Another Trip Down Memory Lane!

Another trip down memory lane!

St Roch film, by RCMP Sergeant Frederick “Ted” Farrar, Reg # 10607

While I was working at Surrey Detachment, during my retirement, a member there found an old film on the St Roch.  It was marked property of the Vancouver RCMP Veterans’ Association.  He handed it over to me knowing I was on the Executive of our division.  We could not locate a projector to run it on (old technology).  The film was something I would have seen in school when classes were gathered in the auditorium to view National Film Board films back in the 1950s.  No one on the current executive knows, where/when or how our association obtained it.   It was decided to give it to the Maritime Museum, home of the St Roch.   Apparently, the person I sent it to, obviously did nothing with it and it has recently been located.  The museum is going through the process of getting me to sign off a release, which I have done.  They indicate the film is better quality that the version they have….so that is good.

The link to their version is  https://vimeo.com/177487890  thought you might enjoy it.

It appears the film was produced by Sergeant Frederick, “Ted”, Farrar, Reg # 10607, who joined the RCMP in June 1929. Although he was a member of the Identification Section, there is no credit given to the RCMP for producing the film.  He served as first mate on the St. Roch.  He was among the first to circumnavigate North America with Insp. Henry Larsen and later through the Panama Canal with Inspector Kenneth Hall.  He was awarded the Polar Medal.  Cape Farrar on the east side of Boothia Peninsula, Nunavut is named after him.  At the beginning of 1955 while still serving with the Identification Branch in Ottawa he started to write a book, “Arctic Adventures” about his time on the St Roch. Unfortunately he died shortly after.  The book was finished based on his notes and logs.

Sergeant Ted Farrar, Reg # 10607, with a model of the St Roch.
Photo from the RCMP Quarterly

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Schooner “St. Roch” arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 11, 1942, after a gruelling 28-month long voyage from Vancouver, British Columbia, and through the fabled Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. The First Mate of the St. Roch’s crew, Sergeant Frederick Sleigh “Ted” Farrar, Reg. No. 10607, told the story in his 1956 book “Arctic Assignment”:

“On September 22, 1942 as we moved into the cove of the little fishing community of Bateau Harbour on the southern coast of Labrador, a tremendous feeling of relief came over us. The worst was over. At last we were truly free of the threat of another Arctic winter.

Later at Corner Brook in the British colony of Newfoundland our damaged cylinder-head was temporarily repaired and we headed for Sydney, Nova Scotia. On October 7th, we were tied up at the Government Wharf in the famous Cape Breton steel city. Twenty-four hours later, sailing south-west into the late afternoon sun, we passed the Canso light on the Nova Scotia coast. Only twenty-four more hours to go! Next morning the sun burst over us with all the brightness it could muster. The sea around us fairly danced. Off our starboard side, dark green belts of forest girding the rugged, wholesome mainland seemed to reach right into the ocean. We could see, between the green timber belts, the golden fields of farmland crowned by typical clusters of frame buildings. A fair wind bent our sails to the full. Astern of the St. Roch a school of porpoises rolled and dived, then raced behind us for some time. The air was fresh and invigorating that morning as I went below for breakfast. “Well, Mate” Dad Parry was all smiles [Constable William John “Dad” Parry, Reg. No. 7756]. Despite the strenuous experiences of the past two years, his figure showed little sign of change. “This is the day we’ve waited a good many months for. Dear, dear, as much as I love the St. Roch, I’ll sure be glad to put ashore for a spell.”

“Yes, Dad, “I replied, “you won’t be the only one. Even the skipper, Staff Sergeant Henry Asbjorn Larsen, Reg. No. 10407, will be happy to have a rest. And I know I will.”… Then Pat Hunt came into the galley [Constable Patrick George “Pat” Hunt, Reg. No. 12740]. He looked tall and handsome in his uniform. “Skipper says we’ll be picking up the pilot outside Halifax around noon,” said Pat sitting down beside me. “Boy, I’ll sure be glad to have a taste of civilization again!”

Then Dean Hadley came in from the wireless-room [Constable Eugene C. “Dean” Hadley, Reg. No. 13013]. Both he and Pat had come through their first Arctic experiences very well. Both looked extremely happy and fit that morning. “Suppose the old man can fix a nice long leave for us, Mate?” asked Dean. “Well,” laughed Pat before I could answer, “you’re in a pretty good position to send a signal through to Ottawa with a special recommendation for six months’ leave for all of us.”

“My, my,” exclaimed Parry, “you young fellows have been getting ideas aboard this ship. Now, in the old days…” I left the two boys to discuss leave problems with the cook and returned to the wheelhouse.

Larsen was humming to himself and pacing the deck. Jimmy Doyle was at the wheel [Constable John William Doyle, Reg. No. 11768]. “Well, Henry,” I said, “there’s one sure thing. We didn’t make the Northwest Passage in ninety days.” “I’m not sure, Mate,” the captain grinned. “I still figure it can be done.” He paused. “With a certain amount of luck, of course.”

Sea gulls were circling the St. Roch a little later as she moved into Halifax Harbour. The pilot came aboard and, after we passed through the submarine gate [World War 2 defences], it was no time at all before we were tied up safely in the Atlantic post. “Well, there’s the last entry in the book for this trip,” observed the skipper later that day. I looked over his shoulder as he finished writing “…and thus completed the first navigation of the Northwest Passage from West to East, from Vancouver, B.C. to Halifax, N.S…. H. A. Larsen, S/Sgt” The date was Sunday, October 11th, 1942.”

Below are two version of Ted Farrar taking a quiet bath in the high Artic, one being a colourized version of the same scene.  Note the differences, one has one leg showing over the rim of the tub, the other has two legs showing.  Socks are hanging at different angles and a jacket is hanging over the back of the chair in one photo and on the seat of the chair in the other.  Fun times in the Artic!

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