Ex-Cadet Still Going Strong
Edited by 25366 Mike Shewfelt
Following graduation from RMC with a BEng, Engineering & Management, 9913 Robert (Bob, Howie) Cowden (CMR, RMC ’74) spent the next 23 years as a Communications & Electronics (CELE) Officer, living in 12 different locations across Canada and the USA. Highlights included four years in Colorado Springs, a Masters degree in Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Liaison Officer tour at Hanscom AFB (Boston) and promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel upon graduation from Staff College in 1990. And don’t forget the 23 years on a sports scholarship, playing on Regional and National championship teams in hockey, golf, soccer, broomball and fastball.
Bob retired from the CF in 1997 and joined the Public Service in Cold Lake, Alberta. He ran the Y2K program (remember Y2K?) for 4 Wing Cold Lake and then when that fizzled out in Jan 2000, he decided to try his luck running the Engineering Section in the 4 Wing Construction Engineering Squadron. In 2002, a great engineering opportunity arose, looking after all the infrastructure (including two contractors) on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range and Bob has been doing that ever since.
Bob and his wife Tracy have been married for 37 years and have four children and a grandson, all living in Alberta. Bob is still playing hockey, volleyball and golf and has developed a real passion for fishing. He plans to retire for good sometime next year and will become a snow bird, living in the suburbs of Calgary from May until Christmas and then traveling somewhere warm every winter. Plans include Australia, Mexico, Greece and the Southern USA.
Bob can be reached at [email protected].
Ex-Cadet Enjoys Well-Earned Retirement
Edited by 25366 Mike Shewfelt
5207 Andrew Robb, Class of ’61, came to RMC in 1957 as one of the exclusive group that spent all four years on Point Frederick. He spent his formative years in Belleville, Ontario, spent five years in high school army cadets, and attended three summer army cadet camps. His decision to attend a military college was a natural one. “This was a period when the Second World War and the Korean War were part of our current memories and attending a military college seemed like a natural step. In addition, my father, 2191 A Stuart Robb, attended the College from 1930 to 1934.”
Andrew Robb has fond memories of his time at the College. He spent all four of his years in Fort Haldimand in a couple of Squadron structures. His first two years were in 6 Squadron on the second floor, while his final two years were in 1 Squadron. “5185 Carl Kristjansen was my first year room-mate. In my final year I was Cadet Squadron Leader of 1 Squadron under Capt Ed Bobinski.”
During his first year, Andrew Robb selected the Royal Canadian Artillery as his corps. “During the first year,” he remembers, “the army cadets heard presentations from representatives from each of the ‘arms’ before we made a choice. We were allowed only to enroll in “combat arms,” the infantry, artillery, armoured, engineers, signals, and electrical and mechanical engineers. I chose artillery and spent three summers in idyllic Camp Shilo in Manitoba learning how to be a Gun Position Officer with 105 mm howitzers (towed by trucks).”
His academic results were less idyllic. “After two years taking the general curriculum with rather dismal academic results (three supplemental exams in first year and one in second), I applied for civil engineering,” he recalls. “I concluded, based on my academic record and my interests, civil engineering was best for me. We had a congenial group that made the long walk each day to the civil engineering building at the north end of campus.”
“Recruit year was somewhat of a drag with very limited passes, but this was probably a good thing as it let us concentrate on studies, lab reports, shining boots, and pressing pants. We were not allowed to leave the College at all until we had ‘passed off the square’. We did drill in the late afternoon until RSM Coggins judged that we would not embarrass the College when walking in the city. Once we had ‘passed off the square’ we were issued with Scarlets. I wore mine home for the first time in late October to my high school commencement. We walked the causeway many times as recruits were not allowed to use taxis. On Sunday evenings, Cadets were allowed to invite a guest for dinner in the Yeo Hall dining room so we took advantage of this many times.”
He graduated in 1961 with Governor General Vanier overseeing the parade. It was at this same ceremony that the College was presented with new colours. Only twenty-two of the original sixty-six who started at RMC in 1957 graduated that year. Along with many of his class, he was married in the first few months following graduation. “In August, Mary Catherine, who had been a student nurse at Kingston General Hospital, and I were married in Belleville. We immediately drove to Vancouver for my final degree year at the University of British Columbia. Ours was the last class to graduate from RMC without engineering degrees.”
