Roy and Sylvia Sanders

1943 - 1945.  USA, UK, Egypt, India
Growing up poor on a small farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Roy probably did not imagine that he would eventually travel to many countries around the world.  However, Roy's enrolment in the military during WWII not only introduced him to his first foreign travels, he also met his bride to be, and set the course for a career that would involve some of the world's most advanced scientific technologies.  After some training in Texas, he was sent to England and then finally to India (via Egypt).  He was to spend two years working as a RADAR technician
for Britain's Royal Air Force Squadron 354 of South East Asia Command.  His time in British India included travels that if done now would take him through three countries: Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). In August 1945, he was also very briefly based on the Cocos Islands, off Java. (Click here for many more details about Roy's wartime travels, particularly his two years in India.)

1949 summer.  UK
Roy, Sylvia and Heather went to Britain to visit Sylvia's parents, so they could meet their new granddaughter Heather. They took the train from Toronto to Halifax and then boarded the RMS Acquitania, a passenger ship.  As the story goes, when Heather started her return cross-Atlantic journey she had just begun to master the skill of walking.  However, due to the excessive swaying and rocking of the ship, by the time they arrived back in Canada, she had lost the ability to walk and had returned to crawling.

1953.  UK
Roy, Sylvia and Heather took another passenger ship to England.  This time the purpose of the trip was for Roy to begin his Ph.D. studies in Physics (Optics) at the University of London's Imperial College of Science.  (Click here for more for Roy's physics career.)

1955.  UK to Switzerland
Roy and Sylvia travelled to Zurich, Switzerland, for a conference of the International Commission on Illumination (CIE).  Various extracurricular activities included museum visits and city tours.  Roy and Sylvia travels there involved a car camping trip around Germany.  They camped from an old Citroen car with friends. Although Heather stayed behind with Sylvia's sister Beryl, and her children (David, Sylvia and Angela) in Coventry, she recalls the story that while camping outside Heidelberg, Sylvia claimed to have heard a lion roaring in the night.  Everyone of course thought this was laughable and did not believe her.  It turned out however that they had been sleeping next to the city zoo.

1955 June.  UK to Canada
Roy, Sylvia and Heather returned to Canada by passenger ship after completion of his Ph.D.

1956?  Czechoslovakia
Roy and Sylvia went to Prague, Czechoslovakia, for another CIE conference. 

1962 Easter holidays.  Ottawa to Florida, via DC
Wendy had whooping cough and Roy and Sylvia were advised to go somewhere warm to help her breathing. They loaded up the car and drove to
Florida with Heather, Richard, Wendy.  On the way we stopped in Washington for cherry blossom time. While Roy was driving around the city trying to find our way to the Abe-Lincoln Monument, Richard (then four) was growing impatient and asked:  "When are we going to get to the blinkin' monument?"  (In our house, the word "blinkin'" was a euphemised swear word to avoid saying the more offensive word, "bloody." So when they kept saying "AbeLincoln monument," I thought they were saying "a blinkin' monument.")

1963 June.  Austria
Roy attended sessions of a CIE conference in Vienna, and presented a paper there with a NRC colleague.  Sylvia and Roy also took part in various touristy activities. For example, the CIE's general program shows that on June 25, there was an activity described as "horse-drawn carriage rides through the Prafer and afternoon tea a la Viennoise in the so-called Lusthaus."  A photo of that afternoon
shows Roy and Sylvia as well as US work colleague, Chuck Jerome, with his wife Connie.

1965?  Ottawa to Massachusetts and New Hampshire
Roy, Sylvia, Heather, Richard and Wendy embarked on camping trip to the northern US.  This journey involved hiking through gorges, past waterfalls near Franconia Notch in the White Mountains (NH).  Somewhere by a lake in those mountains we witnessed a highly-energetic lumberjack contest. The Boston leg of the journey included a visit to Paul Revere's house.

1966?  Ottawa to Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
More car camping with the whole family. On this trip we visited Quebec City, the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, the
Flower Pot Rocks in the Bay of Fundy (NS), and Magnetic Hill near Moncton (NB).

1967 June.  Washington, DC; New York, NY, USA
Roy, NRC colleagues (Wolfgang Budde and Gunter Wyszecki) and US scientist Chuck Jerome attended another CIE meeting. This trip was combined with sightseeing for Sylvia, Richard and Wendy.  Memorable moments for Wendy and Richard include standing on the street looking through a window and seeing NYC pizza makers tossing their swirling dough high up into the air. 

