Life After Venture
Gordon Longmuir has solicited for content in The Signal, so I suggested articles about member’s lives after they left the RCN, and he suggested I write something, and here it is.
I was in Class ‘63II, which graduated at Xmas of 1963, and I was just two months in to my nineteenth year. Back then, one could not be legally served in a provincial beer parlour until the age of 21. But here we were, fit as fiddles, trained in many adult activities, marching off in ASLT stripes to Hearts of Oak. Then, in January of 1964, it was off on a 3 month cruise to South America, which ended with the beginning of my, and many others, “Life After Venture”.
What to do? The BC Forest Service needed Survey Assistants, so off I went to the Parsnip River rain forest, where they were frantically surveying and logging before the Peace River Dam was completed and flooded to form Williston Lake. Here I was exposed to the world of heavy equipment; log skidders, bulldozers, wheel loaders. This experience stuck with me for a few years, as I worked in surveying for a few seasons as summer employment, while going to Uvic.
There, I immediately joined the rugby club, where the physical training and discipline favoured my Venture training, and filled a void in my life. Just like Venture, off the field, we wore crested blazers and club ties, but not with the WWII vintage grey “bags”. We used to slip back in to the dorms after Liberty Boat and change in to slim modern trousers (anyone else used to do this?). Rugby became a huge part of my life; we were good then and went 3-0 on the SA cruise; I put the boots on in May, 2018, for a game vs a touring Japanese +60 side. We played many overseas sides over the years; again, protocol, manners, dress, and comradeship were all easy for me because of life at Venture.
Now, I was right in to university studies, and after a bit of a slow start, graduated in 1969, with a BA in Economics. The year before, I met Shirley, the love of my life, we were married and quickly started a family. But, what to do after Uvic; this little family needed an income? A very good friend had graduated the previous year, and was selling equipment in Prince George, and advised me that his firm wanted to hire a recent college grad who had equipment exposure. The BCFS and Venture training sold it, I got the job.
Basically, heavy equipment is a high cost capital good, and only has a limited market. The industry ranges from single owner operators to huge corporations that build construction, mining, and forestry projects. I must say that my naval officer training was an excellent base to handle this world. There were associations, conventions, factory visits, social events, committee work, and plenty of travel. When I was flying over B.C. in some form of aircraft (probably every make that took floats), I would think of the “flyboys” that graduated with us and their contribution to national security.
The focus was to sell this machinery, make a profit, earn a commission, expand the base for the supply of spare parts and service, and along the way organize companies, manage employees, and develop friendships that would last a lifetime. Additional personal gain came from bonuses, company cars, expense accounts, paid benefits. It was a wonderful life, up until the time one decides to give it a go on their own. So, me and my old mate, teamed up to buy and sell used equipment plus import low hour pieces from Japan. This life was even better; all the early knowledge of how the world worked plus our professional knowledge, guided us to success.
However, age and energy started to wain, the investment portfolio grew, and retirement beckoned. Then in 2011, Shirley passed away from cancer. I dabbled for a few more years, but finally “hung up the boots” on Dec. 31st, 2016. The score in time served was 18-19 months in Venture and the RCN, 5 years at Uvic and summer jobs including the BCFS, and 47 years and 8 months in the heavy equipment industry.
An old classmate from ‘63II told me about the Venture Society, so I eagerly started to attend the reunions. At these functions, talking with old shipmates, I remembered vividly all the stuff we got up to at HMCS Dockyard; things like Morse Code in the morning, great food, too much wine at Mess Dinners, taking whalers over to “Roads” to try and pinch cannons, the barber with booze on his breath and hot oil on his clippers, lint brushes, morning punishment (we got so fit, it was just a morning jog), rugby games and the Hibbard Trophy, Sunday chapel, renting U-drive’s at our young age, the thick “kye” before bed, on and on it could go.
That’s why I am suggesting the theme of this piece be “Life After Venture”, as Venture was just a tiny, but very influential piece of my life. You old salts who had a Naval career, would have had a second career in another business, which would have been guided by your experience in the RCN and your training at Venture. So, let’s hear from you too! Was there not a fellow writing a book on the history of HMCS Venture; I remember sending him several pages of vignettes, similar to ones mentioned here. Oh, I am also a Navy brat; my father, C2ER4 Sid Fullerton, joined at the outbreak of WW11, was on convoy patrol in the North Atlantic plus other theatres, did his 25 years, and ironically left the RCN the same time as I did.
Respectfully submitted by
Following is a selection of photos from my time at Venture.