I joined the Sea Cadets just as it was being organized. My wish was to join the Navy but I was under age and had promised my parents that I would not join up until I was 17 1/2. We met at the pavilion in Kitchener's Victoria Park once a week. Someone had renovated the inside to look like the deck of a ship. I'm hoping that there are still pictures which show this, because it was very realistic.
One of my wishes was to learn the semaphore flags, which I did very soon. I later taught new recruits. Unfortunately the Morse code and I didn't get along too well together.
My friends and I loved marching down King Street. It was hard to keep our eyes forward, as we were all glancing at the young ladies standing at the curb. It was also a highlight when we travelled out of town (and saw different girls).
Whether we liked it or not, we certainly learned to respect discipline. I can't recall the penalties, but we very soon found out that there were times to have fun and times to toe the line.
Our officers were mainly local businessmen who gave their time and talents to see that we were well trained.
The Commander was Earl Putnam, a well respected business man, who headed the Dominion Insurance Company. He spent many hours both organizing and leading the group. I later worked for a company in Montreal at which one of my favourite officers was a vice-president.
Some of us who lived in Waterloo would take the street car to Kitchener and walk down to the park from King Street. We often sang risque Navy songs that we had learned, which was about as close as we got to getting into trouble. I can't even remember why, but for some reason we all liked the Army Cadets but didn't like the Air Cadets. Strangely enough, this continued when I later joined the Navy. While taking basic training at the Toronto Exhibition grounds, I discovered that the Air Force recruits slept in cots with white sheets, while we had to climb into hammocks with a woolen blanket. 🙂