"So I really was put in the hospital to, how shall I put it? I guess, to thaw out. It was just terrible, the weather."
My name is Esther Mary Mager, MAGER. We were at Havergal College in Toronto, even though I enlisted in Montreal. And there, we stayed not for very long and then when it was over, we were very proud, of course, to be in a march with the band along, I forget what street it was, I think it was on Jarvis, because Havergal is on Jarvis. And so that was when we were automatically ready to be posted, which we were.
First, we were posted in [RCAF Station] Saint-Hubert, but not for very long. From there, I was transferred to [RCAF Station] Mont-Joli, Quebec and that was an experience because that’s right on the Gaspé coast, surrounded by the St. Lawrence. The weather there in the winter, horrific. [laughs] The worst ever. Actually, there was a point, I was there, I don’t know for how long, but I was there for a short while, a few, several weeks, months, I don’t remember. I was suffering from exposure because of my training. I was in motor transport, and I was out a lot. So I really was put in the hospital to, how shall I put it? I guess, to thaw out. It was just terrible, the weather.
It was so bad, I remember a trip that I took, the snow was so high, it was impossible. So all the way from my station to the next town, I was following the plow. Otherwise, I could never go because the snow was so deep, it was almost as high as the car. That’s how bad it was. I’ll never forget that trip, you know. And they had snow ploughs that made routes for us to be able to drive to where we had to go. So that was an experience in itself.
It was a bombing and gunnery school and a lot of the planes had to take off from there and there was a lot of crashes. So, many times, we had to go from the station to where the plane crashed and nine times out of ten, there were bodies there when they crashed. Because these were learning, you see. So we had to go to pick up the pieces. And, in fact, you’ll find a lot of pictures I gave her from some of the crashes that I went to.
I had another incident that was very interesting on that route. I had to go to bring food to the two or three guys that were living there. They had little, little stoves that they used to have. It was like a pot belly this big and so high. And it was with I think wood they used to heat. That’s what they used to heat that place, which God only knows if it ever got hot in there. [laughs]
And I used to go there in order to bring them food from the station. They had that stove, the pot belly it is, but they couldn’t cook. It was so filthy, unbelievable. Their cups were all run over, you know. They probably drank from those cups 50 times and when we got there, they offered us a drink because it was so miserably cold. Us, I say ̶ I think I was alone most of the time. So they offered, would you like a hot drink? How could you say no? They were being so nice to offer us a drink when they didn’t have very much there. They had to wait until we brought it. Also, that was en route to the previous one I told you where we went around the river, the St. Lawrence, to the other town, you know, that stopover. That wasn’t on the same trip that we went to pick up the bodies. It was an individual type of trip. But it was part of it. Very interesting, you know. And the St. Lawrence was wild in the winter, I’m talking about, of course, not summer. [laughs]