Andrew Robb had a number of postings over the next few years. He was posted upon graduation from RMC to 4 RCHA in Camp Petawawa, then to Royal Roads to help supervise the survey school after his year at UBC, and then back to 4 RCHA. “I was named Intelligence Officer (an interesting oxymoron) for the regiment. We were immediately mobilized to drive to Camp Gagetown for exercises. This was quite an undertaking that clogged the two-lane highways (there were no four-lane highways in those days) from Ontario to New Brunswick, and right at the start of vacation season! In 4 RCHA we had 250 vehicles travelling at 35 mph in packets of five vehicles each. An armoured regiment from Camp Borden and an infantry battalion also came along.”
“Our son was born during this time,” Robb recalls. In true military fashion, his son was six weeks old when he saw him for the first time. “I learned of his birth over a field telephone strapped to a fence post patched through to Belleville General Hospital.” His daughter was born in Brandon, Manitoba, in September 1964, during a posting to 2 Surface-to-Surface Missile Battery in Camp Shilo.
When he left the Canadian Forces in February 1965, it was during a very uninspiring time in the CF. “This uninspiring situation continued for many years. The CF was grossly understaffed in Canada with the only emphasis being on keeping the units in the NATO commitment in Europe up to strength. This was also the time of Hellyer’s unification of the Forces.”
When Andrew Robb left the CF, he joined Canada Cement Company, which in 1970 became Lafarge Canada. He worked first at the Canada Cement plant in Winnipeg as an engineer before he was transferred to the plant in Point Anne (Belleville) in 1966. In 1972 he was transferred to the cement plant in Bath, ON, where he eventually became Production Manager. Other transfers included to Kamloops, BC, in 1975 as Plant Manager, to Woodstock, ON, in 1979 also as Plant Manager, and to Montreal and the Lafarge Corporate Technical Centre as Manger of Manufacturing in 1986. He was appointed Director of Human Resources there in 1989. In 1995 he was transferred to the United States as Plant Manager of the cement plant in Paulding, Ohio.
One of the highlights of Andrew Robb’s time with Lafarge came in 1998 when he was transferred to Romania. “In early 1998, I was transferred to Romania as part of a small team of Lafarge ex-pats inserted to establish Lafarge procedures in Lafarge Romcim, a small company that Lafarge had acquired in November 1997. I was responsible for establishing all the human resources programs other than compensation and benefits. I coordinated the interviewing of all engineers and managers in the cement plants to determine which ones had the potential to develop into modern engineers and managers. We concluded that only those under 35 had this potential; the others were too infected by the communist system way of doing things.” They lived in Bucharest during 1998 and 1999, and travelled extensively throughout the country and to other eastern European locations.
Andrew Robb retired from Lafarge in February 2000. He remembers, “We landed in Canada on 30 December 1999 to avoid the media-fueled, hysterical predictions of worldwide systems failures on Y2K.” They moved to Kingston at the time and he started to rekindle his association with the College through the Kingston Branch of the RMC Club.
He is certainly enjoying his retirement. “I have now been retired over 14 years,” he says. “I have been active in our condominium corporation’s board of directors, Edith Rankin Memorial United Church, and the Kingston Branch of the RMC Club. We have had a cottage on Bob’s Lake north of Kingston for 33 years now (this is our little bit of heaven on earth), and we’ve also travelled extensively, mainly as part of group travel. For the last few years I have lead travel groups for Craig Travel out of Toronto. We’ve seen a lot of the world.”
Pacific Time is a time travel story set simultaneously in 1964 Victoria and 2014 Edmonton. A young man meets a young lady inside an unusual café which bridges 50 years and 600 miles. She’s aware of the time/space jump; he isn’t. Then there’s that ground breaking feminist novel he thinks her grandmother of identical name and appearance (barring the beehive hairdo)wrote.
This will be David’s seventh one-act produced.