures of hockey games on TV (yeah, he did that), I don’t think he ever took pictures of either me or my brother. I know he never showed up to awards nights at cadets.
My brother and I took part in the Battle of the Atlantic sea cadet parade at Queen’s park just before I quit cadets in the spring of 1987.
I know that as far as 21 gun salutes goes, ours sounded like 3 volleys of random machine gun fire. But what were you expecting from a bunch of 13 to 18 year old kids.
And yes, these were real rifles firing blanks. I’m not sure when cadets were no longer allowed to fire real ammunition, but in my day we had the Lee-Enfield which was originally a .303, but ours had been re-bored for .22. In addition to using these rifles for parades and drill, we used them on the range for target practice.
And I know our parade skills left a lot to be desired, but again we were all kids.
Richard brought all of his camera gear and set up his tri-pod and stuff off on the sidelines. He kept grumbling after that “the stupid camera” didn’t load the film properly.
If I had to guess, the pictures probably turned out, but Richard was more than likely embarrassed that he captured such a rag-tag performance on camera. He was always like that, praise from Richard was all but non-existent, criticism on the other hand came in spades.
For such an avid photographer, he just never seemed to take pictures.
And when he did take pictures, they just didn’t seem to have any life in them.
And the more I think about it, Richard was more about having the knick-nacks than actually using the knick-knacks.
Richard had a shit load of tools, testers, and other stuff, but he rarely used them.
He had broomball gear, but yet he rarely played broomball.
He had hockey gear, but I never saw him play hockey often.
He had a private pilot’s licence, but outside of a couple times at CFB Summerside where he rented a small airplane, he never took my brother and I on flights.
He had a motorcycle licence that he got in the early ’70s. Outside of a few rare rides he never rode his CB550-Four after 1984.
Richard had a ham operators licence, but never owned a ham radio.
Richard invested a lot of time and effort in learning the C+ programming language on his TRS-80 model IIIs and model IVs.
It wasn’t uncommon for Richard to sit down at his computers after supper and stay there until close 22:00. After a couple of hours of sleep, he’d be back downstairs typing away on his computers until something like 02:00 or 03:00.
I know this because sometime just after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, my bedroom was moved into the basement. My stepbother was old enough to be on his own, so he got my old room, and I got punted down into the basement. The basement wouldn’t have been too bad, save for the fact that I didn’t have a bedroom door due to the fact that you weren’t supposed to have people living in the basements of the PMQs and by not putting a door on the bedroom, Richard was skirting that rule.
Just about every night, Richard would wake me up with the noise of his computer work. Said that it was his house and that if I didn’t like it, I could move out.
Except for selling a small database program to a church in Toronto, he never went anywhere with his computer programming.
Over the last couple of weeks, the more I thought about it the more I began to realize that Richard, outside of being a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces, was completely lost and empty on the inside.
He hoped that his do-dads and gizmos would give him meaning. But they didn’t.
He had no goals in life. He had nothing that brought him any type of joy. And I think this is more than likely why he spent absolutely no time being involved with my brother and I.
Where this emptiness came from? I have absolutely no idea.
Sure, grandma wasn’t the ideal parent. She had a lot of emotional issues herself. She drank alot. She had a short temper. She wasn’t afraid to get carried away with corporal punishment. If you disturbed her you’d be told that “children are best to be seen and not heard” or “children are not to speak until spoken to”.
Yes, Richard’s father Arthur Herman Gill buggered off when Richard was fairly young. But Richard really didn’t seem to have any attachment to Arthur.
Uncle Doug seemed normal. Yeah, okay, we didn’t live with him. But ever time he’d come home from the oil fields and stay downstairs in the base when we lived on CFB Namao, he’d always buy my brother and I gifts and presents.
Uncle Norman seemed normal as well. In the two weeks that grandma, my brother and I spent out in Terrace, BC back in the summer of 1984, Norman would frequently take his kids and us out to the lakes and rivers around Terrace for fishing and other activities.
As soon as we moved to CFB Namao in the summer of 1978, grandma enrolled my in Beavers, Youth Bowling, hockey, basketball, and swimming.
Even when she came to live with us out on CFB Summerside after my mother left, she enrolled me in Sunday school, bible class, and various activities with the Knights of Columbus.
Did she do this out of guilt for what she hadn’t done for her kids when she was raising them in Fort McMurray, AB in the late ’40s to early ’60s?
Again, Doug and Norman seemed normal. So, I don’t think that Richard could really blame his mother for his issues.
