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  • Victoria Edwards in Conversation: 9540 Paul Jenkins, Former Curator of the CMR Museum

Victoria Edwards in Conversation: 9540 Paul Jenkins, Former Curator of the CMR Museum

E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) in conversation with 9540 Paul Jenkins (CMR 1974), former curator of the CMR museum.

e-Veritas: Outline your career progression.

9540 Paul Jenkins: I was born in England and, as the son of a naval officer, went to school in three Canadian provinces and England. When I was accepted at CMR, I planned to become a naval engineer. My eyesight caught up with me, however, and I had to reclassify. By pure luck, I ended up in the Security Branch where I had a very full career. I served in the Canadian Forces for 31 years, retiring in 1999 as a naval Captain. I served in postings throughout Canada and in Germany and served on United Nations duty in Cyprus. I had varied experiences in law enforcement, security, operations, counter-intelligence, training, change management and program evaluation. I commanded two military units, one an operational field unit (2 MP Platoon Petawawa) and the other a national level counter-intelligence unit (the Special Investigations Unit).

I was in the CMR class of ’73, but repeated a year because of sports injuries, so I graduated in ;74. In addition to CMR, I am a graduate of the Land Forces Staff College in Kingston, the Canadian Forces College in Toronto and the Canadian Police College in Ottawa.

When I retired from the Canadian Forces, I completed a two-year furniture-making course at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Since moving to Victoria, I have become involved in a number of activities, including volunteering with the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS) where I have put my wood working skills to good use, singing with the Open Door street choir, serving as Vice Chair of the Our Place Society (homeless housing and drop-in centre) and participating in a number of outreach activities through First Metropolitan United Church.

e-Veritas: Outline your role with Red Cross in Coastal BC. Do you have any tips?

9540 Paul Jenkins: I have been a member of the Canadian Red Cross for 14 years since my retirement. I have served in both staff and volunteer positions, including President of the BC Coastal Region Council. In Coastal BC, the Red Cross serves Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Powell River, Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Ocean Falls and the Haida Gwaii Islands. In this region, the Red Cross supports communities in the areas of disaster management, health, injury prevention, abuse and violence prevention, and humanitarian issues. (www.redcross.ca/bccoastal)

I am currently Project Manager of the National Disaster Response Plan, working for the National Office. The goal of this planning initiative is to anchor all Red Cross disaster response training and operations in solid doctrine and plans. We are also ensuring that we are ready to respond in larger events that could occur in Canada and tax the resources of all humanitarian organizations. As part of this initiative, I have travelled to the US, New Zealand and Australia to learn lessons from other Red Cross societies. It is interesting to see how many retired CF personnel are active in the Red Cross. In our field alone, we have retired logisticians, communicators, infantry officers and pilots.

e-Veritas: You wrote “Canadian Red Cross Society 100 Years of Humanitarian Service – What lies ahead.” Any tips?

9540 Paul Jenkins: Our mission says it all: “Improving the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world”. We are becoming better prepared to respond to seasonal events such as spring flooding and summer forest fires. At the same time, our volunteers have gained considerable experience and shown the ability to respond quickly to emergencies and new challenges. Cooperation between the regions has improved, and artificial boundaries no longer hamper service delivery. We are all working as one team. http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=30555&tid=078

e-Veritas: Describe the early days of the Fort Saint-Jean Museum 1964 – 1970

9540 Paul Jenkins: H18424 Dr. David Ruddy has covered the original establishment of the museum in 1964/65. He received quite a bit of support from the College registrar, Monsieur D. Dion and other interested parties. He also notes the gathering of artifacts from various sources and moving them into the old guard house, with the help of officer cadets.

Dr Ruddy’s obit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timescolonist/obituary.aspx?n=david-daniel-ruddy&pid=150378273

When I arrived at Collège Militaire Royal (CMR) as a preparatory Cadet in 1968, I had no background in museums and no particular interest in what was then called the CMR Museum. I was probably first introduced to it through Dr Ruddy, and gradually gained an interest, especially as it gave me a break from the very regimented life of the College in those days.

As I recall, we spent our time organizing the collection and also doing some impromptu digs for artifacts, especially when construction crews dug up any of the grounds. We actually found an amazing collection of items, including coins, pottery, buttons, some metal pieces, etc. On one of our digs, we found a modern coin that somebody had buried there the day before!

The museum was on the agenda of the Comité d’Ambiance, and I believe it had various plans for the museum, but not much had actually transpired. Lack of worker bees appeared to be one of the issues.

e-Veritas: Describe the Fort Saint-Jean Museum 1970 – 1974.

9540 Paul Jenkins: My involvement with CMR and the museum was suddenly interrupted in January 1970 as a result of a broken wrist and subsequent surgery. I had to go on Leave Without Pay until September of that year, but this proved to be a turning point. Dr Ruddy suggested that I look up a friend of his, Niels Jannasch, Curator of the Maritime Museum in Halifax, where I was to spend my time until I returned to CMR.

This was a great stroke of luck. Niels took me on as a volunteer and then as a paid Museum Assistant at the new museum in Halifax. I learned a tremendous amount about museum science and almost remained there as a full-time employee, rather than returning to CMR. But saner minds prevailed, and I returned in September 1970, with lots of ideas and motivation to turn the CMR Museum into a real museum.

One of my first initiatives was to write a full report to the Comité d’Ambiance, recommending a number of things:

– Improvements to heating and lighting.

– Establishment of a Museum Sub-Committee.

