Chasse-Galerie 2016: 5893 Dr. Tom Gee (1963) – Going for the grand-slam
E3161 Victoria Edwards (2003) interviewed 5893 Dr. Tom Gee (1963), one of fifteen Ex-Cadets who will raise money for the Danny McLeod Athletic Endowment Fund by paddling a voyageur canoe from Ottawa to Kingston this September, 2016. You can make a pledge or donation at www.rmcclubfoundation.ca.
Victoria Edwards: This will be your 4th fund-raising canoe trip down the Rideau. Why was it important to you to support the Athletic Endowment Fund?
Dr. Tom Gee: When 8788 Geoff Bennett’s invitation to the initial Chaisse-Galerie came to me in 2001, I jumped at it. Geoff Bennett, the instigator of Chaisse-Galerie, contacted me in 2001, and again in 2006, 2011, and 2016 to crew. And the physical education pillar has always been a pillar I could support unquestionably, so I’ve been involved ever since. That pillar of the College probably impacted me more than the other three; certainly as much as the academic, and more than the military or francophone.
Victoria Edwards: Do you have any canoeing experience? Any lessons learned?
Dr. Tom Gee: I’ve always canoed, and when I was teaching after leaving the Naval Air branch, I taught canoeing to my senior high school boys after hours. I also involved my sons in the sport. This past summer I canoed the Yukon River, a fast, tame river with no rapids, from Whitehorse to Dawson with a mixed group of adults. When the guide, his mother and our team of 9 paddlers camped alongside of the Yukon River, we hoped for no wolves. Lessons learned: don’t stand up in a canoe!
Victoria Edwards: What sports did you participate in at Military College? Today?
Dr. Tom Gee: All the usual, of course; and I was on the representative swim team at Roads and the gymnastic rep. team at Kingston. I recently quit curling, because I preferred to quit before my knee popped while delivering a rock. I continue to ski, windsurf and snowboard.
Victoria Edwards: What are your recommendations for this canoe trip?
Dr. Tom Gee: The jobs haven’t been assigned yet. At 75, as senior man in the crew, I expect to be a consultant only. I recently canoed from Whitehorse to Dawson with a group, so I feel confident I can still canoe the Rideau. It is not the physical strength I worry about, it is the mental ability. I am relatively healthy, fortunately, with the exception of having the lenses of my eyes replaced. My goal is to survive alive, I guess; both myself and the other old timers in the 2016 group. In the past, I performed scribe duties such as writing a historical record of the trip, taking photographs and to be boson, traditionally a crew member responsible for keeping the hull, rigging and sails in good repair.
Victoria Edwards: At RRMC you were a member of the `Terrible 10`?
Dr. Tom Gee: I was a member of the first class to take Arts as a degree program, a concept of Dr. Cook, Director of Studies at Royal Roads. Fifty years ago is hard for me to be certain of now, but I think the “terrible ten” were the first English majors in 1960, in our second year at Roads. I realized in first year at Royal Roads that I was not academically gifted and was not destined to be an engineer. I found pure math and integral calculus interesting, but I struggled to apply differential calculus to what I was learning in Physics and Electricity courses. I don’t think I mastered the slide rule in first year Roads either, and struggled through a supplemental exam in first year Electrical Physics. The left hand and right hand rule, a common mnemonic for understanding notation conventions for vectors in 3 dimensions in Mathematics and Physics, completely eluded me. Dr. Cook’s new Arts Programme had a high proportion of time devoted to Mathematics and Science anyway… just to be safe.
Victoria Edwards: What did you study at RMC? Outline your career progression since leaving the College. Any highlights?
Dr. Tom Gee: At Kingston, I continued in the degreed Arts program with majors in English, and History as minor, I think, for the latter, and graduated with a BA in ’63. I served as a naval pilot in the 1960s. I flew 63-66 HMS Bonaventure, Canada’s only carrier planes, which never really came out of refit in 1966. The Japanese bought it and converted it into a floating university. I flew Sea King helicopters, and tracker folding wing anti- submarine aircraft. When I left the Naval Air Branch in 1966 ( Defence Minister Paul Hellyer scrapped it!), I entered the University of Calgary to take their BA After Degree program, so I could teach school, which I did for six years. I never finished the After Degree, but switched into the MA thesis route in English, and graduated with a Masters in English Methodology in 1970. That was a highlight at the time, I guess. In 1975, I joined the Alberta government in the Department of Education, Grande Prairie regional office, as a consultant in language arts. I retired from the Alta. government 21 years later in 1996 as a department director, and I’ve been retired ever since. Another highlight!
Victoria Edwards: What are you up to, these days?
Dr Tom Gee: Since 2014, I’ve been putting a lot of miles on my F-type Jaguar, a honey of a car designed by car designed in Europe. I recently drove it to Scottsdale for a few days R&R. I intended to drive my BMW LT the 3 Flags from Regina through the United States, and into Mexico, in 2013 however we didn’t get into Mexico because of cartel troubles.
I volunteer on the board of the Osoyoos Desert Society (photo above), a non-profit organization in the southernmost corner of British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Osoyoos Desert Centre, a 67-acre dry, shrub-grassland, which is popularly referred to as Canada’s pocket desert. I ride my motorcycle all over southern B.C. in the Spring delivering rack cards to Visitor Information Centers (VICs), ferries, and motels. I give tours along the Centre’s 1.5 km boardwalk, the interpretive building, and the native plant demonstration garden. www.desert.org/index.php/desert-centre.html
I continue to love to travel. Recently, I was looking at wild animals on the gorgeous veldts in Victoria Farms, South Africa: lions, honey badger, Cape buffalo, gnus, antelope impala, hippo, rhinos, warthogs, gators, hyena, and elephant. In the 40 degree summer heat, the roads were fairly rugged and demanding of our jeeps. A highlight was when an elephant pushed a bus over on its side in the process of scratching itself. I came back with an ironwood souvenir black & tan sculpture of a Cape buffalo, rhino and elephant. I took a Caribbean cruise. I went windsurfing at Bon Air windsurf site in Dominican Republic and Hood River, Columbia.
Our aim at e-Veritas is to conduct one-on-one interviews with all 15 participants (in no particular order) over the next few months of e-Veritas editions.
5893 Dr. Tom Gee ‘63
8788 Geoff Bennett ‘71
8836 Clark Little ‘71
8926 Ray Hook ‘71
9143 Bruce McAlpine ‘72
12192 Tom Lawson ‘79
M0288 Roxanne Rees ‘83
8710 Chuck Lemieux ‘71
15566 Helga Grodzinski ‘86
22461 Claire Bramma ‘02
27173 William Carpentier (RMCC) ‘18
27369 Andréanne Tremblay (RMCSJ) ‘20