Eyres, Ardwell

Ardwell Eyres served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War.  Born in Cameron, Ontario, Ardwell grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression.  His father was a farmer, so Ardwell remembered that they always had food to eat, but he was aware of the economic circumstance that befell others.  Ardwell did go to high school for a time, but he remembered that it was not for him, so he opted for farm work too, eventually leaving school and working on his neighbour’s farm when he was a teenager.  While at school, he did become aware of the war, and with the coming of the war , new opportunities opened up for him as the Canadian government began to focus on the war effort.  Ardwell took classes to prepare him for this, and he sought to become a draftsman.  That took him to Toronto, and Ardwell was at the centre of the new technical economy, working for Addison Radio.  By now 18 years old, Ardwell knew he’d soon have to make a choice; he knew the army would soon be looking for him, so he opted to join up so he could he choose the area of the forces that he wanted.  Ardwell and a friend joined up, and were quickly whisked off to the Exhibition grounds and basic training.  While there, Ardwell was prepared for a role in the Signal Corps, but the needs of the war effort saw him redirected to the Medical Corps.  Soon the men were sent to Halifax, and Ardwell was posted to his first ship, the Lady Nelson hospital ship, and they were sent overseas, ready to be play a role in the Normandy invasion.  They did take wounded back to Canada, mostly men from the Italian campaign, and Ardwell had compelling memories of that first voyage.  On return to Canada, Ardwell was posted on the Ile de France, a troop ship, and he spent the remainder of the war on this ship, ferrying men to the overseas campaign in Europe.  Along the way, Ardwell had many experiences and adventures on both sides of the Atlantic, as he did his part to put Canada on the road to victory.  With the end of the war, Ardwell made his way home, settling and marrying in the west end of Toronto, and he and his wife fell into the rhythm of postwar Canada, raising a family and playing their role in Canada’s growing economy and changing society.

Ardwell Eyres was interviewed for this project in July 2018, when Scott Masters visited him and his daughter in their home in Toronto’s west end.