It was 1944 in Manitoba when local veteran George Cameron joined the army at age 17, expecting to head overseas to fight for his country in the Second World War.
“I joined in Winnipeg, then I went overseas to Holland. And that was when the war ended, when I was over there,” said Cameron from his home in Nicholson, where he lives with his wife Margaret.
“So I volunteered for Japan. We were supposed to get a little leave, then head over to Japan. Then we got here (Canada), and as luck would have it, it was over again and we didn’t have to go there.”
The fighting was just ending in Holland when Cameron arrived, but that does not mean he and fellow soldiers were left with nothing to do. Europe was completely ravaged by war, and there was much work to be done.
“You do a lot of cleaning up, and that sort of thing,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about filling your time, they fill it for you. There was always something to do.”
Buildings were smashed and needed to be cleaned up, while others were dangerous and needed to be checked out. An although his time there was short, he developed some very memorable friendships.
“Out of all of those guys that I was with, there are only three that I have been able to find since. And some of them are gone now too. You’d think you’d meet a lot of them back here, but you don’t. I don’t know where they go, if they came back or what they did.”
When Cameron finally made it back to Canada, he realized he did not have enough seniority to get out of the army. He ended up getting stationed in Ontario, assisting with a post-war issue that many people don’t know about.
“They sent me to Ontario to guard German prisoners that they still had over here. Before I got there, the old vets, they looked after them while we were in the war end of it. We took over from them so they could get out and go home.
“I was there until they moved most of the Germans out, they went back to Germany. And then they brought the Japanese people there. And we looked after them for a little while. I wasn’t there that long after that though, I don’t know how long the Japanese were there.”
The prison camp was located in Northern Ontario, just four or five miles outside of Marathon says Cameron.
“After that I entered civilian life. My dad had a farm, so I went home and worked with him there for a little bit, maybe six months or a year. Then we came west.”
After moving to British Columbia, Cameron entered the forestry industry, working as a timber faller.
“That’s what I did for quite a few years, always on the logging end of it. When we came from the Prairies we moved to Enderby, and then from there we came to Golden. We came here in ’62, so we’ve been here for quite a few days.”
Cameron is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion here in Golden, and has enjoyed being part of the Remembrance Day ceremony for many years. Unfortunately he can no longer partake in the march as he cannot walk that far.
“You have to walk from the Legion to the Cenotaph, and I can’t do that anymore. So I’ll just get a ride to the Cenotaph and watch from there. But I do like going down there, it’s a good ceremony.”