1967 Summer.   Ottawa to Montreal for Expo 67
This was also a car camping trip.  Roy, Sylvia, Richard and Wendy slept in our green canvas tent at a campground near Montreal. One memorable moment for Richard was speaking on a telephone with a kid in Florida.  We exchanged some pleasantries and, remarkably for the time, could see each other on small TV monitors.  It was a very-preSkype moment.

1968?  Moscow and Leningrad, USSR
While Roy's Aunt Grace came to Ottawa from Prince Edward County to look after Richard and Wendy in Ottawa, Roy and Sylvia travelled to the Soviet Union for CIE meetings.  There they met with Roy's friend and colleague Mme. Vera Kartechevskaia, a well-known Soviet physicist with the CIE.  During their visit  she took Roy and Sylvia to see many sights in Leningrad (now called St. Petersburg).  (See letter from her to Roy when he retired in 1979 which mentions their visit in the 1960 and Roy's hopes that they will visit her again, which they did with Richard in 1985. See below.)

1969 or 1970.  Across Canada to BC
Roy, Sylvia, Richard and Wendy went on a 6-week cross-country car camping trip and slept in an old green canvas tent. Memorable moments for Richard include some hiking trails on the "Sleeping Giant" (Lake Superiour), visiting the Cypress Hills with Roy's brother Don and family near Eastend Saskatchewan, the hoodoos in Alberta's southern "Bad Lands" and Wood Buffalo Park in north, seeing Banff's Lake Louise, hiking to an alpine meadow for a view of Jaspar's Angel Glacier, and totem poles in Vancouver. Highlights for Wendy include camping on the beach at Pancake Bay Provincial Park, visiting an abandoned silver mine at Silver Islet (Lake Superior), seeing the Calgary stampede, visiting the real "ranch" of family friends in southern Saskatchewan (complete with bunkhouses), and picking up various hitch-hikers along the way.

1971 Summer.  UK, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain
After visiting Sylvia's family in Britain and travelling around the Midlands, Roy, Sylvia, Wendy and Richard flew to Budapest, Hungary, where Roy had meetings to attend for work.  While Roy went off to
meetings of the International Commission on Weights and Measures in Paris, Sylvia, Richard and Wendy, flew to Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia (now in Croatia).  Richard recalls that upon their arrival, Sylvia was approached by an elderly woman who rented rooms in her home.  Getting there involved walking a maze of narrow lanes and, finally, ascending endless stone steps beyond Dubrovnik's ancient western gate.  Wendy recalls that her courtyard patio was shaded by overhead grapevines. Besides exploring this medieval walled town for a few days, we had several excursions: a boat to Lokrum Island for swimming, and a bus excursion along hairpin mountain roads past the Bay of Kotor (now in Montenegro). We also visited the Muslim city of Mostar (now in Bosnia and Herzegovina) where we explored its bazaar and crossed its 16th-century arched stone bridge. A relative of our Dubrovnik host, drove us 700 kms up the Dalmatian coast towards Italy.  Wendy recalls boarding a hovercraft and feeling panic and terror when it left the dock because she thought Richard and Sylvia had gotten off.  Richard's recollections include the Diocletian's Palace in Split, a sculpture garden with the works of a famous Croatian artist (Ivan Meštrović), and many small framed photos of President Tito displayed in many stores. The car trip ended in Pula where we visited the city's intact Roman coliseum.  We proceeded by rail to Venice where we stayed to see the usual sights and continued by train to Barcelona, Spain.  There we met up with Roy who was attending CIE meetings.  Wendy recalls a large palace-like building with an outdoor courtyard where we may have had a CIE dinner.  Richard remembers the port museum, a large gallery of Picasso's work and Gaudí's bizarre, unfinished cathedral.

1974.  Mexico
Sylvia and Richard flew to Mexico City.  They climbed the pyramids to the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacan. Then they went by bus to Chiapas where they visited the Mayan site of Palenque.  After another hot bus ride they got to the Yucatan where they visited several Mayan sites including Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum.  They also went to the Isla Mujeres off the coast in the Caribbean and bicycled the length of the island.  The highlight for Richard entering Chichen Itza at sunrise with a Mexican archaeoastronomer (who they met at their guest house).  It happened to be the Spring equinox, the one of two days every year when the shadow of the pyramid's falls for an hour down the side of the staircase and lines up with a giant snake's head at the bottom.

