Joggins World War II veteran reflects on time with North Novies, posting to Fort Churchill
© Jamie Heap-Cumberlandnewsnow.com
Joggins resident Reginald Harold "Peg" McLellan, who enlisted with the North Novies during World War II before being posted to Fort Churchill, MB during the Korean War, displays a number of items that commemorates his service to his country: an old photograph of himself when he was a North Novie; a Year of the Veteran(2005) certificate signed by Premier John Hamm and Minister Cecil P. Clarke; a Certificate of Service in the Second Great European War and a World War II volunteer service medal hanging from his pocket.
JOGGINS-Reginald Harold “Peg” McLellan, 87, of Joggins is one of kind; he is believed to be the last local area World War II veteran who still resides in Joggins.
“I enlisted three times, trying to get into the army,” stated McLellan, a native of Chignecto who moved to River Hebert with his family when he was just three-years-old. “I enlisted in with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders when I was 17. I was in the army for six months when they got me; I was too young to serve.”
While McLellan may not have served overseas during World War II, he clearly recalls the rigors of his basic training in Yarmouth. “It was on the beach with rocks and two packs on your back, a small one and a big one,” recalled McLellan.“When some of the fellas got out of order, they gave them packs full of coal,” he added.
After the war was over, McLellan returned to River Hebert where he worked in the mines until another conflict, the Korean War, broke out. “I went to Valcartier, Quebec in 1952 before I was stationed at Fort Churchill, Manitoba where the polar bears roam,” recalled McLellan. “I had received my embarkation leave, but my legs caused me to stay. I received a medical discharge from the army in 1954. I wanted to get overseas with him (brother-in-law Basil Melanson), but I couldn’t do it,” said McLellan, who has no regrets. “I wasn’t sorry that I couldn’t get over.”
McLellan, who married his wife Elizabeth in 1952, moved to Joggins following his discharge. They have lived there ever since. The McLellans, who had 6 children born between 1954 and 1970, also have 15 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
McLellan toiled in mines until the area’s last mine, the Cochrane, closed.
Following his retirement, McLellan, who built wooden battleships as a kid, built such models as the Hudson’s Bay Company Store and a military garrison in Fort Churchill, as well as ships, a church, a coal mine and the old River Hebert Bridge.
These days, McLellan knits dish cloths that he donates to the Bridge Work Shop.
“I love Remembrance Day,” said McLellan. “I often think of the boys that went over and died for us. The Joggins Legion uses me good. They bring me up a dinner on Remembrance Day, a turkey at Christmas and gift certificates for the Co-Op.”