Legacy Dinner photo – (L-R) Bob Carr; Tony O’Keeffe; back to camera – John Cowan; and Chris Carr
The ‘ex’ takes more meaning a few years down the road
A/SLt 24498 Noelani Shore (RMC 2009)
One thing 5337 Robert Carr (CMR RMC 1963) learned from the Royal Military College is how to get things done.
“Some people have said, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person – don’t give it to someone with nothing to do.’ And I think there’s a lot of merit in that. You somehow work it in. I think a lot of people graduating from [RMC] can multi-task, more so than others,” Carr said.
To escape the chaos of his teen years, Carr decided to join the Navy and follow his older brother to RMC. His family has a strong military history, as his father graduated from RMC as well.
“My dad graduated in 1931. And his younger brother graduated in 1932 or 1933. My dad was the equivalent of the CWC. He did very well at RMC. He was such a wonderful leader,” said Carr. “He was president of the ex-cadet club. He was very involved. He loved RMC, and he had a lot of volunteer jobs in Montreal – he was president of the school board in Montreal. He was just a fun-loving, happy person, and a strong business leader.”
Carr’s father did not pursue a military career until after the war broke out, when he served five years overseas.
“He landed in Normandy in July 1944, and he left the service in Oct 1945. He was very much in the thick of battle in the end of 1944, for six months,” said Carr.
As the Commanding Officer of the 26th Battery of the Royal RCA, he wrote all of his movements down in a report.
“[It was] pretty clinical, not too much emotion, but it was all there.”
From this report, the three Carr siblings and spouses retraced their father’s path in June 2008.
“We retraced dad’s RCA path through France, Belgium and Holland, from his Arromanches landing on 7 July 1944, to Nijmegen in Dec 1944 – a spectacular adventure,” Carr said.
Carr’s uncle, Jim Carr, graduated from RMC and took what was called an Imperial Commission, “which meant he served in the British Army his whole life,” said Carr. “He ended up as a Brigadier in the Royal Engineers.”
“The whole idea of ship operations didn’t appeal to me as a career path. And so the last year and a half of my three years of my obligatory period I was in a ship repair yard in Esquimalt, which I absolutely enjoyed,” he said.
Working in the ship yard proved to be a great learning experience, and it helped him with his career later in life.
“We refitted all the ships on the West Coast. You end up with a mountain of paper to overhaul a ship – it’s quite a lengthy process to make that happen. So I got to work on the planning side, the engineering side, and the technical implementation side, scheduling the dry-docks, and things like that,” Carr said.
Carr joined RMC with a family tradition of involvement in the military, and he took away a lot of experiences the college had to offer. Being surrounded by the Francophone culture was a unique opportunity that Carr took advantage of.
“I had two years of Francophone roommates, and that was the most enriching experiences of both CMR and RMC, because then you really get to know the person. I am forever grateful to my Francophone friends who taught me how to laugh, and to be less serious about life,” said Carr. “Coming from St. Jean, and a real lover of Quebec, and lover of the bilingual nature of our country, I’m always curious about the French side of our population. That’s one of the things I like the most. Learning about the Francophone culture is something I cherish to this day.”
While he has returned to RMC nearly every five years since graduating, Carr realizes that “the ‘ex’ takes more meaning a few years down the road,” he said.
As an ex-cadet, Carr works hard to keep RMC graduates connected. He is the president of the RMC club for the Hamilton area. It’s a tough job, because “it’s geographically diverse. The Hamilton branch is sort of a collage of everything outside of Toronto. It’s hard to get people to focus on one thing,” he said.
After retiring from the military in 1966, Carr worked with a dry-walling company. He later became part owner of the company that exported Canadian-made, Canadian-designed machinery.
“In the last 14 years, we started a business, and it was exporting Canadian-made, Canadian-designed machinery to China, and to all over the world. I was part owner of this company, as the engineering manager of the company. We designed and built drywall manufacturing plants, and we really achieved a prominent position in world trade.”
Carr, and his wife, Maggie, are very involved in their community and enjoy taking part in many activities.
“We’ve been quite active in community development where we live, which is Hamilton. Most recently, we’re very involved in the art gallery of Hamilton. One of the things we enjoy is the Citizenship Committee, where new immigrants take the citizenship oath. It’s not a very onerous job, but it’s just fun to meet new Canadians coming in,” Carr said.
“It makes us feel even prouder to be Canadian, I think. It’s a wonderful position to have,” Maggie added.
There are a lot of things to take away from RMC, and it was a good stepping stone for Carr. Working through the stresses, and accepting responsibility for things like sports, academics, and volunteer activities like running the yearbook helped Carr build a strong foundation.
“I played West Point a few times, and that was quite an experience. The first time we went to West point, they had a rink that was so large, that they had two hockey games going on at once – they put nets back to back at centre ice. When the game started, I made one rush down the length of the ice and I was ruined for the rest of the game, because I was totally exhausted. It was a big sheet of ice,” Carr said.
“Working through those pressures of RMC was always rewarding in terms of the respect you garner from other people as an individual, and developing those relationships for a lifetime,” said Carr.
Carr’s class has just donated the money to build the Wall of Honour.