Your memories of "the Wash"

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For those who have been fortunate to have spent a summer or many summers at Vernon, the memories are varied and amazing. We invite you to submit in about 250 words or less any story you would like to share. Be sure to include your name and cadet corps, the camp and year the story takes place in if possible.

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 I applied and was accepted to attend Camp Ipperwash for a seven week Cadet Camp in the summer of 1954.
 I don’t remember getting to Toronto but Ontario Cadets went by “troop” train from Union Station to Forest Ontario. There we were pick up in army trucks with our duffle bags and taken to Army Camp Ipperwash.
 
 The first experience was a little disconcerting. Every one was taken to the Rec hall
 to remove all your clothes and line up for a medical inspection. Some of these Dr.s were very thorough in their duties.
 From there it was to the quartermaster for issuing of a camp uniform, tan shorts, shirts, belts, boots, socks, putties, packs, ponchos and Pith helmet. Included in this distribution was also sheets, blankets, towels, etc. all to be lugged to your assigned lodging.
 
  We were sent to “A” Coy.1st Platoon. All units were in military “H” hut units and ours was the first one facing the Parade Square. After getting all our gear there we got a lesson packing your belongings in your foot locker and how the bed had to be made. This operation was regularly inspected and it better be right or you might find yourself running circuits of the parade square.
 
 A typical day started with reveille, make beds and tidy up quarters, ablutions and head to the mess hall for breakfast parade. Our mess hall was one of three and called the “Trocadaro”. Meals were always plentiful for teenage boys but we always had complaints, which I guess was normal. It was a catering company that provided the meals and not regular army cooks. Hard boiled eggs were so hard they would have made great golf balls, toast might have been made the day before and was like rubber sheet. About once a week we would get beans for breakfast. These were hardly cooked yet and were little white pellets. You soon knew that if there were beans at breakfast they were served at lunch as pure mush and there would be bean soup at supper.
 
 After breakfast there was the morning parade, full battalion, each platoon and Coy lined up for inspection, the Cadet band played the marches for the parade and following was the break off to individual Coys. It seemed the morning was always drill, drill and more drill. Marching around the parade square, by platoon practicing all the right turns left turns, right wheels and left wheels, close order drill and others.
 
 After lunch we were given training in various areas such as map and compass orientation and several orientation exercises. Rifle and gun stripping and cleaning
 as well as rifle practice on the ranges. As I remember we did fire a Bren guns as well. We did throw some grenades for practice but these were not armed.
 
 We were taken out to some area of the dunes to bivouac for the night. Your poncho became the ground sheet and a blanket from your bed was for warmth. I can tell you it was really cold even on a summer evening. My friend Robb and I decided to double up and had 2 blankets but it was still cold. We were to arrange to have posted guards for our areas and take shifts of 2 hours. Someone was to have gotten me up for my tour at 2:00 AM but never showed up. I guess maybe he had gone to sleep at the post.
 
 There were some swim times when we went by truck to the beautiful sand beach at Ipperwash. we used the buddy system while in the water and had a great time on those days.
 
 There was little free time left before dinner parade. It was typical army to have in the mess hall the system of orderly messing. If you were the last one at that table it was your responsibility to serve the table. Every one returned their used cutlery and dishes individually to the cleanup area.
 
 The Canadian Government paid a Cadet $100.00 for the full seven weeks.
 Robb having been there we could set up a small service business to make spending money for the summer and save our pay money. After settling in we proceeded to offer our services for laundry, ironing, boot polishing and brass polishing, cleaning and shining web belts attachments etc. We even incorporated hair trimming as the summer went on because if your hair got to long you had to get it cut and no one wanted the army barber (Everyone had seen the job they did).
 
 This worked out really good for us. We never got to spend many evenings in the Rec Hall watching old movies or buying junk in the canteen because of the work load we took on. This wasn’t a bad deal in the end. We actually came home with extra cash and had our whole pay cheque to boot.
 
 There were some passes to go into the town of Grand Bend on some evenings.
 I did go in once, the whole idea being to find some girls. This was difficult when you were competing with an army truck load of cadets as well as the locals. I have since spoken with ladies who had spent summers in Grand Bend as teenagers and they had been fully onto the antics of hungry, horny cadets.
 
