James Gordon Salt (1938 - Present)
James Gordon Salt
The youngest son of Henry Stuart and Madeline Maude Salt, JAMES GORDON was born on the 3rd of July, 1938 in Toronto, Ontario. With the onset of World War II fast approaching, the Salt family spent time in Toronto and Halifax. For most of the war years, JAMES GORDON lived with his maternal Grandparents and an Aunt and Uncle (Mabel & Clifford Arnold) in Montreal while his parents played their role in the war effort in the city of Halifax.
Robert and James Salt
In 1971, JAMES GORDON fulfilled a lifelong dream and became the 4th generation of Salt men to attain the Chief Engineers certificate. He would soon follow in his Father’s footsteps and join Transport Canada Marine Safety as it is known today. The next 30 years would see him fill positions from Marine Surveyor to Senior Examiner, Principal Regional Surveyor, acting Regional Manager and Manager.
His family would follow him as far east as Clarenville, Newfoundland to the Southern Ontario Region and to the Nation’s Capital, eventually settling in Kingston, Ontario where he would retire in 1999. His time in Marine Safety was not without event and involved a multitude of investigations, casualties and prosecutions of ships, and it is with much pride that he boasts none of which involved him personally.
After honourably discharging from the RCN(R) in 1945, his Father moved the family to Midland, Ontario on Georgian Bay and began his employment with the then Steamship Inspection Branch of the Department of Transport. Midland would afford JAMES GORDON his first taste of sea-going life where, at the age of 12, he spent a month on the Steam Ship Mildred, a small passenger tour boat on the Muskoka Lakes, running the canteen with occasional periods at the helm of the vessel in open water. Unbeknownst to JAMES GORDON or his Father at the time, this short period at sea would plant the seed for what would eventually become a distinguished and rewarding career as a mariner and an engineer.
In 1951, Henry Stuart was transferred to Kingston, Ontario as the manager of the Steamship Inspection office. The city made an obvious impression on the young JAMES GORDON, for thirty-seven years later he would return to Kingston as manager of the same office. Over the next few years, his family would move to Montreal, Quebec and then Halifax, Nova Scotia and it was during his time in Halifax when his destiny to follow in the foot steps of his forefathers was interrupted, albeit for only a short respite, when he joined the Army Cadet movement in the Princess Louise Fusiliers, qualifying as a Wireless Operator Group 1. Combat boots and radios were not to be his future though and, in 1953, the Salt family moved once again, this time to St. John’s, Newfoundland where his Father would establish the first Steamship Inspection office in the recently formed province. It was during these years in Newfoundland where JAMES GORDON’s true destiny would begin to develop and flourish.
At the young age of 15, he was once again afforded the opportunity to taste the sea air, this time as a deckhand on a small cargo schooner, the MV Winifred Lee. Unable to ignore this calling any longer, JAMES GORDON joined the Sea Cadets movement and, while a member of RCSCC Terra Nova, quickly attained the rank of Leading Cadet. After only a short 18 months has passed, he successfully completed his Petty Officer’s exams, which permitted him entry as an Able Seaman into the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve). On the 10th of February in the year 1955, JAMES GORDON became the third member of the Salt family to join the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve), following his Father and older Brother, Robert Stuart.
As a young Able Seaman in the RCN(R), his training would take place ashore at HMCS Cabot in St. John’s and HMCS Star in Hamilton, Ontario and, of course, at sea on a number of minor war vessels, from minesweepers to gate vessels. In 1955, JAMES GORDON transferred to the University Naval Training Division of the RCN(R) as a Cadet and commenced his studies at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. He would eventually transfer from the Executive to the Engineering Branch, training with the UNTD at HMCS Stadacona in Halifax and afloat in HMCS Fort Erie in the 7th Escort Squadron. His time in the Fort Erie would see him returning to his roots, during a training cruise with the squadron, to Scotland and London, England.
HMCS Cabot Reserve Unit
HMCS Star Reserve Unit
HMCS Gaspé Minesweeper
HMCS Beaver Fairmile
HMCS Porte St. Louis Gate Vessel
HMCS Stadacona Naval Base
HMCS Fort Erie Frigate
Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve)
Fairmile Class – Similar to the HMCS Beaver
Apparently not the forte of JAMES GORDON, his time in University was short lived and, in 1958, he found himself in Newcastle upon Tyne, England where he entered a training program in the Wallsend Slipway as an apprentice fitter working on the manufacture of large diesel engines. While there he studied at Rutherford College, the same institution attended by his Father, Henry Stuart, some 35 years earlier. JAMES GORDON continued his training in the south of England, working in the manufacturer and servicing of marine pumps and compressors with Hamworthy Engineering and attended the Southampton Technical College on a pre-sea marine course.
