Boy Scout Jamboree – Australia

Published by 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

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Flying Times and Altitudes

Published by under 1955,Introduction

Vancouver to Honolulu – 11 hours @ 10,000′
Honolulu to Fiji – 13 hours @ 12,000′
Fiji to Aukland – 5 hours @ 13,500′
Aukland to Sydney – 2 hours @ 8,000′

[Didn’t record times on the way back]

Sydney to Aukland @ 19.000′
Aukland to Fiji @ 16,500′
Fiji to Canton Island @ 11,000′
Canton Island to Honolulu @ 19,000′
Honolulu to Vancouver @ 11,000′

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Tues. Dec. 20, 1955. Sudbury

Published by under 1955,Dec. 20

Miles Today – 260.

[I travelled to Vancouver in a sleeper car on CPR’s “The Canadian”]

Left Toronto 5 p:m. Had tremendous supper. Read a bit. Talked to Captain Irvin, friend of Mac McCutcheon, from Port Arthur.

Time: 12:15AM [the 21st]. Been in Sudbury since 11:15 pm. Just leaving now. In bed.

[9:30PM, Mr. Irvin, Captain of the Golden Hind, biggest lake freighter – grain. Salt water ticket too. $1200 month – 3.5 months off a year. Bound for 3 months in Florida. Good friend of the “Mac” McCutcheons.]

Did geometry then went up to observation deck. Saw nothing but rock, rock, rock & snow. Most desolate scenery at night. Train lights make the scene rather queer.

Sudbury was 20 below 0F. We got off, had coffee, went outside. Nostrils froze on inside – very weird.

Now I hit the sack.

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Wed. Dec. 21, 1955. Winnipeg

Published by under 1955,Dec. 21

Miles Today – 1070. Miles to Date – 1330.4

Train is, at this point. 2.5 hours behind. Will pick up on prairie.

Took 16 pictures today. I don’t know how they came out – if they came out.

White River was 30F below 0. We went outside to take pictures.
Met Eric Turcotte on train. Nice guy.

Spent day eating, looking, taking pictures. Morning fine. Afternoon cloudy.

Port Arthur and Fort William not bad. North Ontario, all along route to Port and Fort [north of Superior country] most magnificent scenery I’ve ever seen.

Know everybody on the train now. Train’s just leaving Winnipeg. Hills, mountains, gorges, ice, snow, deep snow, Lake Superior – very awe-inspiring

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Thurs, Dec. 22, 1955. West of Field BC

Published by under 1955,Dec. 22

Miles today – 890. Miles to Date – 2220

We have been stopped for the last two hours by a snowslide.

We had to back up three miles so plow could get ahead of us.

All day we passed over flat prairie. Nothing but flat and rolling. Medicine Hat quite hilly, then more flat. Got some good pictures, I hope.

Cluster of squares out of flat emptiness form a town. Great country.

We left Calgary at 5:30 pm. From then on mountains started. Beautiful, awe-inspiring. Most rugged, powerful scenery in the world, I’m sure.

It has been dark in the mountain part but moon and spotlight do a fair job. From the dome, mountains can be seen.

Know everyone of train staff.

[At supper, met two Air Force chaps on their way to Vancouver. First Christmas home in three years. They’d been in Germany]


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Friday, Dec. 23, 1955 Vancouver

Published by under 1955,Dec. 23

Miles Today – 5. Miles to Date – 2700.

Warm and Rainy.

Snowslide held us up for 4 hours last night. Arrived in Vancouver 6.5 hours late.

The mountains were absolutely indescribable. Never before has man been able to see such spectacles as these mountains and that train trip through the Rockies.

I finished my first roll of film. I just hope a few of the pictures turn out.

I’m bunking at the home of Mr. Jones, head of the Fairview Boys’ Club.

Saw Vancouver’s main streets in lights tonight. More neon per mile than any other city in North America. It’s a city of hardrocks.

Met Sadleir at the station but didn’t get much chance to speak to him.

Tomorrow, the whole contingent meets at Headquarters. Also a tour of city by Mr. Jones.