– Establishment of a budget.

– Allowing Cadets to work in the museum from 1600 to 1800 hrs on “representative” status.

– Provision of tools and materials.

– Proposed layout for the displays.

I signed this report as Assistant Curator. During the 1970 to 1974 period, Dr Ruddy was the Director of the museum, but he was not heavily involved and he left most of the day-to-day work to a group of Cadets, led by me. He was also absent for at least a year on sabbatical. This gave me a great opportunity to develop my skills, which served me very well in years to come.

The rest of the 1970/71 academic year was spent doing research on the history of Fort Saint-Jean, planning exhibits and constructing exhibits with the assistance of the Museum Club that was established. We had a slow start.

As a result of yet another broken bone, I spent the summer at CMR and continued working on the museum.

e-Veritas: When did things start to pick up?

9540 Paul Jenkins: Things started to pick up in 1971/72 as I became involved with the Organization of Military Museums of Canada and completed some Canadian Museum Association credit seminars at the War Museum in Ottawa. That year the Museum Club became more active, and we carried on with display construction, opened the museum to the public on a number of occasions and arranged some loans from the War Museum.

The 1972/73 academic year saw us apply for and get official status as a military museum under the CF Museum Committee and I was able to get funding under the related CFAO. We also submitted a Winter Works project for improvements to the building. This project was overly ambitious, and not much of the work was actually done.

Cadet involvement in this year and 1973/74 increased considerably, with over 1700 man-hours being volunteered. A group of five or six contributed a lot of their free time and weekends preparing the museum for the eventual official opening. Three senior Cadets did a fourth year communications project that among other things, recommended changing the name of the CMR Museum to its current name.

My final year at CMR (1973/74) was a frantic one. In my last term, I turned the role of Curator over to 10389 OCdt Chris Cottle who was one year behind me and had been active in the museum for several years. I was appointed Cadet Wing Administration Officer, but still remained involved in organizing the official opening on 6 May 1974. In March 74, I wrote an extensive report to the College staff, outlining many of the things that were required to see the museum move ahead successfully:

– Approval of the name change.

– Adoption of a new organizational structure that sorted out the relationship of the military staff, the museum curator, the museum club and the Comité d’Ambiance.

– Summer staffing of the museum.

– Details for the opening ceremony.

– Publicity and signage.

Most of these recommendations were approved, and we saw the museum open successfully in May.

e-Veritas: What about after you graduated?

9540 Paul Jenkins: The following month, I graduated and was posted to CFB Halifax to begin my career as a Security Branch officer. My museum experience followed me however. I served on the Marcom Museum Committee in 1974/75 and when I was posted to CFB Shearwater in 1978, I eventually became the Curator of the Shearwater Aviation Museum, which opened to the public in June 1981. I remain a fan of museums to this day, although my direct involvement has been far less in recent years.

I would like to underscore the effort that the Cadets of CMR put into this project. The museum would not have gotten off the ground without their organizing abilities and hard work. The College staff provided the support we needed, but we did the work! Musée du Fort Saint-Jean/ Fort Saint-Jean Museum www.museedufortsaintjean.ca/EN/index-en.htm

Paul Jenkins profile http://www.museedufortsaintjean.ca/EN/apropos/histoire/Debuts/Jenkins.htm

e-Veritas: What was Cadet life like at CMR St Jean in the early 1970s?

9540 Paul Jenkins: I once quipped that many criminals have served less time for manslaughter than we did voluntarily (almost six years in my case), and they had fewer rules to follow. We started very young (barely 17 in my case) and were kept very busy, so perhaps we didn’t reflect that much on the situation, or at least those who stuck it out didn’t. I have often wondered what it would have been like to have gone to civy-U. I actually went to a number of civilian classes at York University and Carleton with friends, and found it all very interesting – especially in the late 60s.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed the experience, certainly not as much as I did my operational career in the CF. I certainly learned a lot that stood me in good stead when I graduated, although most of the valuable experience was a result of the Cadet life and other activities such as the museum. Maybe I can summarize. The academic side of things was marginal, possibly as we had just shifted to a full degree program that was in its early days. The military side of things was good as we got to run many aspects of College life. Sports were good and kept me sane, especially sailing. Our social life, especially for English cadets “from away” was pretty lousy, although one of the English professors, Dr. Harding, adopted me in my senior years and I spent many happy days with his family.

e-Veritas: What are you up to these days?

9540 Paul Jenkins: I consider myself a Nova Scotian by adoption and marriage, but moved to Victoria in 2002 to be nearer to my family. My wife Jean is a retired English as a Second Language teacher. I have two daughters, both of whom have recently completed post-graduate studies. One lives in Vancouver and the other in Wolfville, NS. My main activity is with the Red Cross, which has become a second career.

Other members of the CMC Museum Clubs:

11690 Simon MacDowall

11282 Ross Macfarlane, 8057 Ross McKenzie, and Eric Ruel

2 Comments

  • Victoria Edwards

    March 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

    The scale models are by 9540 Paul Jenkins unless otherwise listed:
    * Catspaw Dingy (Joel White) – 1977
    * Carignan-Salières Regiment soldier display (Fort Saint-Jean c 1666) by 11282 Ross Macfarlane presented to 9540 Lt. Paul Jenkins in 1974.
    * Wasa – Swedish Warship – 1628
    * HMCS Snowberry – Canadian Corvette – 1943
    * Canadian Coast Guard Sambro – 44′ self righting lifeboat – 1993

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