At the age of just 22 years, JAMES GORDON was afforded the opportunity to spread his wings and accepted a 2 year assignment as a Service Engineer with John Birch & Co. Ltd. in Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. His employ with the company primary entailed working on construction and marine equipment of a wide variety in Bahrain and other areas such as Muscat (Oman), Sharja, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, then known as the Trucial States. Unlike today, many of those areas had yet to produce oil and, as such, were poorly developed. It was also a time of much unrest in the area.
Capitalizing on the good fortune shown his Grandfather during his time at sea, JAMES GORDON tested fate on more than one occasion. Just prior to his arrival to the area, a rebel bomb had sunk a local passenger ship, the DARA, with considerable loss of life. His own time there would not pass without incident. The story has been passed that in one particular incident, JAMES GORDON and some associates were due to depart the area but excess weight prevented their aircraft from lifting off. Baggage was offloaded, including a mailbag, and the aircraft departed. Shortly thereafter, the offloaded mailbag detonated. In another incident, he would learn of a jeep running over an anti-tank mine, with loss of life, buried on a road traveled by him not 45 minutes earlier. As a foreshadow of events to come to the region, it was on return to Bahrain from Muscat on that trip that he found himself facing the armed camp of a full Royal Air Force bomber squadron and the British 1st Para Regiment which had been rapidly deployed due to the threat of a Kuwait invasion by Iraq. As a comparison to the events to follow some 30 years later, the U.S. Navy’s presence in the Bahrain region at that time then consisted of a single Midshipman.
With enough experience to last him a lifetime, and the call of the sea ever so present, JAMES GORDON returned to Canada in 1963 and commenced his sea-going career, first in the waters of the Arctic and then on the eastern seaboard and in the Great Lakes. He would spend the next 8 years upgrading his engineering certifications while in various positions ranging from Junior Engineer to Chief Engineer. Although most have been scrapped, some of the vessels he would call home during this time, still operate to this day. JAMES GORDON would even spend a short period sailing under the tutelage of his older brother in the buoy tender, the CCGS Montmorency.
CCGS Labrador (Icebreaker)
CS Lord Kelvin (Cable ship)
MV. W. Harold Rea (Shell tanker)
MV White Rose (Shell Tanker)
MV Blue Trader (Refrigerated cargo)
CCGS Montmorency (Buoy tender)
MV William Carson (CN passenger)
MV Petite Forte (CN passenger)
MV Atlantic John Park (New construction – Deep sea seiner)
MV Bluenose (CN passenger)
With the firm realization that “All work and no play makes JAMES GORDON a very dull boy”, his limited time ashore was not wasted. In fact, it was during one of these “days off” from the MV William Carson that a fetching young Air Canada flight attendant, in the city of St.John’s for only a short time, captured his heart. Joyce Denise Winstall and JAMES GORDON SALT were married in Montreal on 20 May 1967 and their union together would see the arrival of three children; two sons, James Stuart and Mark Raynold, and a daughter, Christine Gayle.
All three children would eventually test the waters as members of a number of various Sea Cadet Corps in their youth. Their daughter would even start a military career with the Naval Reserve unit in Kingston, Ontario. It would be the eldest son however that would continue the Salt family connection to the sea.
Even in retirement the desire to remain involved with the marine industry remained strong and JAMES GORDON used his time, and skills wisely. The office of Seacure Marine was formed and JAMES GORDON accepted consulting and teaching contracts from Federal and International organizations. By and far, teaching proved the most rewarding for him and included opportunities within Canada and as far as Italy and Taiwan. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) sponsored courses brought together students from in excess of 75 developing countries to study under his guidance.
In late 2005, after nearly 55 years involvement in the marine community in one way or another, JAMES GORDON retired fully so as to enjoy more time with his wife of over 45 years, their children and grand children, and their home in Kingston, Ontario. Unable to ever really remain “at anchor”, JAMES GORDON and Joyce Denise travel whenever the desire knocks on their door.
Second only to his qualification as a Chief Engineer, he lists the presentation of the
by the Governor General of Canada as his most memorable career moment.