The Birth Of QORCA - NL Branch
In the early part of this year I was contacted by John Metcalfe. He suggested there should be a Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Maritimes Association Newfoundland & Labrador Branch. I knew there were former QOR personnel around but not as many as John had compiled. John felt a ‘good ole Newfoundland’ (pronounced New-fun-land) reunion would be in order. He convinced me to get involved. He was also successful in convincing Rod Mole from St. John’s to take on the task of collecting the funds for the event. And Rod did that and much more.
On September 11, 2004 at the #1 Legion Hall our reunion took place. Major-General Lewis Mackenzie led off the evening with a short speech followed by a very hot roast beef dinner.
An election of officers was called and Tom Martin, visiting from BC, ran the elections. Elected as president was John Metcalfe and elected as secretary/treasure was Ben Turpin.
People wanted to become members right on the spot. Paying cash before we had a receipt book ready. Today we have 43 paid up members. We have members from most Maritime Provinces.
Both John and I have received many emails, pictures and letters from attendees. There are just to many to paste here. But, I must say this one from Tom Midgley pretty well tells it for all. Here is his story:
A VIEW TO THE PAST
I "come from away" to attend the first reunion of the Newfoundland and Labrador Branch of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Association in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It took place on September 11, 2004 at the #1 Legion on Blackmarsh Road in St. John’s. It was a privilege to be able to attend. The motto "Once in the Queen’s Own, Always in the Queen’s Own" is ever so true. The years spent with buddies during the late 50's in Calgary with the 1st Battalion was truly a family building experience. It was time to resurface "The Family Tree" and here was my opportunity.
I was perusing the Queen’s Own website in late spring and noticed an advertisement regarding this pending reunion. Recognizing John Metcalfe’s name (he is now the first president of the Newfoundland/Labrador Branch) from my Q.O.R.’s past in the 50's I contacted him. Over the past 40 some years, memories of my life and friends I had made in the 1st Battalion, in Calgary have often surfaced. Always wondering where these men were and what they had done with their lives haunted me. The internet had allowed me to find some but many still remained a mystery.
Delaying our summer travel plans until late August, we headed east in our motor home. Leisurely making our way to North Sydney and then taking the ferry on the long route to Argentia, we landed on Newfoundland. John had given us a contact name once we reached St. John’s. What a kind gesture because we did contact Bill Hayes for some much appreciated assistance.
On September 11 we arrived at #1 Legion eager to meet some old faces. John and his organizing crew had everything beautifully arranged. He was at the entrance ready to greet everyone. Name tags had been prepare and those cfa’s were given Newfoundland pins. An area with Queen’s Own memorabilia had been laid out. A large Q.O.R. flag was displayed in front of the head table. For a period of time some Q.O.R. military band music resounded through-out the hall setting the tone for the evening. Some of the men proudly wore the Association’s Green Jacket and tie ensemble.
As people started to arrive I was amazed how many I could still recognize without having to look at their name tag and I was impressed to learn they had lived fruitful and interesting lives, choosing many different vocations, after leaving the service.
The surprise entrance of Major-General Lewis Mackenzie (retired) was a real treat. He mingled so easily among the men and gave a speech recanting his years in the Queen’s Own and also congratulating the efforts put forth to establish this very new branch of the association and wished them nothing but success. He happened to be on the island attending a car racing event - one of his passions.
The Legion Auxiliary graciously served a delicious meal.
After a brief business meeting the evening turned into a real toe tapping experience. My wife and I loved to hear the Newfoundland music and joined in some of the dances. But, just try and out-dance a Newfoundlander. They are amazing dancers.
Because of this reunion I learned the whereabouts of several and sadly the passing of guys who had died young.
One of my dear friends could not make it to the reunion so arrangements were made for us to visit him up on the north shore of Newfoundland. We spent several days in a fishing village allowing us to experience the terrain and a way of life foreign to us. It was a one of a kind experience.
Before leaving the island I was also able to locate another army friend who lives towards St. Anthony - but that will have to be another trip.
I know many people put a tremendous amount of time and effort into establishing this branch of the association and the successful first reunion. Congratulations!
"In Pace Paratus - In Peace Prepared"