by George Dyke….
This year for our annual fall outing we headed southwest on a day trip to the shores of Lake Erie to visit the HMCS Ojibwa submarine in Port Burwell.
We kicked off the day meeting at 9:30 AM at the McDonalds in Milton, Ontario. Milton is just west of Toronto and it not only provided a good location for members to converge, but an ideal starting point to keep the entire trip on country roads.
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The weather was perfect; sunny and just a cool enough breeze that let those of us with convertibles have the top back and not feel overheated.
Our convoy this year consisted of 2 2CVs (Roland Voegele and myself along with my wife Marijke), a DS21 (Neil and Linda Johnston), 2 Traction Avant 11 BLs (Harriott Nixon and Roy Pope and Gord Linkletter and his girlfriend Fannie), a Traction Avant 11B Normale (John McCulloch and Chris Deja) and a SM (Jeff Teerlinck and his neighbour Martin). Club member Elizabeth Mathews came along and drove with Roland in his 2CV.
We went along the top of the Niagara Escarpment from Milton and down the famous twisty curves of Appleby Line and Britannia Rd. where John discovered that it helps to make sure your battery terminals are tight! From there we headed south west around Dundas, meeting up with Pierre Cambillard and Lloyd McBride in Pierre’s Audi. (Pierre’s 2 DS need some suspension work and Lloyd’s GS is awaiting a new gearbox to be installed, so the the Audi was their ride for the day).
After a scooting along the shores of the Grand River for a bit, we headed south on Hwy 6 to Hagersville where Sietse Elsinga and his wife Petra met us in their D Super coming over from the Beamsville area. After a bathroom break and brief snack at our Canadian staple coffee chain Tim Hortons, we headed south to Port Dover and took the scenic north shore route along Lake Erie to Port Burwell.
We had made prior arrangements to get a tour of the sub and what a tour it was; The HMCS Ojibwa is an Oberon-class submarine that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from the mid-1960’s and later the Canadian Forces Maritime Command to the mid-1990’s. The tour guide that took our group, Fred, was actually a sub mariner who served on the HMCS Okanagan. a Canadian navy sister-sub to the HMCS Ojibwa. He gave us not only a detailed walk through of the sub showing its workings, but he was also able to give us a feel for how life actually was like on-board the nearly 300 foot long boat. It was fascinating! All crew members had to know every aspect of the submarine, although specialized in their own right, had to know every aspect of the submarine in case they were needed to perform a particular role in an emergency! Fred encouraged us to try to squeeze our frames into the bunk beds, and try to imagine how 53 men and 7 officers could manage to work and co-exist inside there with two 16-cylinder diesel engines, two electric motors creating of 6,000 shaft horsepower creating 4,500 kW of power, batteries that weigh as much as a Boeing 747, and 24 torpedoes on board. Inside temperatures could vary in range as much as 100 degrees depending on what ocean you were in! And you had to be prepared to escape through a tube in an instant, as major compartments could fill with water in a matter seconds!
After the tour we headed north to Paris Ontario. Along the way some of us got to take a course in changing a D tire as Sietse experienced a blow-out of his front Michelin tire that ironically Roy had pointed out earlier in the day was quite worn. In any event, the spare was quickly mounted and we continued on to Paris where we had dinner at Camp 31, known for having superlative BBQ ribs and pulled pork. They didn’t disappoint. We gorged ourselves on peanuts and beer before sitting down to feast that made us feel that we didn’t need to eat anything for the rest of the weekend!
We said our goodbyes after dinner and headed our separate ways, really enjoying the camaraderie and knowledge about submarines that we gained from the day.