Boy Scout Jamboree – Australia

Published by at 11:39 am under 1955,Introduction

From December 20, 1955 to January 30, 1956, I was privileged to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime as one of the six scouts and two leaders chosen to represent Canada for the first time at the Pan-Pacific Jamboree at Clifford Park near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The Jamboree officially opened December 30, 1955 and officially closed January 8, 1956. The rest of the time was spent in travel to and from the Jamboree and in touring part of the marvellous States of Victoria and New South Wales. In total, I travelled over 25,000 miles at the tender age of 17.

The trip was made possible by the generous support of people such as Canadian Pacific Airlines who cut the airfare in half, the members of the Australian-Canadian Association which had just been formed earlier in 1955 among the leading personalities in the Canadian business and institutional sectors, the executives and staff at H.V. McKay Massey Harris Pty. Ltd. who looked after so many details of our tours in Australia and finally, the dozens of Australians of all sorts who made our adventure so fabulous.

From east to west, our group consisted of:

Leader – Ken E. Margeson, Kinsac, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Queen’s Scout – Eric Turcotte, Laval West, Quebec
Queens’s Scout – D. Ross Gunn, Oak Ridges, Ontario
Queen’s Scout – Charles W. Conn, Toronto, Ontario
Queen’s Scout – C. David Sadleir, Sarnia, Ontario
Queen’s Scout – Evert E. Klingberg, Port Arthur, Ontario
Queen’s Scout – Don G. Snyder, Edmonton, Alberta
Ass’t Leader – Gord W. Crane, Vancouver, B.C.

We each had to make our own way to and from Vancouver, but from Vancouver to Australia and back to Vancouver we were as solid a unit of Canadian reps as ever left these shores. And boy, did we ever look sharp!
I kept a diary of the trip and what follows is a faithful transcription. I’ve added some punctuation, etc. where doing so helps the flow, but I’ve not changed any words. Occasionally, brackets [] will denote an afternote or clarification insert.

The pictures were taken on an Ansco Memar 35mm (my first!), generously given by John McCutcheon, using Kodachrome. I brought home 10 rolls of film – some 20’s and a few 36’s. I’ve kept a total of 246 which are still in as good shape as they were when first developed as slides more than 50 years ago. In some cases, digitalizing them created a loss of detail.


Charles W. Conn, March 2006

(The editor has decided that, as times change, so the way we express ourselves also changes. Below you will find a dictionary to help you with the “translations”. I’ve also taken some liberties with the text in order to make it clearer to the reader.)

Queer = Weird, odd
Swish = Neat, elegant, beautiful
Hardrocks = tough guys
Dames = young ladies
Good head = great guy, nice person
Billets = Hosts. People who put us up for the night
Chew, Chewed the fat, etc. = Talked, gabbed
Scotch Kiltie = A person wearing a kilt

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Boy Scout Jamboree – Australia”

  1. Michaelon 22 Sep 2012 at 8:40 am

    I found this site whilst looking for pictures of the 1956 Jamboree at Clifford Park as I was interested in the parks history. I visited Clifford Park just yesterday for a drop off and my 11 year old scout is there now for a 4 day camp currently. I pleased to say that Clifford Park is still run as a Scout Activity Centre and has some great facilities, it’s probably quite a lot different to the Jamboree days of 1956 though, much more developed.

    The webpage on it is here btw.l

    Loved the blog on Charlie’s adventures to Australia and the Jamborre, Charlie is the same age as my Mum, and I found the pictures of 1956 Australia and Melbourne and Clifford Park illuminating for how things once were before my time. Also I have visited almost all the towns mentioned in the blog and the photos all round were very interesting.

    Thanks so much.

  2. John Porteron 20 Jul 2017 at 6:41 am

    I attended this Jamboree with 2nd Adamstown (NSW, Australia) Scout Group.
    We travelled down by train from Newcastle. One memory is 6th Hamilton Scottish Leader, a man by the name of Bunny Frew. He came through the carriages with orange juice for the boys. The juice became known as Bunny Frew’s Funny Brew. We slept on sacks filled with hay, which was replaced regularly. It was a huge camp with scouts from many countries. We took advantage of being able to leave camp and sightsee Melbourne city and surrounds. I was thirteen at the time and now at 75, still consider the Jamboree as one of my life’s highlights.

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