Tag Archives: Hicks

Last Post: Capt Larry Hicks, CD

Yesterday at the Regimental Church, we said a final farewell to Captain (Ret’d) Larry Hicks, CD who had been a valuable member of our museum team for the past five years. Below are remarks I shared as Curator, during the funeral service.

“I’m John Stephens and I first met Larry almost 40 years ago in 1979 or 80 when I was a young Cadet Instructor Cadre officer with a QOR affiliated cadet corps, and Larry was also a young officer with the regiment. I recall that for the next ten years or so (and unlike some of his colleagues who had less time for the cadet program) he was always friendly and helpful on our occasional participation in regimental events or my visits to the mess.

By the early 1990s I was working with a cadet corps affiliated with the 48th so saw less of Larry through the army. But we were both involved with Scouting and I would sometimes see him at the 5,000 acre Haliburton Scout Reserve. It was there that I first came to know of his love of the outdoors and particularly canoeing, and of his appreciation for wildlife.

Another decade would pass until I would see Larry again at the Christmas Officers’ luncheon:

“So Larry – what’s new?” (It was always easy to pick right up again with him.)

“I’ve just retired from both the Police and the Army” he said.

“Very nice! So any plans for retirement?”

His response was along the lines of “More canoeing, more time at the cottage, and more time on my photography hobby.” My ears perked up – photography hobby? Hmmmmm….

“So what are you up to these days?” he said. “Funny you should ask” I replied with a smile.

Earlier that year I’d been recruited as the Curator for the Regimental Museum – big shoes to fill in a line of very long serving and dedicated predecessors! We’ve started re-cataloging all the objects in the collection I explained, but – baiting the trap – we really need someone with a high skill level to help us photograph them as part of that process. It would only be “one night” a week – Do you think that’s something you might consider helping with?

“That sounds like it could be interesting” Larry replied. “Great” I said, slamming the trap shut. “I’ll see you on Tuesday night!”

And so began our past five years of working closely together in preserving and sharing the regiment’s history.

I don’t recall Larry ever saying anything bad about anyone – he was easy going, ALWAYS willing to share a story, and I don’t ever recall seeing him flustered. He did have some mixed feelings about finding himself in so many photos in a museum but that’s understandable.

He approached his photography tasking as a professional, bringing all the skills and expertise from his police work and applying them to our often chaotic situation. Always offering suggestions on how to improve our process and manage the massive collection of photographs we were creating. And he was always on hand at museum and regimental events to create the newest photographic record. As per the original plan, we used his photographs in our collections database but we also created a Flickr account that has over 11 THOUSAND photographs organized in about 75 albums– almost all taken and curated by Larry. He was so valuable to our team that when he had an early conflict with our work nights – we changed the night to Thursdays!

His most recent project was he was “de-framing” hundreds of photographs from frames that were damaged or had broken glass or mold starting to form. After removing them he would take them home to scan them, then put them in acid free folders, label them, and place them in archival boxes – all with a genuine concern from preserving them for the future.

And Larry was always will to pitch in whatever task – or rush to move exhibits and cabinets – was needed on any given night.
That “one night a week” turned into over 800 hours of work for the museum over the past 5 years, and I was very pleased that the CO and RSM agreed with my recommendation that Larry be presented with the CO’s Commendation and the Command team coin at our February recognition night.

You’ll be sorely missed tonight in your makeshift photo studio tucked in the back corner of our attic storage room; and you’ll be missed at our post volunteering pub visits at Mayday Malones where we’ll raise a final glass to you; and you’ll be missed by all of us as both a colleague and a friend – sleep well.”

In honour of Larry’s outstanding contribution to our museum’s collection of photographs, we’ve renamed our Flickr site, the Capt Lawrence G. Hicks Memorial Collection of Photographs.

Volunteer Profile: Larry Hicks

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?

Take a look at our product. The displays. This website. Facebook. We have over 5,000 photos on Flickr alone. Then look at other museum sites. We put on a good show and were proud of it.

South African Ration tin (lead)
South African Ration tin (lead)

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.