Back, Wib

Wib Back was born May 11, 1926 in Toronto. Wib’s early life had its difficulties:  his mother died when Wib was just 11, and his father was unable to care for Wib and his siblings, so they ended up going into foster care through the Children’s Aid Society.  Wib was consequently moved around, going to several schools, and when he was 16 he was taken out of the system, and was unable to graduate from high school. Undeterred, Wib got a job as a hardware store delivery boy, and he made ends meet by polishing his brother’s brass buttons – the siblings did find ways to keep in touch.  During this time Wib got his first taste of the military when he joined the 48th Highlanders Cadet Corps. He lived in several foster homes during the early war years before being taken in by a young widow, and he stayed there until he joined the navy in 1944. Training took Wib to Sydney, Nova Scotia, where he served on shore patrol in addition to other duties; his first few months in the navy also marked his first time on a boat, as well as swimming instruction.  After his initial time in Nova Scotia, Wib was sent overseas to HMCS Niobe, in Scotland. He was there a short time, as the war in Europe had begun to reach its conclusion. Wib joined in the VE Day celebrations, and was quickly sent back to Nova Scotia, expecting to go to the war in the Pacific. He kept busy in Nova Scotia, working in the naval library and doing ship cleaning duty. The war against Japan also came to an end before Wib could be deployed, so he returned to Toronto and resumed work with Mutual of Omaha, marrying a few years later and starting his family and doing his part to build postwar Canada.  Wib was interviewed in his home in Mississauga by Scott Masters, in August 2019; we thank the Memory project for facilitating this meeting.