How it all began
Keeping the Peace
By Tom Lessard, C.D.
It was early November 1953 when my fellow apprentice soldiers and I arrived in Montreal by train. It seemed to us a huge city. We were staying at the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps on Hochelaga Street, and after debarking from the bus, we were taken to the administration building to be documented. My name was listed as Thomas John Lessard, and not the way it should, John Thomas Lessard. I tried to explain the error and was told by the clerk that it was on all my paperwork and would take too much time to rectify. He said, “This is the army. Live with it.” As a result, I have been correcting it all my life.
Carrying on, we paraded to the quartermaster stores to be kitted out with uniforms, bedding, schoolbooks, rifles, etc. Our medical was set for the next day.
We made our way to the barracks, which was a two storey, typical military structure. Ours had classrooms upstairs and downstairs, along with a laundry room, dormitory style bedrooms, our own administration offices and NCO quarters.
It wasn’t until the next day that we discovered the worst thing about our camp. After we were rudely awakened in the morning, we were told that we had 10 minutes to get cleaned up, dressed and get outside to parade to the mess hall. When we stepped out the door and into the crisp November air of Quebec, we were greeted with one of the most God-awful smells any of us were to meet the rest of our lives. Situated a couple of blocks away was an Imperial Oil refinery neatly on the west side of the fences. A couple of the weaker stomached youngsters turned around and went back into the building, only to be quickly escorted out again. The mess hall was a couple of streets west of where we were, which made the oily stench worse — as if that were possible. Anyway, we struggled through the smell. That was the first of my experiences with army mess halls, and the food was actually very good. Being 16 years old we had pretty good appetites, and were even allotted extra rations.
Last Monday, my wife (her name is Rita, and she’s cute) and I took at drive to Londesborough to try to find the hall at which we would be going for a wedding reception the next Saturday. Since there were no restaurants in town we carried on to Bayfield to DJs. Everyone I know is aware of this establishment. I remembered my sister telling me that an old school chum lived in this town. We looked him up and, sure enough, after 60 years we met again. Being older now, we each have minor medical problems, but still are pretty chipper. As he had to visit his doctor, we had a short but wonderful meeting. Like mine, his wife is in pretty good shape. We both chose our life partners very well.
Happy birthday Donald Dinney, Christopher, Will, Connie, and Olivia Lessard.
Congratulations to Liette Clarke and Jeff Burton, who have a new baby girl.