The Courier

Sue McDermaid and her brother play outside PMQ 211 at RCAF Station Cold Lake, 1954 – Supplied Photo

Medley of Memories is a captivating feature that invites you to delve into the rich tapestry of Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake’s legacy. From military personnel to civilian residents, Medley of Memories weaves together a mosaic of experiences. Immerse yourself in these tales as we celebrate the 70-year history of this iconic Canadian military institution through the heartfelt narratives of those who have left a mark on its legacy.

“Here is a picture of my brother and I playing outside our house. No grass, no sidewalks…our poor mother!”

In the spring of 1954, when Sue McDermaid was just a child, her father, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) member, was posted to the then-brand-new RCAF Station Cold Lake.

“We lived in the unit on the left of the picture. Timberline ran down from the Tomboy store/theater/pool/. to the left of the picture. Cedar Crescent was in front and to the right of the picture.” – Supplied Photo

“We lived in PMQ 211, a duplex on the corner of Timberline and Cedar. The family in the other half was named Lewis. Their daughter, also named Susan, and I are still in touch after all these years.”

McDermaid was born in Cornwall, Ontario in 1949.  Her father, Douglas Edwards, originally enlisted in the RCAF when the Second World War broke out, and flew on Lancaster bombers.

“He started as a tail gunner on a Lancaster but by war’s end, he was a navigator. He was in North Africa, India, Burma and Siam.  In 1945 he returned to Cornwall and worked as an electrician until 1951 or 1952 when he signed back up in the Air Force.  His trade was Armament Systems. After courses in Borden, we went to Clinton, then to Namao in early 1953.  Spring of 1954 saw us sent to Cold Lake.”

“I started school in Cold Lake in the fall of 1954.  My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Hoffman.  Grade 1 was Miss Martineau, Grade 2 was Mrs. Fraser.  Grade 3 was Mrs. Cram. I don’t have a report card for kindergarten. I’m not sure if it was lost or maybe we didn’t even get one then.  But the report cards for Grades 1 and 2 are from Biggin Hill School.  The report cards for Grades 3 and higher are from Athabasca School, which was part of Biggin Hill School District 5029.”

“The families in the duplex behind us were the Thicksons and the Ramsays. A family from Nova Scotia named Snow was in the large 4-bedroom duplex in the back right of that picture.”

Like many of the military families that call CFB Cold Lake, their home address would change a few more times with her father’s career.

“After moving to Cold Lake in the spring of 1954, we went to Point Hueneme, California for a short time in (I think) 1957, then back to Cold Lake.  That time we lived in PMQ 108, before moving to Marville, France in December of 1959.”

“PMQ 108 on Fir Lane, where we lived in 1959. ” – Supplied Photo

“In mid-December, 1959 we were on our way to 1 Fighter Wing, in Marville France.  We had a lovely three-week holiday in Cornwall first then took the train to Halifax where we sailed on the Saxonia to LeHavre, France.  Once again, no PMQ was available at first so we spent the first 4 months living in a small village in Belgium called Lamorteau, then moved into a 3 bedroom apartment PMQ near Longuyon, France.  This was a 10 or 15-minute drive from the base.”

“Dad was with 445 Squadron at first, then in spring 1963 it disbanded and he moved to 439 Squadron.”


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