Ian Hopkins in his Parksville home. (Cloe Logan photo)

Reminiscing with one of Canada’s oldest submariners

Parksville’s Ian Hopkins among oldest members of the Submariners Association of Canada

From plunging the depths of the Arctic to herding chickens in Comox, Ian Hopkins has done it all.

He’s now been officially recognized for some of his efforts and is acknowledged as one of the oldest members of the Submariners Association of Canada.

Hopkins, now 94 and living in Parksville, once spent more than 30 days in a submarine in the Arctic with 64 other people from the British Navy. He was born in a small town in Ireland called Wicklow, and joined the Navy as a young man. He then spent seven-and-a-half years serving in the Royal Navy — on land and on the sea.

During boot camp training, Hopkins said he had to get creative to get by. He said he got paid three shillings a day when he first started out in the Navy.

He said one day he offered to cut one of the other men’s hair at boot camp, even though he’d never touched a pair of hair-cutting scissors in his life. He said the man liked his haircut and gave him a hefty tip, so he continued to do it for other people at the base.

“My father had retired, but I said to him if you ever come across electric hair clippers, please get them for me,” he said.

He said his father ended up sending the clippers over, but with a bill for 39 pounds attached to it — nine months pay. Yet, Hopkins said it was worth it.

“This is the only thing that saved me in the Navy, I couldn’t have existed on the original pay,” he said.

READ MORE: Canadian navy plans to extend life of submarines

But the real adventure came when Hopkins joined the submarine branch of the Navy.

Before he knew it, he was off on an expedition to the Arctic. One that lasted more than a month.

The weather was bad and the water choppy. Hopkins said even as they went down as far as 80 feet, they were still rolling about eight degrees with every wave. One day, they had been underwater for about 17 hours when they realized the oxygen generator and CO2 absorption unit weren’t working. He said that was only one of the mishaps that happened during the expedition.

“We didn’t have a cup to drink out of, we didn’t have plates, they were all smashed into the bad weather,” he said. “We just had to use what we had —the condensed milk tins… that was our cup.”

After his experience in the Arctic, Hopkins eventually made his way to Canada. He started up a woodworking business in Comox and then moved onto farming. At one point, he was raising 3,000 meat birds and supplying 60 dozen eggs a week to local restaurants.

And now, 75 years after his experience in the Arctic, Hopkins spends his time in Parksville retired, but still busy. He’s written about his experience in a 143-page book he put together, titled ‘My Longest Journey.’

“I’ve probably been to the moon and back,” said Hopkins.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps despite court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Two Scout leaders found near Sooke

The pair went missing Sunday afternoon

Hundreds of wax figures find new life in Saanich man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Greater Victoria has Canada’s sixth-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions and reduces mobility, researcher says

BEING YOUNG: Swiping right and left is here to stay

Online dating apps as much about personal affirmation and entertainment as it is relationships

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

Michelle Obama: In Conversation in Victoria, March 31

Former First Lady hosted by Victoria Chamber for moderated event at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre

Kingfisher spa now open following early January fire

Owner Bill Brandes offered personal funds to minimize the impact of the situation on his employees.

Off-leash dogs could be a thing of the past on Saanich beaches

‘This isn’t about loving or hating dogs, it’s about finding the right balance’ councillor says

Cowichan Valley Regional District requests rainstorm, flood photos via online tool

Officials want to know more about how that type of event impacted the region as a whole.

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Most Read