McNamara's Camp

by Frank Tibbo

It was never possible to purchase a house on the airport. From 1936 to 1952, there was no town, those who lived here resided on the airport in temporary war-time housing built for the military base. The exceptions were a few houses on Chestnut street and a couple of houses built for managers of oil companies. There were times when jobs were available but accommodation was practically impossible.

When the airport was under construction, contractors were obliged to build temporary "camps" to house their workers. McNamara was one such company that built a mini-community of ten buildings on the eastern section of the airport not far from the button of Runway 09, and within 100 metres of the present Canadian Forces Base.



And so it came about that after the construction was over for McNamara's that their temporary buildings were in high demand by permanent workers who wanted to bring their families to Gander. The living conditions were primitive but relatively comfortable and the little families were happy to be together. The toilets were of the outdoor variety. Water was procured from a hose connected to, what one person described as, a 'rocked-in' spring.

The late Frank Goulding and his family took up residence in McNamara's in 1946. He worked as a cook with BOAC and also worked with the Atlas Construction Company.

Goulding had asked McNamara's if he could rent one of the buildings for his family and they agreed - at $10.00 per month. Others soon got the same idea and Goulding was given the job of collecting the $10.00 rent from each of them for which he received his building rent-free.

The families who lived there were at various times:

BOWE, Frank and Helen (Bowes moved in June 1947 & lived there five years
BURRY, Sid (when Sid moved out his brother moved in)
BUTLER, Joe & Ethel
CHAFFEY, Harold and Sadie
CLARKE, Lockhart
DOYLE, Herb and Genevieve
EZEKIEL, Fred and Bride (Jo Brinston)
FOLEY, Fred and Queen
FREAKE, Gordon and Ivy (Ivy was Stan Watermnan's daughter)
GOULDING, Mr. & Mrs. Frank
HARNUM, Mr & Mrs.
HOUNSELL, Mr. & Mrs. Don
HUSSEY, Jorden and Kate
IVANY, (2 brothers, 1 married, 1 single)
KILEY, Leonard and Rita
LANE, Art and Beatrice
LANE, John and Becky
PRITCHETT, Ben and Elsie
RITCHETT, Willis and Vicky
POWELL, Graham and Elizabeth
REYNOLDS Rosie and Bern
RICHARDS, Mr. & Mrs. Joe
RICHARDS, Mr. & Mrs. Ned
SNOW, Mr. & Mrs.
WATERMAN, Mr. & Mrs. Art
WATERMAN, Bill and Netta
WATERMAN, Cyril (married to F. Goulding's daughter)
WATERMAN, Stan and Minnie
WILKINS, Russ and Amanda

BOAC Camps were in the same area, those buildings had been associated with an anti-aircraft battery site.

The late Ev. Milley, the first post-master for Gander, said there were four post offices on the old airport: one in the Terminal (RAF) with 24 hour service, one in South Camps (Probably a combination of BOAC Camp and McNamara's Camp) and two for the Canadian Army.


contributed by F. Tibbo


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