Raissa Tetanish – Hub Now A group of former coworkers gathered recently at the Best Western Glengarry in Truro for a 50th reunion. The men and women had all worked together at the Royal Bank of Canada branch on the U.S. Air Force Base in Goose Bay, Labrador, in the late 1960s. Front, from left, Roy West, Mary Benedict, Edie Leet, Anne McPherson. Second row, Larry Holtom, Zorka West, Ken Bird, Jackie Holtom, Jean Grant, and Bob McPherson.

Their smiles were infectious, so was their laughter.

It’s been 50 years since a group of 19 people worked together in the isolated community of Goose Bay, Labrador, but you wouldn’t know it.

“We were like one big family,” said Mary Benedict, a native of Witless Bay, NL, who gathered for the reunion at the Best Western Glengarry in Truro.

It was the late 1960s when Benedict and others moved to Goose Bay to work at the Royal Bank of Canada branch on the U.S. Air Force base.

Edie Leet, who lives in Brule, was the head teller and has been instrumental in bringing the group together every few years to reminisce.

“We do a lot of storytelling,” said Ken Bird, who was the branch manager at the time.
“Well, most don’t tell stories,” laughed Leet. “Most of us were single when we were up there, so we keep a few secrets.”

Those gathered for the reunion spent varying amounts of time in Labrador, some only a year, while others, like Benedict, stayed for two years.

“We made our own fun,” Benedict said. “We did a lot together. We really were like one big happy family.”

With three flights in and out of Goose Bay each week in 1966 and 1967, they really did make their own fun.

Leet admits they snowshoed and partied, and visited officers and NCO clubs on the base.

“The women all lived in the barracks – there were about 300 of us,” said Leet, adding the men stayed in a separate barrack.

There were two other Royal Bank branches in the area, but all of those gathered worked together on the base.

For Roy and Zorka West, the two met at the bank and eventually married. It was the same story for Jackie and Larry Holtom – they met through their positions, fell in love and married. Anne and Bob McPherson had met prior to moving to Labrador, but married while they were there.

Their friendships were so close, some stood in as best man in another’s wedding, and vice versa.

While they never have held a reunion in Goose Bay, Leet admits it would “be nice.”

For now, however, they’ll continue to meet every couple of years in Truro, a central location as many come from Ontario, New Brunswick, and, of course, Newfoundland.