WJ'55 Masthead Scouts Canada

Reunion for Scouts from 50 years ago

This article is from the Belfast Telegraph, May 2, 2005.

By Ben Lowry, Belfast Telegraph

Former scouts who attended a world jamboree in Canada 50 years ago are being sought for a reunion in Co Down.

Thirty leading scouts from Northern Ireland joined 11,000 others from across the world at the event in Niagara, Canada, in August 1955.

A reunion dinner will be held on Wednesday, May 18, at Banbridge Golf Club, but organisers have been unable to trace all those who went to Canada.

Seventeen are already confirmed as coming to the dinner, including two from overseas. A further two have sent regrets and seven are believed to be dead.

World jamborees are held every four years and this was the first one to be held outside Europe.

Most of the selected boys were Queen Scouts, which is the highest scouting level.

Flying across the Atlantic was largely limited to a privileged elite in the 1950s, and none of the boys had made the journey before.

The sense of excitement was heightened when a hurricane over the Atlantic caused their plane to divert to Iceland.

After breakfast at the airport in Reykjavik, the plane continued to Newfoundland and then Toronto.

At the jamboree, the Northern Ireland contingent was in a sub-camp called Timberlands, where many Ulster emigrants to Canada came to visit.

Bert Wilson, who is organising the reunion, said: "We made friends from many countries and we put on shows. The Belfast and Co Down scouts formed the basis of an Irish dancing team."

Mr Wilson, from Banbridge, added: "Many of the people who went to the jamboree went on to do their best in life and have been successful."

Mr Wilson can be contacted on 028 4062 3784.