Captain (Ret’d) Larry Hicks (in centre above with wife Lee) served for over 40 years with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and was also employed with the Toronto Police Services. Retirement from both gave him time to volunteer at the Regimental Museum and since then he has been photographing literally thousands of artifacts for our collection database, creating images for our exhibits, and capturing museum events. His sense of humour, willingness to pitch in where ever needed, and plethora of QOR memories, make him a much appreciated member of the team!
How did you end up volunteering at the museum?
I was at the annual Officers’ Mess Christmas Luncheon when I struck up a conversation with John Stephens. I knew him socially from past mess functions. He asked me what I was doing since I retired and I replied that I was pursuing hobbies that I never had time for, photography in particular. That’s what retired people do.
He paused for a sec, his expression changed and he smiled. He knew he had me. He needed a photographer at the museum, and I wanted a way to stay involved with the regiment.. And, who doesn’t like castles!
So, for the past 3 years, I’ve been photographing, copying and displaying the many exhibits we have at the museum.
What background do you bring with you that you think helps you contribute in this role?
My last 15 years with the Toronto Police Service were spent as a crime scene Detective. It was a challenging job, and a rewarding way to cap a 37 year police career. My job was to collect evidence at major crime scenes, but I also had to present that evidence in a courtroom and reproduce the scene for judges, juries and the media. TV only shows half the job.
The camera was my main tool and I loved that I was getting paid to practice my hobby.
It was an easy transition to museum photography. Similar product but a different audience, and a lot less stress.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?
I have a pleasant time with the people I work with. Only half have a military background, but we all love history and we all care about the regiment. We go to the pub for a pint and a chat after work.
Casa Loma is a cool place. Every time I go there I find something else that fascinates me. The summer concerts. The movie shoots. Christmas music on the Wurlitzer. It’s good that they don’t pay me, sometimes I don’t get much work done.
What aspect or content of the museum are you most passionate about and why?
Is there one object in the collection that really excites you or that you think people should know about?
Some people are into uniforms. Others are into weapons. I want to tell the story of the grunt, the guy who put his butt on the line for his country, and what he had to endure.
There is a can of field rations in the South Africa exhibit. Something all soldiers can relate to. It’s a can of mystery meat sealed with lead. LEAD! No wonder they’re all smiling in the old photos.
Why do you think a museum like this is important?
A nasty little word I kept hearing throughout my military career was “restructuring”. Regiments come and go. No one knows what the army will look like in another 155 years, but we can show the world what it looked like 155 years ago.
Would you recommend volunteering to others and if so why?
Absolutely. It’s a way to give back. If not to the regiment, do it for history. And, it’s a good group of people to hang out with.
Update: In February 2018 Larry was presented with the Commanding Officer Certificate of Commendation and a Command Team Coin in recognition of over 800 hours of service to the museum, and to his efforts on behalf of RHQ in photographing regimental events. Sadly Larry passed away 23 March 2018. You can read more of his service on his profile page.
If you’d like to help volunteer at the museum, check out our Volunteer page for information and an application.