1975 March.  Guatemala and Honduras
Roy, Sylvia and Richard went on 1500-km road trip to Mayan sites.  After renting a jeep in Guatemala City, where gunfire was heard at night, Roy drove to the city of Quetzaltenango and then to volcanic Lake Atitlan.   The longest leg of the journey was a drive through the remote jungle to the northern Petén Province to visit the pyramids of Tikal.  They took a 100 km boat trip down the Rio Dulce, seeing crocodiles, to Livingston on the Gulf of Mexico.  On the way back Roy drove along narrow, windy mountain roads to the ancient ruined Mayan city of Copan in Honduras. 

1975 July/August.  London to Istanbul and beyond
This trip started with visits to some ancient neolithic sites including Stonehenge, the Avebury Circle, Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow. After that Sylvia, Heather and Richard embarked on the Orient Express bound for Istanbul, Turkey (via France, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece). Richard recalls arriving at the Paris train station in the wee hours of his 18th birthday.  In Switzerland,
he pulled the emergency stopcord when Sylvia and Heather got off the train but he hadn't seen them get back on.  (There was a fine for that.)  In Bulgaria, we saw endless sunflower fields.  We eventually disembarked from the Orient Express in Thessalonica and took another train to Athens.  After visiting Athens' museums and climbing up to the Parthenon, we went to the Peloponnesus peninsula.  There we visited Corinth, Delphi, Olympia and Mycenae, where we entered Agamemnon's honey-comb tomb and walked through the Lion's Gate up to the acropolis.  Once back in Athens, we boarded a train to Istanbul.  Heather recalls this as "a bit tricky as the two countries had recently been at war [over Cyprus]. The Greek engine left our carriage at the border for a few hours in the middle of night and then the Turkish steam train arrived to take us to Istanbul where we arrived in the early morning." Richard remembers the long wait at the Turkish border town too. Its name has stuck with him for 40+ years, Uzunkopru.  Unforgettable moments in Istanbul for Richard were being awoken by the muezzin's call to prayer each morning at 5, visiting Hagia Sophia and exploring the Grand Bazaar.  We then flew to Izmir on the Aegean and visited Pergamon and Ephesus with their amazing amphitheatres. We returned to England by train, where we were joined by Wendy and Roy for Heather and Graham’s wedding.  

1977 August.  BC 
Roy and Sylvia went with Wendy to visited friends and family in BC.  They visited with Sylvia's sister Audrey and her husband Donald.  Time was also spent in Powell River where they met former Ottawa friends Ches and Nelly Russell, their daughter Sandra, her husband Dennis (an RCMP officer) and their kids. (Ches had spent most of his life in the Arctic having run a Hudson's Bay trading post on Hudson Bay.  Wendy recalls that during their visit with him he "
took us out salmon fishing several times on his boat. We caught many fish, signalled by the ringing of a bell on the end of the rod." The fish were "then reeled in by someone strapped in a raised seat at the back of the boat."

1978 summer.  Ottawa to New York and Massachusetts
Roy and Sylvia went on a trip with Wendy to northeastern US in their blue van which they had converted into a "camper."  This trip included some genealogical research on Roy's United Empire Loyalist ancestors who had moved to Prince Edward County from New York state in the late 1700s. 
While there, Roy and Sylvia explored Cape Cod, while Wendy stayed for several days with Marcia Jerome whose dad, Chuck (Charles), was a CIE colleague of Roy's. Wendy recounts that "Chuck was an avid sailor and took Dad out on a race from Marblehead's Corinthian Yacht Club and Dad received a glass with the club's logo on it."

1979 March.  Ottawa to Florida
Roy and Sylvia drove to Florida in their blue "camper" van.  Wendy then flew down to meet them
in Miami. From there they all travelled back to Canada, camping along the way.  The Three Mile Island nuclear power accident  happened in Pennsylvania while they were camping not far away.

1980 or 1981 January and March.  Ottawa thru the US to Mexico
Roy and Sylvia drove their blue van to Mexico for a 6-week camping trip. Along the way they visited the geographic wonders like the Grand Canyon and various archaeological sites in the "Four Corners" states.

1980s.  Portugal and Spain
Roy and Sylvia, travelled with their old friends Gil and Helen Levine to Portugal and Spain.  Other Ottawa friends
also joined them on that trip. 

1985 April 25 - May 18.  "Adventure Peace Tour to the Soviet Union"
Roy, Sylvia and Richard travelled to the USSR with 30 other Canadians. This was the most controversial of their trips.  When a libellous news story targeted Peace Tour participants, Roy and Sylvia were instrumental in efforts -- including a legal suit -- to get a retraction/apology.  (Click here for more details.)

