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It is very difficult to put into words the profound impact that growing up on a military base can have. One's childhood years form the foundation on which all else is built ( be it for better or worse ). Almost immediately after I was born my father was posted to R.C.A.F station Greenwood N.S. we were there from 1951-53. However, all my childhood memories are associated with my fathers next posting which was to R.C.A.F. Station Rockcliffe Ottawa where we were from Spring 1956 to Summer 1962. Rockcliffe was still a very vibrant busy place during those years. Living on the Station could not be compared to living in any other Civi community. Rockcliffe was an idealistic place to live by any standards. I will always remember it as a little piece of Heaven on earth during my time there. I started kindegarten there and went to Grade 4 at the Viscount Alexander School. I remember so many good times and friends that I could sit here and write for a very long time. They say you never miss the well to the water runs dry, and I never really understood what a wonderful place Rockcliffe was until after I left. It is probably not right of me to hold such attachments to the past, after all we all must move on in life making new starts and new happy memories hopefully. However, the memories of those days has caused me to make a pilgrimage of sorts about once every five to eight years back to my old haunt and it's surrounding. In July 2009 I made my final and last visit to what was left of the Rockcliffe I had once known. I have not words to describe what I saw compared to what I once knew. I took along my HDcamcorder to record the visit. By July 2009 all of the Military buildings had been completely removed from all locations on the old base. Nearly 100% of the PMQ's east of the main entrance on Codds road were also gone. However, the PMQ's West of the main entrance on Codds Road remained standing along with the Viscount Alexander brick school which was converted to a community center in 1990 upon the closing of the building as a DND School.
I was fortunate in that my former home on Rockcliffe was in a section that had not been torn down. However, I must tell you that wondering around through the empty streets and viewing the derelict run down homes was a very emotional experience. The PMQ's to me seemed like Tomb Stones in a grave yard, lifeless. I kept thinking how could such a busy and important place that Rockcliffe was at one time come to such a state of affairs. I video taped as much as I could to document the end of very special time of my life and many others. It had been in the news papers that Rockcliffe would be closed to the general public beginning the end of August 2009 and plans were slated to tear down all the remaining PMQ's to make way for redevelopement of the property. I went to my old PMQ home and took as many photo's as I could. I sat on the front steps looking about and had memories flood back in my minds eye that I had not thought about for many years. As I sat there the full impact of knowing that this was the last time I would be able to return to my old haunt sunk in hard.
Today, I have my memories, my video tape and my fellow brat friends on the internet to comfort me. I always have and always will enjoy a walk down memory lane with anyone whom would care to contact me. At this point I want to wish all my fellow brat friends "Good Luck" and a Happy Life.
I enjoyed reading your essay very much and could totally relate. I lived at Rockliffe AFB from l953-1963 and feel it is where I grew up and was my home.I lived at 24 Dubhe Drive. I attended VAS from K-grade eight. I also returned a couple of times wondering where all my friends went. My memories include the wonderful summers swimming in the pool, playing tennis, and running around the neighbourhood. My mother says we grew up in an "gated community" and in many ways it was. We were safe. I remember summer nights sleeping in tents with friends and after our parents went to bed we would ride our bikes around the block. In the winter we had a great hill (which took us to the back gate house),I remember the skating rink and ice slide the fathers built for us in the back yard. I also remember walking to school in the winter and our knees freezing. It seemed like such a long walk! Track and Field in the Spring was something we all participated in and loved.It was a wonderful base and we were lucky to be there for 10 years. I missed it terribly when we moved to Summerside, PEI. I could go on and on.
Needless to say, your essay has triggered a lot of these memories. It would be fun to re-connect with friends. Is there a place to list friends names? I've tried Facebook, but haven't been successful.
Thanks, again, for your wonderful essay!
I remember growing up on that base. It was wonderful. I have great memories of the pools, the strawberry social with the white elephant table. I would save up for months to buy Beatles cards, or new games or books. There was such a sense of community and opportunity and all within walking distance.
I have great memories as a child picking up those heavy medicine balls in the gym..watching the soldiers on parade and listening to the band. Some of my best memories though were of Hallowe'en. We used to go en masse and people would make candy apples or caramel corn...we knew everyone and there was a welcoming feeling about living there.
It broke my heart to see my former home, 14 Castor Avenue standing for so long but abandoned streets. Years after I grew up there, I joined the reserves as an officer and ate in the officers mess. The pool had long since closed and it was sad having a dinner in a closed base.
Now the school I attended is no more..just a memory. It is all memories, the library where I used to go in the evenings to read encylopedias, and sit on the air force blue leatherette armchairs and pour over the pages on a well worn oak table..all gone. The sense of quiet and order that I felt while reading...also just a memory
So sorry for the very long delay in responding to your reply to my message. This particular forum which we are communicating on is not a regular place I visit. Although I have now marked it on " My Favorites" so I can return to it.
I wanted to simply leave you with this information that I am sure will would want to know. Go on " Facebook " and search for a site called "I lived at Rockcliffe ". There you will find many past residences of the old station and many are quite prepared to take a stroll down Memory Lane. There are many old photo's of the station also located on the site. I myself also have a facebook site in my own name you can look up under " Carey Craig ". I would be glad to share what information I have with you. That goes for any other old Rockcliffe residences that may read this blog as well. Take Care!