Although both sides of my family are ‘French Canadian,’ my mother’s ancestors are Acadians who settled in the maritime provinces and the eastern seaboard of the United States. Dad, however, is the link to our Québecois French Canadian and military heritage.
In earlier posts about our family’s WWI war casualties, I discussed our family’s attachment to the Canadian military. My own father, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine, was an Instrument Electrical Technician in the Canadian Armed Forces for almost thirty years.
Born in 1934 to Henry Joseph Turmaine and Rose Amande Emery of Quebec, he was nephew to both family members we lost in WWI, Joseph Philias Albert Emery (Rose’s brother) and Joseph Turmaine (Henry’s half-brother). (See photo at right of Gerry Turmaine at age 3.) As a new Canadian forces member, he spent some time in New Brunswick visiting the family of another recruit, Paul Melanson and met my mother, Patricia Gail Melanson – Paul’s sister.
Shortly after, he was transferred to Baden Söllingen, Germany and a long distance relationship proceeded for a while until he eventually asked my mother to go over and marry him. She traveled over on ship, they were married, and just over a year later I was born.
A year after my birth, my father was posted to Trenton, Ontario by the Canadian military, where we lived for ten years. During this time, he was a member of the national military pipe band (see photo at left) and frequently played all around the nation – and on one occasion, I can remember him traveling to Washington, DC to play. During the ten years we lived in Trenton, my parents had three more girls, my sisters Renee, Andrea and Danielle.
We finally left Trenton when my parents’ dream came true and we were transferred to Comox, British Columbia. I can remember my parents talking about how much they’d like to live on the west coast of Canada for years. As a matter of fact, the story told ever after was that my Dad was so happy at the news of our transfer to British Columbia he wore holes in his socks dancing around the coffee table.
Their intention to remain in British Columbia was evident when my Dad told his superiors in Comox that he would rather forego any further promotions in order to remain in British Columbia until he retired. My parents lived in Comox until his death in 2005.
Twenty years ago I met my husband while he was training in Comox. He was an Aviation Technician with the Canadian Armed Forces and retired in 2006 to take a position with Marshall Aerospace in Abbotsford, British Columbia – where he could continue to work on his favorite aircraft, the CC130 Hercules.
To add to the tradition, my husband’s father, Marsh Blythe, retired in the 1980’s as a Sergeant in the Canadian army and my sister Andrea’s husband Larry Potter also retired several years ago from the Canadian army.