Cliff Powell's Story

When I started school, I wrote on a slate, spit on it and rubbed off my ABCs, by the light of a kerosene lamp. I was 8 yrs old before we had electricity and then it was a 10-watt bulb in the ceiling. This was in Carbonear, NL, 1939.

On Aug. 15, 1947 we arrived in Gander and lived in at  McNamara’s camps (tar paper covered construction buildings). We got our water supply from the sand washer site where a hose had running water running all the time.

We would get Tom Ivany in a CAD (Civil Aviation Division ) dump truck to go out there to fill our barrels and bring them back to our homes which consisted of approximately 20 families.  This water source was at the Burner Hill site.

I moved out from my family (age 16) and went to work for BOAC, Oct 4, 1947 so I do remember going to the burner with garbage from the Caledonia camps (BOAC). McNamaras camps which were about 5 minutes driving east of the Burner Hill. Later on, my father (Graham Powell) and Walt Russell dug a well.

In 1948 our family moved to 48 Fleet St., on the Army side into a former officers’ building. As our family was large (9 excluding myself), we had a building to ourselves. In front of us was the Salvation Army Citadel.

Although I did not go to school in Gander as I was 16, I had a job working at BOAC. My first job was loading cargo--Royal mail, baggage, catering, etc.

At BOAC we had our own bar (Caribou Club) and I had my own bar tab at 16. I used to sign in “Mr Selby Pike” who many should remember worked at Goodyear’s Store for years.  

After BOAC it was Allied Aviation doing fleet service, then aircraft engines and on to the Commissary.  Fed up with that, I went with Air Traffic Control in 1955. At the same time, I had a train ticket to Quebec to join the RCAF.  I picked ATC and sent the ticket back, which was a good decision.

I had my own garage, doing maintenance and selling cars for Chrysler in my spare time

It was during this time I started playing in the Airport Club orchestra (rhythm  guitar). In 1956 Ed Goff  TCA (Trans Canada Airlines) transferred to Gander from New Brunswick,  and started the Solidaires Orchestra. I bought a double bass and learned to read music and play the instrument.

This is an example of what life was like in early Gander, so much has been taken for granted today that if a catastrophe happened it would be the older people who could survive with their wood stoves, water buckets, and kerosene lamps.

Re my family: Graham is in Halifax; Verena, Edmonton; George, Toronto; Boyd, 6 mos. Toronto--6 mos. Carbonear; Sylvia, Grande Prairie, AB; Mary, deceased—Milton, in 1991.


Brother Graham & Cliff - Gander lake - 1953


Cliff retired as an Air Traffic Controller and now lives in Loon Bay, NL.



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