Dave Paddon, who will travel with us to Newfoundland and Wild Labrador in 2014, has a love of Labrador that goes back generations. His dad, William Anthony Paddon, was the first Labrador-born Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. Dave’s parents, and his grandparents, worked with the legendary International Grenfell Association. We asked Dave, the ‘poet-pilot‘ and recitationist about his family history in Labrador.
Dave, you come from a pretty illustrious background, but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. What do you do?
I’m a pilot. I’ve been flying since 1976 and I started out flying Twin Otters and helicopters in Labrador. It’s quite a treat for me to be included in ACs Labrador trips as I get to see my old stomping grounds. Right now I am an Airbus Captain at Air Canada.
Tell us a bit about your family history in Labrador.
My grandparents were engaged by the Grenfell Mission, a charitable organization that provided health care and educational services to the residents of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dad was born in Labrador and, after naval service in World War II he followed in his parents’ footsteps. My Mother came to Labrador after nursing wounded servicemen in London during the war.
Her hospital suffered a direct hit from a flying bomb one night and Dad’s ship was torpedoed so travelling around by dogteam and hospital vessel for many years was fairly mundane for them—although there were lots of adventures.
How did your background and upbringing influence you?
At one time I thought I would follow in Dad’s footsteps but eventually the Grenfell Mission was absorbed into the provincial health service and that kind of life disappeared.
I guess my upbringing instilled in me a strong love of Labrador which I still feel, even though I don’t live there any more.
How do you convey your own roots in the work you do?
In terms of my recitations: they are all rooted in my life in Newfoundland and Labrador. I grew up listening to wonderful stories and funny anecdotes while spending time in trapper’s cabins.
Seems like everyone was a “character” in those days and they provided me with a wealth of material.
For example, Kirkina Mukko. She was an Inuit lady and her story is fascinating if harrowing.
As a young girl her legs froze when the fire in her house went out when her father went to try and find food. As a result he (the father) amputated both legs with an axe!
Did a good job I guess as grandfather was able to complete the “surgery” and Kirkina subsequently got married and raised a family.
What do you bring of particular interest to AC passengers aboard ship?
As well as my recitations I always look forward to telling people about the people and culture of Labrador and Newfoundland.
When on the coast of Labrador I particularly like to tell people that dad and grandfather covered the same area by dogteam and then to fill in some of the history of my ancestors I find that passengers are genuinely interested.
Finally, it’s Christmas time. Any fond memories?
I have wonderful Christmas memories of the Inuit who lived in Northwest River. They would go around the town stopping at houses and singing carols in Inuktitut. What a wonderful sound!