the memories of John Weir and Lyle Bates - June 2010
We remember Mick
There are almost none of us left who can give a good resume on Mick McWilliams.
He was indeed a character. We knew him fairly well but Mick sailed as RO for
many different lines as well as working for DOT. He was born in Halifax, N.S.
around 1927 and graduated from the Halifax School for Wireless Operators around
He joined DOT and was immediately posted (who else wanted to go?) to Resolution
Island/VAW for one year in the 1947/48 era, serving there at the same time as
Dick Geddes and Johnny Weir. Johnny remembers that the winter clothing provided
by DOT , although warm was not meant to keep up with the dog teams of the
Eskimoes due to its weight and Mick liked to travel in his off- hours,
accompanying the Eskimoes on their hunting trips. A kind Eskimo lady made a
complete , warm, light outfit for Mick and he was off and running. I remember
seeing this outfit at Mick's house over 30 years later.
Wanting a change of life and being a good technician he took time off and sold
and serviced vacuum cleaners for the periods 1949/51 but Radio was his calling.
In 1951 he signed a two year contract with the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line
run by the Canadian and US military and served as operator/technician during
He then re-joined DOT and worked at VBQ/Halifax Marine Radio telephone which
handled ship-to-shore from the vast fleet of Canadian fishing vessels on the
East Coast of Canada as well as maintaining a point-to-point CW link for all
traffic to and from Sable Island/VGF.
In the early 1960's Mick went back to sea on ocean -going vessels, ending up on
the passenger vessel St. Ninian which ran twice weekly trips between St. Pierre
et Miquelon and North Sydney/Halifax. He also spent several years on oil rigs
off Sable Island and in the North Sea. Mick retired in the late eighties due to
ill health, becoming a silent key in the early nineties.