Otterman, Bob and Shirley

Robert Otterman was born January 24, 1925, outside Fisherville, Ontario, where he grew up on the family farm.  When the war came, Robert recalls that he did not want to be a soldier; his village was largely German-Canadian, and while the locals disliked what Hitler and Nazism represented, they did not want to fight their past homeland.  Robert did get called up when he was 19, and he chose to go active duty. His training, first at Bradford and then Camp Borden, was quick, and after four month he was on his way to England. The time there was short too, as the men were needed at the front; Robert was sent across the Channel to Oostende, and on to the front lines, which had reached Germany and the Reichswald Forest by then.  At this time Robert went into the Highland Light Infantry and into battle, helping Canada to victory in the war’s final battles in northern Germany. With VE Day, Robert was assigned to the Army of Occupation, and he spent much of the year after the war in Germany, working to restore the peace. When the time finally came to return to Canada, Robert boarded the Ile de France and came back through Halifax, and then by train to Toronto.  He made his way back to his family, and the farm in Fisherville, and began a relationship with family friend Shirley.  A few years later they married, raising a family and falling into the rhythms of postwar Canadian life. Scott Masters interviewed Bob and Shirley Otterman in their home in Fisherville, Ontario in December 2019, along with friend Jerry Van Dyk, whose story can be found on the Community Members section of the Crestwood Oral History Project.