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The Nectar of the Seas

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The Nectar of the Seas

Seamen on ships would get a ration of rum every day. Roch Daoust talks about this tradition and how hard it was for him to get rid of the habit after he got out of the Navy.


Roch Daoust

Roch D’Aoust was born on April 23, 1924, in Alfred, Ontario. When the war broke out, he worked for the war industry in Québec: ammunition manufacturing in Brownsburg, nitro-cotton manufacturing in Valleyfield and shipbuilding in Montréal. Then in 1944, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy. He did his basic training on HMCS Donnacona and was later transferred to Cornwallis, N.S. to complete his training. He then shipped out on board HMCS Fundy, a minesweeper. The Fundy headed a group of three small ships that made sure passage was free and safe for the large convoys of ships sailing between Canada and Europe. In addition to destroying mines, the Fundy saved a number of casualties from passenger ships sunk by enemy submarines. Finally, he joined the crew of the HMCS Sioux, a destroyer intended to fight Japan but the war ended while the Sioux was on mission in the Pacific.


Let me tell you, the rum . . . All the time I was on the ship, every day at 11:30 we’d get a tot of rum. I’d like to have one right now. You wouldn’t happen to have any rum with you? The real stuff, neat. When you first get on a boat, there are always sailors around at 11:30 in the morning when the officer comes around to give us our tot of rum. They know very well that the new guy’s hair is going to stand on end. OK, I’ll help you . . . Never mind help, because they put it in a little bottle.

So when you’re discharged, you take the train to come back to Montréal, and at 11:30, my friend, you look around for your tot, tot’o’rum, he. But if you don’t have it, you take something else. I had a hard time of it. When I got out of the Navy, I was a few years as a polisher, and for a few years I had difficulty controlling it. But I managed it.

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