Saturday, September 23, 2023

Long Ago And Far Away

I had an email recently from old long time friend Simon MacDowell (author and wargamer, amongst other things: see Legio Wargames website) which included a photo he'd taken during a recent visit to the Fort St. Jean museum at R.M.C St. Jean ( C.M.R or College Militaire Royal de St. Jean as it was known when we were there). 

Soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres building the first fort at St. Jean in 1666.
(diorama built in 1973)

Now there is nothing really extraordinary about the diorama except that I made it in 1973! The figures are converted Airfix (ahhh good old low heat soldering iron, paper, plastecene and glue!) I find it hard to believe that it survived and is still on display.

That was when I was a '1st Year' cadet (meaning it was my 2nd year having been a 'Prep' the year before) and a member of the museum club which was working to establish a museum. Well, made it with some help from then new recruit Simon which led to wargames and 5 decades of friendship (so far, not done yet). 

The museum was eventually opened and accredited, and I was the 3rd Cadet Curator. In the latter part of the 20thC, sometime around when the Berlin Wall came down and history and wars "ended", the Canadian Forces shut down two of the three military colleges and the St. Jean campus was used for some senior officer courses and I think various civilian courses and possibly for sports team training, Anyway, once it was discovered that there were going to be more wars after all, the St. Jean campus was reinstated as a military college  that was not only bilingual, but also bisexual, well, no, that's the wrong term, coed is better, but call it what you will, looking back at 5 years in my teens and early 20's when the only females were a handful of antique waitresses in the mess and a couple of secretaries and a librarian.....sighhh....  

But I digress,  the museum had been preserved and when the college was reopened the museum was as well, in a larger setting with a much bigger budget judging by the pictures! I'm hoping to get there in person some day and see what they've done with the place where I grew from kid to adult, and see what they've made of the little museum that a small group of cadets put together half a century ago.

23 comments:

  1. Toss -
    1973! That was before I even knew War Gaming with miniatures was a thing!
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  2. A splendid legacy; I can only imagine the kick it must have been to see that it is still on display!

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    1. Surprise that the Airfix conversions survived was my first reaction!

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  3. Yep, that is really cool that you got to make that for the museum and that it is still there, intact and being displayed again!

    There was a time when I was much younger than I am now, when one of my dream jobs would have been to be a museum display creator. (probably around the time you were making that - ha ha)

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    1. I would never have imagined the life I have lived thus far

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  4. I am delighted for you that the diorama is still on display.
    Alan Tradgardland

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  5. A lovingly made piece of history…what a find!! You must be chuffed 🙂👍🏼👍🏼.

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  6. How great to be reunited with this atmospheric diorama - I hope the college (museum) acknowledges and celebrates your return as an alumni and model maker.
    I was lucky in a way not to attend a coed school or college from 14 to 18 as I managed to concentrate on my work, and get some exams, instead of being happily dreamily distracted.

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    1. Hmm, can't say I was absorbed in studies, or athletics but I did get a good foundation in wargaming and figure conversion and painting

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  7. Excellent post and a very interesting one, great that your display is still on show, you must be really happy with that.

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  8. Nice permanent 'memory' - I really regret that I don't really have any photos or that there is anything like this in my past. I didn't make dioramas, didn't take photos of battles - regrets all round. It's good that you have a photo of something that you made and that is still on show somewhere.

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    1. I also have a few photos of early games and figures, not many but they bring back memories.

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  9. Lovely touch. I was alarmed when my feed gave the post title …… I thought we had gone Star Wars :-)

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  10. That is most impressive! I hope you are able to make a trip out to visit your past work in person.

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  11. Ross, that really is impressive work. Fifty years ago!

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