The social services records from Alberta Social Services said that Richard couldn’t name one single activity that our family did together
And I think that is the key to understanding Richard.
He had nothing to offer, nothing to give. Something had killed him years ago.
Was it the HMCS Kootenay?
Was it the accident on the HMCS Bonaventure?
Was it the CP-140 Aurora crash on CFB Summerside in 1977 when he was attached to the Aurora Sqn?
Was it something else altogether?
I think that by collecting things and knick-knacks and do-dads he was trying to fill the empty holes inside.
And it would appear that my brother and I were also filler material meant to fill voids. He fathered us. And that was about it.
Unfortunately, children make very shitty filler compound.
Richard would often get upset at me for not raising my brother properly. But, I don’t think that’s how that is supposed to work. It’s not my name on my brother’s birth certificate.
I think Richard’s aloofness was best summed up by the Alberta Social Service records when he first stated to Alberta Social Services that he had no idea that both of his sons were having emotional issues. He then stated that his mother was hiding these issues from him. Finally he blamed his mother for these issues.
Where his emptiness came from, I don’t think anyone will ever know. That’s one of the many secrets that he took to the grave.
Although I grew up in my father’s house, I know very little about him. He wasn’t a man that shared much of his life with anyone.
Richard was such a complicated man that to get through him will take a few posts.
The most that I ever knew about my father came after I had obtained my foster care records from the Alberta Government and when I examined my father for Federal Court in 2013.
Richard himself came from a dysfunctional household.
His mother, Margaret Winiandy, had been through Holy Angels residential school for Indian Children in Fort Chipewyan, AB.
Grandma had a drinking problem. She also had an affinity for the church.
Knowing now that she had been through residential school as a kid explains a lot of her issues.
Richard had two brothers. His eldest brother Norman was full Cree. Both Richard and his younger brother Douglas were from Margaret’s second marriage. By the time Richard invited his mother into the house to raise my brother and I, my grandmother had married a third man, Andy Anderson.
My uncle Doug had his Metis status, and in 1990 Doug encouraged me to apply for my status. Richard forbade this. My father would get very upset if you ever suggested to him that he was half Cree.
Richard’s father, Arthur Herman Gill, split when he was young and his mother moved her family from Peterborough, ON to Fort McMurray, AB.
Richard attended grade 1 through grade 9* at St. John’s Separate School in Fort McMurray, AB.
*Richard stated in 2013 that he had completed grade 9. Marie, my mother whom I tracked down in 2013, stated that Richard and my uncle Al, Marie’s brother, both had to take academic upgrading as both only had grade eight. Neither had completed grade 9. It was through this academic upgrading that Richard and Al became best buddies. And they enrolled in the Navy together and became inseparable until about ten years later.
As a kid, what I remember the most about Richard is that he was quick to anger. Asking him questions was akin to walking on broken glass.
Just after we moved to CFB Downsview, I had asked him for help with my math homework. We were still living in the LDH at 94 Sunfield Rd, so I know I was going to Sheppard Public at the time. I think the math question was something along the lines of long division. That was the first time he had ever hit me with a closed fist. It was a couple of days later that he tearfully apologized and said that he was going to take a math upgrading course and that he’d be able to help me with any math homework. That was another one of the many Richard promises that would come to naught. Yes, he took the upgrading course at York University and Seneca College, but knowing math and knowing how to teach math are two very separate issues.
Like most kids, I think I took an interest in electronics and mechanics to be closer to my father. But, this was a foolish endevor in my case.
Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t learn my electronics from him. Yes, his interest in electronics intrigued my interest in electronics. But most of my skills I got from either Radio Electronics, Popular Electronics, or the Radio Shack hobbyist books.
By the time I was 14, I was repairing arcade video games, pinball machines, and jukeboxes. I was honing my skills with real world technicians. Dorian was probably my greatest teacher. House and Winston would be second and third.
My father couldn’t teach. He could redicule. He could humilate. If you made a simple mistake, you were a fucking idiot. That’s just the way things were.
I remember asking him once how to do the calculation to determine the gain of an amplifier stage and he got seriously bent out of shape.
When I moved out of the house just after my 16th birthday, I went to work servicing video games, pinballs, and jukeboxes full time.
Electronics though was never a serious interest of mine. Yeah, I understand it. But no, I don’t get any pleasure from it. Pursuing your hopes and dreams was never something encouraged in Richard’s house. I don’t honestly know what I’d be doing today had I been encouraged or supported in my interests back then.