The places we visited are now within four different countries: Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Sochi (in Russia), Baku (in Azerbaijan), Tbilisi (in Georgia), Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand (in Uzbekistan). There were stopovers in Helsinki, Finland, on the way there and back. We saw museums, galleries, archaeological sites, a May Day parade in Moscow, and war memorials at mass graves in Leningrad and Stalingrad where millions of Soviets died during the "Great Patriotic War" (i.e., WWII).  We were treated to a ballet at Moscow's Bolshoi theatre, men's a cappella singing in a 1000-year old church in Georgia, and Central Asian music/dance in Tashkent. We met with representatives of the Canada-US Institute, Soviet Friendship Society, Soviet Women's Committee and Soviet Peace Committee.  The trip was organised/led by Koozma Tarasoff, then-president of the Ottawa branch of the Canada-USSR Association, which had 39 chapters across Canada.  Koozma is a Doukhobor Canadian pacifist and photographer who had known Roy and Sylvia since the 1960s. (See his comments at Roy's memorial service.) In preparation for the trip, Richard collected audio messages from peace and religious organisations for distribution to Soviet groups during the tour. (See more about that here.)

1988  UK
While in England,
Roy and Sylvia made a special effort to visit the Yellow Gate Peace Camp at Greenham Common.  They were excited to meet activists with this Women's Peace Camp which had been formed in response to NATO's decision to base cruise missiles there.  RAF Greenham Common  was home to the US Army Air Force and faced many thousands of protesters who used nonviolent direct actions to resist preparations for nuclear war.  In 1982, 30,000 women had completely surrounded this military base and a year later it was encircled by 50,000 women protesters.

late 1980s.  Ottawa to Newfoundland
Roy and Sylvia drove from Ottawa to "The Rock." Once there they drove to the northernmost tip of Newfoundland to visit a famous archaeological site there, L'Anse aux Meadows.  This was the location of a small, 1000-year old Viking settlement.

1991 or 1992. UK

Roy and Sylvia travelled to the UK where they spent a week in Cornwall with Heather, Ben and Emily, and then drove to Brecon, Luton and Church Lawford visiting Auntie Beryl’s 3 children, David, Angela and Sylvia.

early 1990s.  Cuba
Roy and Sylvia went to
Varadero Cuba on at least two trips and stayed at the Punta Blanca hotel.   They travelled with their long-time friends Helen and Gil Levine on one or more of these holidays.

1993?  BC Coast
Roy and Sylvia flew out to Edmonton and were met there by Genya and Vernon Johnson, who drove them to their home in Prince George, BC.  The two couples had originally met on a trip to Cuba and became close friends.  Together the four of them took a ferry along the scenic BC coast (the "Inside Passage") to Vancouver. Later, Vern and Genya visited Roy and Sylvia in Ottawa on two occasions. 

1993.  Italy
Roy and Sylvia met up with Heather, her husband Graham and their children Emily and Ben, for a holiday
in Italy.  Heather recalls that they met up in Tuscany and "stayed for a week in an old villa south of Florence, which had vineyards and wonderful views. We went to Florence, Sienna and San Gimignano. On our way back from Sienna it snowed which was surprising as it was Easter time. Mum and Dad stayed on for a few days after we left them in Pisa when we flew back. They went to Lucca where she eventually went to the hospital to check her ankle which it turned out had been broken for weeks since she slipped off a curb in Ottawa. When they arrived back in Sevenoaks, England, she was in a cast and on crutches!"

1995 or 1996. UK

Roy and Sylvia met Heather in England for some genealogical research touring: including Stafford, Birmingham, Bearwood, and Bournemouth. To investigate Sylvia's forebears they searched documents and locations which had Whittlesey/Ward family connections.

mid-late 1990s-early 2000s.  Cuba
In their 70s, Roy and Sylvia went on their first "all-inclusive" resort trip to Cuba.  That trip, in about 1996, was the first of about five annual trips to Cuba. When Wendy picked them up at the airport from their first holiday at Sierra Mar, near Santiago de Cuba, she remembers them saying "You HAVE to go!!!" Wendy and her family have rarely missed a year since then.  Roy particularly enjoyed sailing catamarans and playing tennis on these trips. While there they met several Canadian couples, including Vern and Genya Johnson from Prince George, BC, and George and Rachel Tamari from Toronto.  They kept in touch with these couples for years and visited each other in their home cities.

Have something to add?
If you have any further information or photos that you could share for this page of the Roy Sanders memorial website, please let me know.  Many thanks!

Richard Sanders  <>