1943 - 1945.
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
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.)
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
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.)
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
camping trip around Germany.
They camped from an
old Citroen car with friends.
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.
Roy, Sylvia and Heather returned to Canada by passenger ship after
completion of his Ph.D.
Roy and Sylvia went to
Prague, Czechoslovakia, for another CIE
1962 Easter holidays.
Ottawa to Florida,
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
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.")
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
as well as US work colleague, Chuck Jerome, with his wife
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.
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
New York, NY, USA
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.
Ottawa to Montreal for
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
patio was shaded by
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
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
Richard remembers the port
museum, a large gallery of
Picasso's work and Gaudí's bizarre, unfinished cathedral.
Richard flew to
They climbed the pyramids to the Sun and Moon at
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
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.
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,
the city of Quetzaltenango and then to
The longest leg of the journey was a
the remote jungle to the northern
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
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,
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.
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."
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
Cod, while Wendy stayed for several days with Marcia Jerome whose dad,
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."
Ottawa to Florida
Roy and Sylvia drove to Florida in their blue "camper" van. Wendy then
flew down to meet them
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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
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.
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
L'Anse aux Meadows.
This was the location of a small, 1000-year old
1991 or 1992.
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
Roy and Sylvia went to
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.
Roy and Sylvia
flew out to Edmonton and were met there
by Genya and
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
Roy and Sylvia met up with Heather, her husband Graham and their children
Emily and Ben, for a holiday
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Richard Sanders <firstname.lastname@example.org>