 It was no doubt probably the best summer I have ever had. We were trained hard and certainly were in much better shape on returning home. We had good instructors and I think learned things that still remain with me. The best instructors were the regular force NCO’s. In particular Staff Sgt. Fairchild had been assigned to us and was the real example of a soldier. Looking out at the Parade square just at reveille you would see Staff Fairchild in front of our hut, spit, polished and pressed, standing at parade rest with his drill cane under his left arm perfectly parallel to the ground. Other regular force personnel were on the ranges for rifle practice and weapons training. One of our civilian instructors was Art Wilson who was a teacher in Orillia and was at Ipperwash for the summer. Our Company Major was a Mr. Allison who was a principal in a high school.
 
 At the break up of camp we again had to visit the quartermaster to turn in all of our issued uniform and bedding etc. Robb had decided that he would wear his old boots all summer and be able to go home with the new army issue instead. the quartermaster looked at the boots he was handing and said to take off the new ones and leave them. His discomfort all summer with worn out boots didn’t pay off after all.
 
 The first week at camp we were a pretty sloppy looking bunch representing Canada’s future but on that last Battalion parade and inspection we had really come together as a unit and I think really looked good from what I could see from my position on the parade square. I had achieved the position of Cadet Sergeant during that summer.
 
 Paul Orser #70 Orillia Cadet Corps
 
 email porser@orilliapronet.com

I spent 3 great summers at Ipperwash. 1973 (2week wonder) 1974 CL, 1975 CLI. The best had to be 1975.  I was in H Coy, 1st Platoon.  It was also the first year girls were allowed to attend. They were housed in a barracks over by the hospital and were known as M Coy.  They were allowed only to attend for 2 weeks as it was their first year.

There were heaps of summer romances then, and I remember sneaking off to the obstacle course (off limits then)
to "make out" behind one obstacle, or just in side the wood line. We went off to North Bay for two weeks for Exersicse Stepping Stone 4.

Great memories

Tim Anderson
Sydney Australia.

7 Oct 2007

I spent four summers at Ipperwash from '59 to '62; two as a cadet and two as an instructor. I was a member of #68, St. Catharines Collegiate Cadet Corps and the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. Too many good memories to even begin to recount.
I took a lot of useful skills and leadership knowledge with me that worked for twenty years in the U.S. Army and for almost twenty years now with U. S. Customs. If parents knew what a good deal these summer training camps are, they would probably pay big money to have their boys and girls attend.


Doug Farr
Las Vegas,NV

Feb 2007

Although it’s over 30 years ago, I still have a lot of vivid memories of my six weeks on the Cadet Leader course, in the summer of 1974.  I was with the 2881 Highland Creek Army Cadet Corps, in Scarborough , Ontario . It was my first summer camp and my first trip to Camp Ipperwash , or “ Camp Diaper Wash ” as we called it.

 I was in B Coy, in the H-hut at the SE corner of the parade square. It was exciting to see all the cap badges, shoulder flashes, etc, from so many different units, and meet young guys like myself, from corps all over the province. There were no girls in Cadets at that time. I think that was still another year or two away.

 We had the Reserve “Corporal Call-Out” instructors, but the folks who really made such a lasting impression on me were the cadre of Regular Force NCOs.  No doubt the seeds those guys sowed led to me joining the Regular Force when I turned 17.

 I remember the schedule at Ipperwash being very full. We sure spent a lot of time doing drill on that shimmering hot parade square.  I can still hear the Band Coy playing “The Maple Leaf Forever.”  We spent a fair bit of time on the ranges, at that time with the FNC1 rifle. The Mechanical Target Range kind of sucked, though. The targets were used so much and so full of holes that often they didn’t fall when hit.

 Later in the course we were out in the training area, doing map and compass marches and various training.  It was stinking hot out in those sand dunes. The bush hats we wore looked really stupid, kind of like WWII Japanese hats, but with those flaps folded down they sure kept the sun off the ears and neck. We built hoochies and ate rations, which I think were called “IRPs” at that time.  For sleeping we had our bedrolls, made from our poncho and one of our wool blankets from the barracks.  At night, though, it was so cold out in those dunes that I remember barely sleeping. 

 At camp, a lot of folks complained about the food in the mess hall. Really, though, we were just a bunch of kids, and I think many figured it was just the military way to complain about the food.  I doubt if many of them ate that good at home! I remember waiting for what seemed like eternity in the line-ups, but once finally at the steam line, I remember the meals being pretty darned good.  There usually was quite a bit of choice, and often some nice desserts!

