Chris Ford is a product of Winnipeg and St. Paul’s High School. He entered Royal Roads in 1966.
As a teenager, Chris was in cadets and the reserves, which inspired him to go all the way.
“Besides, my father wanted me to follow his foot-steps and become a doctor – so I had to rebel against something!”
Memories from those early days 52 years ago?
“First memory: angry people not much older than me yelling at me as soon as I stepped off the bus, for no apparent reason. Second memory: graduating with honours from Manitoba is no assurance of academic success in a system based on Ontario Grade 13. I had a failing average at Christmas, but managed to achieve an above average by year-end. Third memory: playing snare drum in the band was very therapeutic – nothing like beating out one’s frustrations on a drum that doesn’t lay charges or give circles!”
You are a proud member of the RMC Class of 1970; share with us some of four year memories.
“I remember the RSM – CWO Rocky McManus. A very demanding, meticulous man, a true master of his trade. Somehow he seemed to understand that even though the drill of the Pipes and Drums may never meet his standard, the music was Oh! so sweet!
Meeting Corporal Dave Kirkpatrick in clothing stores, he was born on the Isle of Man just as I was; this chance meeting led to a life-long friendship. I have vague memories of the academic staff, equally they would have vague memories of me, yet all were very helpful and supportive in getting this Manitoba boy though the Science (Applied) program!”
What do you consider your biggest challenge(s) while attending milcol?
I was not a “natural” in what are now called the four pillars of the RMC education. I had no delusions that I would ever win awards for academic brilliance, athletic prowess, military leadership or bilingualism. But after a rough start (Year One!) I decided to give it my best shot, and with the help of many others – peers, seniors, profs, mil staff – I made it through and went on to a pretty successful and rewarding career.”
“Thanks to integration then unification then back to three separate services, I actually served in all three. Enrolled as a naval officer cadet, graduated and commissioned as an Air Tech/CE officer, which then amalgamated with the (then) former Royal Canadian Engineers to form the Canadian Military Engineers.
Served in both Combat and Construction Engineering assignments. Highlights: served in Germany in the 70s, commanded 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in the 80s, attended Indian Defence Forces Staff College, operational tours in Bosnia in the 90s (ECMM and NATO). Retired in 2001 after 35 years service.”
Post CAF time?
“I went back to school (Carleton U) to do a post-grad program in Conflict Resolution. This led to a stint at Citizenship and Immigration as Director of Conflict Resolution, then back to Defence in 2006 as DG Alternative Dispute Resolution until 2011.
I’ve also been very active in Toastmasters International for over 35 years, the highlight of which was a term as International President in 2007-08. Now I have my own small business: Generally Speaking, which offers consulting services in communication, leadership and conflict resolution.”
You’re the 1970 Class Secretary; how long have you filled this post?
“Seems like forever! OK, not quite true. I was elected (using the term very loosely) at our 30th reunion in 2000. How did I end up with the position? Well I certainly didn’t campaign for it; I think it was railroad democracy at it’s finest! I took over from Peter Ludorf (may he R.I.P.) who had done an awesome job for over 15 or 20 years. Happy to serve, but if a classmate wants to take over my job, I would not stand in his way!”