When I was 15 years old, I bought a 1977 Volkswagen Rabbit for $175.00 with money from my after school job repairing video games.
The car was a piece of crap as one could imagine. Floor pans were rotted out, rocker panels were shot, engine had a shot head gasket.
But it was my car. I even had it registered in my name. Just couldn’t insure it, and couldn’t get plates for it.
I bought the car so that I could get a membership at the base auto hobby club. My hope was that my father would come over to the club on the weekends and help me work on it.
In the days after it was brought homes, he pulled the head off the engine one weekend in the parking lot over by the PMQs. He said that he’d clean the head and block and then he’d put the head back on for me. He told me that I could watch, but that I had to stay out of his way and not ask questions or annoy him. That’s not what I wanted. The reason I bought the car is I wanted to learn how to work on cars. I didn’t buy the car so that I could watch him fix it for me.
In 2011 I tried tracking down my uncle Doug to see what he remembered about CFB Namao from 1980. Turns out that Doug had died in 2010. In speaking with Doug’s widow Yvonne she said something interesting about my father. She said that Richard was the type of guy who would always help, but if you asked for his help you had to stand back and stay out of his way because if you tried to help out as well or pointed out that he was doing something wrong he’d get very upset almost like a little child.
So one afternoon after school I sat out behind our PMQ with the head upside down and clamped in the Black and Decker workmate. I was following the instructions in the service manual that I had bought. I had even gone over to crappy tire and bought head gasket removing solvent and some knives made specifically for scraping head gaskets.
You’ll have to excuse my English, but holy fuck did Richard ever lose it. “Can’t you fucking do as you’re told”? “I told you I’d fix the fucking engine for you, I don’t need you fucking things up!”, “Don’t you understand that if you fuck this up, there’s no fixing the damn thing?”.
It was a $175.00 car that cost him nothing. He just didn’t get it.
Bill Parker overheard this exchange. He waited until Richard went into the PMQ. He told me to go put the engine head in the car and he’d make arrangements for my car to be towed to the auto club and then he’d help me work on the engine and get it fixed up and running right.
Bill Parker was a navy buddy of my father. They had served together on some of the ships at CFB Shearwater between 1963 and 1968.
When we lived on Canadian Forces Base Shearwater, I remember going for visits with the Parkers, and staying over at their house on occasion.
In 2013 I would make acquaintances with a woman named Pat Longmore who had been in the Royal Canadian Navy. She knew my father, she knew my mother, and she knew the Parkers. And she had some rather interesting information about the visits to the Parkers.
I’ll have more to say about the Parkers and Pat Longmore in a later post.
The autoclub was fun. Normally the club only gave out memberships to service members. But as Bill Parker was the president of the club, and Bob Wrightson, another former navy buddy of my father was the treasurer, rules were bent and I got a membership.
I was even supplied with a set of licence plates to put on the car to fool the base military police. Uninsured and unregistered vehicles were not permitted on a Defence Establishment, so the auto club had a collection of plates to thwart the MPs. The MPs at the time had to manually run plates if they wanted to run them. And this was time consuming, so they usually didn’t.
I had fun at the auto club. Tore the engine completely down and spent a month rebuilding it. Learnt how to do clutch jobs. Learnt how to do brake jobs. Brazing and TIG welding sheet metal was interesting. All these skills I learnt from the other guys in the auto club. Other members would pay me to do brake jobs on their cars.
Richard had an early ’80s Cadilac at one point while we lived on CFB Downsview. The car started to develop a fuel leak infront of the rear driver side wheel. The car was hard to start when the fuel leaked out. The car had two electric fuel pumps. One fuel pump was in the tank. The second pump was outside of the tank just in front of the rear wheel arch. Richard pulled up to the autoclub one weekend at the autoclub when I was there working on my car. Richard mater-of-factly pulled the car into one of the bays. He told me that he wanted me to look under the car and see if I could pinpoint the leak and then he’d deal with it. I slid under the rear of the car and he would cycle the ignition on and off to trigger the fuel pumps to prime. I started moving the hose that went between the pump in the tank to the external pump. When I moved the hose it split open and sprayed me in the face with high pressure gasoline. Bill Parker grabbed me by the ankles, pulled me out from under the car, and ran me over to the eyewash station and started washing the gasoline off my face and head. Bill had me take my gasoline soaked shirt off. Richard? Richard thought this was the funniest thing he ever saw. Richard told me that all I was supposed to do was find the leak, not make it worse.