(Hoodoos in the mountains. Fraser Valley)

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Saturday, Dec. 24, 1955 – Vancouver

Published by under 1955,Dec. 24

Miles Today – 0. Miles to Date – 2700

Rained all day, clearing in late afternoon. Christmas Eve and no snow! Very strange. Slept till 11:30 this morning.
Mr. Jones took me on a tour of part of the city. Saw English Bay, the beaches, swank section of town, the airport, the log booms of BC lumber (50% of BC’s money comes from lumber) and the University of British Columbia.

This is a very beautiful city. Only 400,000 population but is spread out over area much greater than that of Toronto.

Saw the city at night from Grouse Mountain. The most beautiful sight to see the whole city spread out in lights below.

Met the whole contingent today. A great bunch! Margeson’s a scotch kiltie. Got crests and neckerchiefs.

Have to leave all winter clothes behind as 44 pounds is total baggage allowed on the plane.

Some of the guys have $200 spending money.

Merry Christmas

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Sun., Dec. 25, 1955. Hawaii

Published by under 1955,Dec. 25

Waikiki Beach. Miles Today – 2738. Miles to Date – 5438

Got to Honolulu 11:00 PM (4AM the next day EST). At night, the city is beautiful.

Christmas Day. No snow. Here in Hawaii it is 74 degrees at night.
Felt a bit sick at first but view of Vancouver from the air is magnificent. All in all, the flight was marvellous. We had turkey and steak dinners on the plane.Taxi took us to Princess Kaiulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach. The answer to a dream. Brand new, deluxe rooms, porch, wall to wall rugs. Porch overlooks Waikiki, beautiful swimming pool, magnificent view. All sorts of handsome people and cars wandering around. Luxury is the only word.

Yesterday, we had a bit of a Christmas at Jones’s house. The day was bright and clear. Said goodbye and flew off at 2:30 PM.

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Dec. 26/27, 1955 Hawaii/Fiji

Published by under 1955,Dec. 26,Dec. 27

Miles Today – 3190. Miles to Date – 8628

This morning had a shower, Hawaiian breakfast.
Went to the beach and saw the International Surfboard Championships. Took pictures galore. Swam in Waikiki Beach. Was very hot, the water and the air. Later, I swam in the hotel’s pool.

Honolulu is beautiful in daylight, too. Saw Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Palm trees
and banyans all over. Beautiful, luxurious!

Flew from Honolulu at 2:30PM. Had lunch at the airport restaurant. Very swish.
[Mr. W. Woolett, Manager of CPA for South Pacific Region, hosted our lunch at the Honolulu Airport.]

Crossed International dateline and equator. Stopped at Fiji to pick up people, got new crew. Humidity is 90% or over, all the time. Temperature at night is 80F. Only 8 degrees below equator. Gad, I dripped.

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Wed. Dec. 28, 1955 Pan Pacific Jamboree

Published by under 1955,Dec. 28

Melbourne, Australia. Miles Today – 3200. Miles to Date – 11828

Early this morning we touched down at Auckland, New Zealand. The country is really beautiful from the air, like Prince Edward Island.

The mechanics had to replace spark plugs in Auckland. Then, on the way to Sydney, one of the engines quit and we had to land on three.

In Sydney, we were met by Mr. Hunt and Mr. Knight. Pictures were taken. We were taken to lunch at Pymble Club, then went on a tour over the famous Sydney Bridge and around the city and to the beaches. Man, is Sydney ever huge. It’s montrous and beautiful. The houses, shops and people are all so different from what you would see in Toronto. The driving really throws you because they drive on the left.

[Had lunch with Mr. Hunt & Mr. Knight of Australian Massey Harris, at the Pymble Golf Club. They took us on a short tour of Sydney.]

At. 6:00PM we flew by ANSETT airlines to Melbourne. It was raining and had been for days. My shoes were mud but our tent had been erected. Destination achieved.

[I’d bought a new pair of shiny black patent leather shoes to look smart at the Jamboree. They were completely soaked and mud-covered on the first day of the Jamboree and were never quite the same again.]

Auckland, NZ Airportleaving new zealand

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