KAGAWONG – While he served in the Canadian army for three years, one memory of his time serving stands out more than any other for Bud Dearing of Kagawong.
“On November 11, 1963 our crew was part of the honour guard marching at Vimy Ridge,” stated veteran William Robert (Bud) Dearing of Kagawong. “That meant a lot to me. It is one of those things that was a real important moment in my life. To stand in front of that monument at Vimy Ridge … If that doesn’t get you right in the heart than you are totally different than most other people.”
Mr. Dearing said, “I recall a couple a years ago the ceremonies for the 100th anniversary of World War II with all the dignitaries sitting in the front. It was nothing but a lot of politicians. They made it such a political thing. They should have left the politics out and have actual veterans give the speeches. They should have had more veterans on hand giving speeches and providing remarks, instead of the people they did have, including all the politicians.”
Mr. Dearing was born in Ice Lake on February 23, 1944 to Jim and Lizzie (nee Brown) Dearing. He had two brothers, Gary and Danny, and one of them called me ‘his buddy,’ he told the Recorder. “This was eventually shortened to Bud.” He was named after his grandfathers, Bill and Robert.
“I have spent most of my life in Ice Lake, despite moving to Toronto with my parents when I was one, so my dad could join the army during World War II,” said Bud. “He was part of the military police that served in England.”
His family returned to the Island to live before he was 10 years old, living on the 6th Line, now known as Nelson Road.
Bud and his wife Margaret, “have only been back living on the Island for the past six years,” he told the Recorder, pointing out they had moved to Beamsville, Ontario in 1985. “I lived in Ice Lake until I was 17.”
He left school and Ice Lake to join the Canadian army two days after his 17th birthday. “I stayed in the Canadian army for three years starting in 1961,” he told the Recorder. The first six months from February 1961 to September that year, he delivered the Toronto Star to corner stores and newspaper boxes until he could officially get into the army.
“I played soldier,” he stated, noting two years were spent in Germany. “We were there in case anything broke out.”
“I always wanted to be a part of the Canadian military. My dad had been in the army, and although he never talked much about it, I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Mr. Dearing said.
His basic training had taken place in London, Ontario and Camp Ipperwash. “I went to Germany in November 1962.” His regiment went to the Canadian base, Fort York, outside of Soest, Germany. “Basically it was training for peace time.” It was during this stay that he was part of the 100 soldiers that that paraded beside the war moment as part of the Honour Guard at Vimy Ridge on November 11, 1963. “It was an emotional experience,” he said.
“We were all part of the NATO,” said Bud. “It was a NATO commitment like there is still today in case Putin decides to attack someone else.”
“And in the summer of 1963, I think that was the year, my contingent took part in the Niemagen Marche, held in Belgium. Groups of 30 soldiers and civilians from all over the world walked 40 kilometres a day for four days. These marches still go on today.”
He told the Recorder, “the Dutch loved the Canadians and we would occasionally be surprised with a bottle of beer or wine when we stopped for the day. One of my buddies from southern Ontario actually found his dad’s gravestone at the Canadian War Cemetery.”
As well as his father having been in the forces, Bud’s brother Dan joined the forces and served for six years. “He was a year older than me and I was living in Toronto. We joined two days apart in September 1961. In my case, my aunt was able to sign the papers I needed to get into the army and make it legal. You couldn’t join if you were under 18. No, my brother Dan and I were in totally different outfits. He was serving when he had to be stationed in the Gaza Strip in 1966 when there was a big uprising there.”
“I guess it was kind of a family affair with my father and my brother having been in the army. It was something I thought of even as a young man that I wanted to do,” added Bud.