Henri Saint-Laurent was born February 5, 1926 in Ottawa. His father was a veteran of the First World War, later a civil engineer who worked for the federal government. Because of his father’s work, the family was sheltered from the worst impacts of the Great Depression, and Henri grew up in relative comfort, and at ease in both of Canada’s official languages. When the war came, Henri saw his older friends go off to join the fight, and with his father’s blessing he joined the navy when he was 16. He reported for training at HMCS Cornwallis, where he opted for gunnery training. Henri was assigned to a frigate where he maintained the guns – but he was not a fan of the shifts, so he opted to take a QO course (Qualified Ordnance Officer). Henri became a “day man”, and because of his new qualifications he was loaned to the Royal Navy. Henri participated in several North Atlantic convoys, delivering critical supplies to Europe – it was one of Canada’s most important contributions to the war effort. Along the way he faced the threat of German U-Boats, as well as the weather of the North Atlantic. With the end of the war the now 19-year-old Henri returned home; he went back to school and found his way in the rhythms of postwar Canadian life. Henri Saint-Laurent was interviewed by Crestwood students in August 2022, at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing.
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