Veteran Stories:
Isobel Mary Farr Duclos

Army

  • Ms. Isobel Duclos while on leave in Parrysound in 1943.

    Isobel Duclos
  • Picture taken at Camp X circa 1943-1944, from the book "Inside Camp X" by Lynn-Philip Hodgson, Black Books Distribution.

    Black Books Distribution
  • Personnel of the Canadian Women's Army Service Corps on the march, Parrysound, circa Summer 1943-1944.

    Isobel Duclos
  • Isobel Duclos' Discharge Certificate dated March 18th, 1946.

    Isobel Duclos
  • Ms. Isobel Duclos, March 2012.

    Isobel Duclos
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"[The] Provosts went there and they spoke [to my parents]. No, she is not allowed to tell you anything, and you’re not allowed-, if she happens to slip out anything, you just say you don’t know where she is and what she’s doing. "

Transcript

[Wartime service at Camp X] My training, we just had basic training. We went to Kitchener, and did the training in Kitchener, Ontario. Well, we learned to march and go on parades on different days, like days where they were talking about wars, then they had us go and parade. But you see then, when I went into Camp X I didn’t have anything to do with that anymore [Camp X was the unofficial name of a commando and paramilitary training installation on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario]. I just worked at Camp X sending messages to Britain and receiving them and handing them over to my... the men that were over me. Well, it was top secret. Top secret. You were not to speak about anything. You were allowed to go home, but a provost took you to the station, picked you up and brought you back. I had no... I couldn’t go out around in Parry Sound, I could just go home to my parents. And they were already told that it was top secret. Like they... Provosts went there and they spoke. No, she is not allowed to tell you anything, and you’re not allowed-, if she happens to slip out anything, you just say you don’t know where she is and what she’s doing. Well, I was 18 at the time, and I kind of felt like I was pretty well on my own. And I felt that I was pretty proud of myself that I was the first one in our town that went to the war. Well, I wasn’t in the war, but I mean went out of Parr Sound and went into camp-, like I went into Camp X. I was very lucky to get into Camp X; there was an American girl and I that were chosen to go to Camp X. And it was all top secret. We were just north of Lake Ontario, and there was a beautiful... they trained the spies there, where I was. Mind you, I wasn’t with the spies, but that’s where they trained the spies. And they had to climb up mountains and do all kinds of things to get their training, and then we went in, the Army girls went in, and we just took over from there. But we didn’t do any of that. We just sent the messages to Britain and they sent it back. But these-, the chaps that were the spies, they went over to Britain in different places, but you couldn’t talk about them. We worked shift work; 12 hours days, 12 hours nights. And we could go to the cafeteria and have our dinner and go and have lunch or something. Well, they did that with us at Camp X too. When we were working we would go up to where the... they had the food hall out, and we could eat what we want and then come back. We had nice accommodation, but there was only two girls there. And that was the American girl and myself. And we just went once every month or something, and the provost had to take us to the train and then bring us back. And we never got into Toronto. Actually, mother and dad had-, they were told that it was top secret. So they were not to ask me any questions. I could go home and visit them and go around, but that was all they wanted to know. That I was able to get home. Because it was so top secret, a lot of the stuff we were sending to Britain and back was that if we got it out into the public, or whatever, then it would’ve been... it would’ve been a real bad thing. I probably would’ve been told I couldn’t do it anymore. You had no complaints. You weren’t called. They took you when you were on holidays, they had the provost come and pick you up at the camp, take you to the union station, bring you back. No, they treated you very well. And the food was great. And you could go at night when you... just before you went to bed, and we had card games, we had poker games. We had lots of things to do, and we had very good quarters. And we were able to get out, but we couldn’t go out into the town and talk to people about what was happening; that was secret. So I guess if we ever did that they would’ve had us gone. But I enjoyed my life there. I had a wonderful time. And there were men and women both working there. When they picked us to do this, they knew your personality. I think that’s how they do it. We had a lot of fun in ours. Because we were able to go and get lunch or dinner or if we were-, at night before we went to bed we could go, they always had the table all set out with fruit and vegetables. And we were right in a... where we were stationed, where they had all the mines. It was like just up off north of Lake Ontario, and there were all kinds of trees with apples on and plums on and we could go and get-, we knew who were the... the mines were. So we did have a good time. I think my years there were happier than my years when I was young. Because we were very competitive; we always worked together well. And we knew we were doing-, of course I was older. And we knew we were doing something special. And we just did it. And no, I enjoyed it. We were chosen to go and asked if we’d go, and we did. And I never gave it another thought. Well, I had joined the Army, and that was a good job for me. Because I didn’t have any Army experience on the-, with fighting or anything. So I really felt I was very fortunate to get the job. There was two of us that were picked, and I was just quite happy to do it. And I still feel happy about it.
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