Pulled into Belleville Harbour, where the Moira River enters Quinte Bay, about two weeks ago. I only paddled about five miles, after camping near Pointe Anne the night before. I was tired, and the wind was picking up, and I needed a short day. Paddled along the public marina in Victoria Park, which is on a peninsula in the harbor, and saw a couple of men wheeling a power washer out of a shed next to a two story building on the mainland. There were a bunch of small sailboats in the yard which said “Sea Cadets.” I turned a the end of the marina docks, and as I passed the building again, the men were on the dock. I stopped, said hello, told them what I was up to, and asked if I might pitch a tent for the night in their yard. “I don’t know,” the younger of them said, adding something like such decisions were above his pay grade. “We don’t usually do that,” the older man said, “but, that will be ok.” I have found there are two kinds of people in the world, those who say, “We don’t usually do that, so, no,” and those who aren’t afraid to do the unusual.
Turns out the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets are an organization that offers 12-18 year olds, according to the poster in the mess hall, “five phases of training, that involve aspects of sailing, seamanship, marksmanship, drill and music.” The free program Royal Canadian Sea Cadets (RCSC) is a sponsored by the Canadian Forces and the civilian Navy League of Canada. Administered by the Canadian Forces, it’s funded through the Department of National Defence (they spell things funny here), with the civilian partner providing support in the local community. Cadets are civilians, they are not members of the Canadian Forces. Turns out, though, that it is an excellent recruiting tool for the navy, as are similar programs sponsored by the army and Air Force. Half or more of the participants are young women. Anyhow, it’s kind of an usual spot for a peacenik to land, but I’ve enjoyed my time talking with Sheldon, a college student who will be enlisting in the Navy soon, and especially Bill, who retired from the Navy Reserve after 40 years. Bill spends a lot of time now volunteering with the Sea Cadets, riding his bike here from his apartment in town. While I was there, he spent an afternoon, with mixed success, trying to get a power washer up and running so Sheldon could wash the deck. He described himself as “a dyed in the wool conservative,” but, like many Canadians I’ve met who consider themselves conservatives, they are quite supportive of what people in the states consider progressive, such as national healthcare and social welfare programs.