Peter Sinclair (page 6)----

Tales from the Territories: Remembering Dick Bullock
by Peter Sinclair

Before he left Wrigley in 1949 Cpl Dick Bullock had established a reputation as a bit of a maverick throughout the Mackenzie stations - and Calder.

Dick had been at Wrigley when it closed, followed by a tour in Ft. Good Hope under S/Sgt Dave Allison.

When Wrigley was to be reopened in 1948 he was one of the few with site knowledge/experience. It was fortunate for us that he had that background to get the station up and running.

For staff he had two operators and a cook. Hal Zinn was an experienced operator and a pretty fair mechanic. I was the green operator on a steep learning curve. The cook was inclined to be moody.

Dick wanted to return to Good Hope and somehow got the idea that if he was "contrary minded" enough Calder would let him return. This had nothing to do with the running of the station. It seemed more like a personal feud with Calder. This could take some strange forms. On official correspondence he stopped using "Wrigley NWT", instead used "Lana of the Purple Mountains" or "Grouse Valley". The only way Calder could identify the station of origin was the WR file number.

Dick Bullock and Pete Sinclair

On another occasion we could not get typewriter ribbons of either the standard or telegraphic mil. WE eventually obtained some standard ribbons with met supplies and I rewound one onto the mill ribbon holder. The old ribbon was full of holes and literally falling apart. Dick had me loop it up into a neat bundle which he attached to a letter to Calder. "This station realizes ribbons are in short supply and will do its part in conservation. Find attached one ribbon to be repaired, re-inked and returned." We received a box of ribbons the next mail.

The one that really made his reputation was his reply to a CQ message requesting suggestions for improvements to the stations. Dick convened a "brain storm" session and encouraged flights of fancy. Some of the items on his reply were: A gymnasium, a greenhouse to grow fresh vegetables, a control tower so we could see both ends of the runway. When Ft. Simpson passed this on the CQ circuit a lot of stations must have copied it. Over the years I have talked to many old operators who knew of this message and had a chuckle over it.

There are some examples of Dick's actions to nudge Calder - there were many more. Unfortunately Calder did not respond as he hoped. In early spring 1949 Dick was notified that he was to be replaced as Station Commander and was to attend a Jr. NCO Course in Vimy. He declined the posting and elected to take his release from the Army. In preparation for the changeover all of his gear, including his 15 ft. freighter canoe and Johnson outboard was moved to the HBC Post under the care of the Factor, Led Kotowich.

In early summer Sgt. Moe Lynn - with wife, son and Dog, Kazan - came in. They occupied the second Igloo as temporary MQ. After the changeover Dick returned a few weeks later on a CPA flight as a civilian. Hal Zinn used the station boat to take him down to the HBC Post and he was on his way back to Good Hope.

I have always thought of Dick Bullock as a good, effective station commander. No one could fault his day to day running of the station. he got all of our myriad tasks accomplished without fuss, and ran a happy station. he had the patience to bring along a green operator to the standards and skills needed on a northern station.

I also picked up a few skills I have never used again: driving a road grader; driving and dozing with Caterpillar tractors; and how to skin a muskrat and stretch the pelt.


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