do you remember

June 15, 2012

 “When I started school, I wrote on a slate (talk about Freddie Flintstone) spit on it and rubbed off my ABCs…by the light of a kerosene lamp. I was 8 yrs old before we had electricity and then it was a 10-watt bulb in the ceiling. This was in Carbonear, NL, 1939.” 

Cliff Powell, Gander “          On Aug. 15, 1947 we arrived in Gander and lived in to  McNamaras camps (tar paper covered buildings). We got our water supply from the sand washer site where a hose had running water going all the time.

 We would get Tom Ivany in a CAD (Civil Aviation Division ) dump truck to go out there and we would fill our barrels and bring them back to our homes which consisted of approximately 20 families.  This water source is the Burner Hill site.

I moved out from my family (age 16) and went to work for BOAC, Oct 4, 1947 so I do remember going to the burner with garbage from the Caledonia camps (BOAC).

McNamaras camps were about 5 minutes driving east of the Burner Hill. Later on, my father (Graham Powell) and Walt Russell dug a well.  

Cliff & Sylvia- McNamaras camps 1948

In 1948 our family moved to 48 Fleet St., on the Army side into a former officers’ building. As our family was large (9 excluding myself) so we had a building to ourselves. In front of us was the Salvation Army Citadel.

I have a lot of info re early Gander, although I did not go to school here as I was 16 and out working at BOAC. My first job was loading cargo--Royal mail, baggage, catering, etc.

At BOAC we had our own bar (Caribou Club) and I had my own bar tab at 16. I used to sign in “Mr Selby Pike” who many should remember worked at Goodyear’s Store for years.  

After BOAC it was Allied Aviation doing fleet service, then aircraft engines and on to the Commissary.  Fed up with that, I went with Air Traffic Control in 1955. At the same time, I had a train ticket to Quebec to join the RCAF.  I picked ATC and sent the ticket back, which was a good decision. I had my own garage, doing maintenance and selling cars for Chrysler in my spare time

It was during this time that I started playing in the Airport Club orchestra (rhythm  guitar) and in 1956 Ed Goff  TCA (Trans Canada Airlines) in New Brunswick, transferred to Gander and started the Solidaires Orchestra. I bought a double bass and learned to read music and play the instrument.

I am presently with two bands and passing on some of my knowledge to the younger ones, not much happening today as regard to clubs hiring bands but we have band practises every week.

This is an example of what life was like in early Gander, so much has been taken for granted today that if a catastrophe happened it would be the older people who could survive with their wood stoves and water buckets, kerosene lamps.

Re my family: Graham is in Halifax; Verena, Edmonton; George, Toronto; Boyd, 6 mos. Toronto--6 mos. Carbonear; Sylvia, Grande Prairie, AB; Mary, deceased—Milton, in 1991

 Cliff & Graham - Gander Lake 1953

Thanks so much to Cliff for sharing some of his memories of early years living “On the Gander”…in a postscript to these memories, Cliff had this to say re an earlier article on the cement pillars that were recently unearthed during a Gander construction project. We asked if people could recall what had stood on those pillars at that location. The column on various classmates’ memories appears in the archives at the bottom of all columns on Faye’s Place (That particular one is dated: Jan. 17, 2012).    


Cliff had this to add about those excavated pillars:

“Re-the pillars, I can’t seem to find that site again to further look at the shapes, but looking at the map the old road to Glenwood went west of runway 13, turned to the right and later on became Beaverwood (beavers use to dam the area and flood the road).  This road continued on across the railway track over to Memorial Drive.”

“At the railway crossing is where I believe those pillars are located which was the Imperial Oil plant run by Albert Gould. Richard Perry was killed by a train there at that level crossing. He was only a young man.  I hope this clarifies some of your queries.”                       

Cliff alongside a PAA Stratocruiser - 1953



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