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Major (Ret’d) Peter Portlock and Lieutenant (Ret’d) Linda Long

A passion for music and the military brought Major Peter Portluck and Lieutenant Linda Long together. Their dedication to serving their country and their love for piano and each other has kept them together for more than four decades.

Edmonton, Alberta



Long in 1973 and Portlock in 1967


  • CFB Toronto
  • North Bay, Ontario

Linda Long was looking for a banquet pianist when she met Peter Portlock in 1974.

She’d left her home in rural Alberta in 1973 after joining the Air Force. Shortly after completing her basic military and trades administration training, she was posted to Canadian Forces Base Toronto . A year later, while organizing a charity banquet, she was asked to find a pianist, and one of her superiors suggested she connect with Peter Portlock, the new base air force major.

He was the only member – other than Long – who had a piano in his barrack room. She loved to play piano and was excited to meet him.

“I soon learned I wasn’t much of a piano player compared to Peter,” she says.

Portlock had grown up in a military family and had always known the CAF would be his path in life. He joined the air force right out of university in 1967 and served for 13 years. At age 27, he was serving in North Bay, Ontario when he was promoted to major and sent to CFB Toronto.

“I arrived to find, to my great delight, that somewhere in the years I had been serving on the Pine Tree Radar Line that things had changed and the military had embraced recruitment of women,” he remembers.

After the banquet, Portlock began editing Long’s articles for the base newsletter and their friendship grew.

When she decided to apply to become a flight attendant on DND transport aircraft, she asked him to write her a reference letter.

“I did in fact write the letter and it was a red hot recommendation,” Portlock says with a laugh.

Long remembers every word.

“If I was going to fall in love with somebody, I already knew about the piano, but I had never read anything like this before -- it felt like a love letter.

In the spring of 1976, she received another letter from Portlock, this one inviting her to dinner “if she should ever find herself in Toronto.”

That very night, she was on the last bus from Trenton.

Six months later, he proposed.

“The thing that attracted us both was our mutual love of the military. We loved what we were doing, we were proud of being in the military, and we were loyal to the military,” Peter Portlock.

Linda Long and Peter Portlock surprised their CFB Toronto members when they attended the CFB Officer’s Mess as his guest – and his wife.

But Long had bigger aspirations than simply being Mrs. Major Portlock.

In the Fall of 1979 she completed the CAF junior leadership course and finished top of class. Alas, her success would ultimately contribute to her decision to leave the military.

A dinner was hosted at the mess to conclude the course where it was announced that she had been the top performer. This news did not sit well with the rest of the cohort, the vast majority of them men. No one cheered her nor congratulated her.  Long had long noticed the signs of sexism and misogyny through her military path, this experience inspired her to become an advocate for greater gender equality in the Canadian Armed Forces and eventually wrote a book, entitled –Breasts Ma’am!  A Young Woman’s Journey to and through the Canadian Military - about the experience.

Portlock and Long left the military to further their education: he completed a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration, and she, a law degree at the University of Alberta.  They both served in the 418 Reserve Squadron while completing their studies.

Portlock became Western Canada’s first patient ombudsman and Long started her own family law practice in Edmonton, Alberta. With both of their careers progressing, they left the air reserve in 1984 and adopted three brothers.

Long dedicated her practice to advocate for gender equality. Her efforts culminated in her appointment on the Advisory Board on Women in the Canadian Forces in 1990. Her career came full circle.

“It’s a love story for us, for the Forces and for making things better.”

Looking back on her career, Long says Portlock’s love and encouragement was the springboard for her to fly.

Now grandparents to eight grandchildren, they have since sold their two old pianos and invested in a baby grand piano for their duets. For more than four decades, their love of the military, music – and each other – has kept them together.

“It’s a love story for us, for the Forces and for making things better,” Linda Long says.

With courage, integrity and loyalty, Peter Portlock and Linda Long have left their mark. Peter Portlock and Linda Long are two of our Canadian Veterans. Discover more stories.

If you a Veteran, family member or caregiver in need of mental health support, the VAC Assistance Service is available to you 24/7, 365 days a year at no cost. Call "1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional right now.

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