 Toward the end of the course, we set off in canoes on Lake Huron . It was pretty exciting with the waves crashing in, and we had to zigzag to avoid taking them broadside.  We went up the mouth of a river, and paddled well into the evening. It was probably the Ausauble River . We bivouacked for the night in a field near the river and then did fieldcraft training. We set snares for rabbits, groundhogs and squirrels.  A few guys had transistor radios, and the big song at the time was, “The Night Chicago Died.”  I remember hearing it frequently on an AM station from Sarnia or London .

 After Cadets, I went on to serve 23 years in the Regular Force (communications). I met many fine folks in the CF, who had also started out in Cadets. Unfortunately, I never did make it back to Ipperwash during my time the CF.  I was really saddened to hear how Ipperwash’s proud history all ended.  During the native standoff in 1995, I followed the events as best I could from Haiti , where I was stationed at the time. 

 Ipperwash and Cadets overall was an excellent experience for a young fellow.  For me, it was the beginning of a whole life in uniform. Since retiring from the CF five years ago, I continue to serve Canada , now as a Customs officer on Canada ’s “frontline.”

 Adrian Cwikowski

October 2006

 

This is not a happy story although Ipperwash was a wonderful facility and provided exceptional summer programs for cadets fortunate to attend.
I was a a cadet with the Grey and Simcoe Foresters while attending the Collingwood Collegiate Institute. I had the opportunity of attending the Ipperwash Cadet Camp and decided what a wonderful opportunity especially for a kid, off the farm, who never had other opportunities. In the summer of either 1958/59 and this is something I must check, I was a member of Hotel Coy. We went for a swim in the traditional swimming on Lake Huron. Boats were out, there was safety measures and life guards in place, all appeared in order. My buddy, Elgin Gott and I went out into what appeared to be calm water and very shortly the wind came up. Waves started to build and became extremely rough in a very short time. Elgin got into trouble just as I seemed to step into some very deep water and I began to panic. The last thing I can remember were my arms pointing up and the last bits of air leaving my lungs raising to the service, as I passed out. Somehow, I ended up on the beach coughing out water as a person was administering first aid and I "came-too". The first thing I said was "where's Gott" and they then realized there was a person still missing. They found him but unfortunately, they were unable to revive Cadet Gott. As a young person, this accident certainly remains with you for a long time. I will always remember the camp provided some wonderful experiences that remain a lifetime. 

Captain Stephen Ransier (ret.) 

29 Aug 2006

 

I went to Ipperwash in the summer of '68 , my cadet corp was 2360 Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.  When I got to Ipperwash I was put into Charlie Coy.  The RSM of the camp was a Canadian Guard named Bennet. I attended the 6 week Cadet Leader Course. I remember the long lines for pay, messhall, cookie and freshie break. In those days we did not have dances as all the cadets were male.  Many of us thought the cadets in Band Platoon had the best go.  I remember hoss tops and Puttees and what made the whole thing funny, was we were boys wearing mens shorts, so all that was visible would be two knee caps. Most of our trging was under canvas (large marquee tent) with the side flaps rolled up and long thin benches to sit on, no back support and no slouching in other words you couldn't drift off.  The big break was church parade where  most guys usually fell asleep.  I remember the camp hospital and anyone in there as a patient had to wear paper slippers,  Pay parade was a gruelling expience, alphebatically and hot, we had one fellow who's name was Zuwicki.   Your uniform had to be sharp as a tack. 

Many of us spent hours and learned for the first time how to iron cotton.  The smell of starch was strong and some uniforms were burnt. Some shorts had so much starch they stood by themselves.  We starched shirt, pants, hats, armlets. One item of irration and enjoyment was to french one anothers beds or short sheet the bed, often foot powder was included.  I remember the Reserve Cpl's who were the NCM at the section level had to do duty in the Cpl's room located centre of each side of the H-huts.  Each Coy had about 120 cadets with 4 platoons to an H-Hut.  My section Cpl was a fellow named Kitchen from the Essex and Kent Scottish, he had a High pitched tone to every command . His presence was typical of an outstanding role model.  Our Platoon WO was regular force artillery. Clearly being at Ipperwash laid the foundation for my military career.

cheers

Randolph Rice

P.S  FYI.

the Cadet who was the Cadet RSM for the Lt Gov. Day in 1971, Karl Ozols is a good friend of mine , we served together in the Airborne Engineers as part of the Airborne Regiment Battle Group 1977-1982

13 July 2006