Tom and Pat Larkin

As Tom Larkin’s father was a Royal Canadian Artillery soldier, their family was transferred throughout Canada at the pleasure of Her Majesty’s Forces.

Tom was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, in 1956. Shortly thereafter, however, his father was transferred to Shilo, MB. Various short duration transfers eventually terminated when Tom Larkin, Sr. was transferred to Winnipeg in the mid 1960s. The family was finally able to put down roots in St. James-Assiniboia, with Tom attending various schools in the Heritage Park and Crestview area. The family moved to Red Lake, ON, in the early 1970s when Tom’s dad retired. It was here that Tom completed grades 11 and 12.

Tom joined the RCMP right out of high school at the age of 19 in 1975. Upon graduating from the RCMP Depot Training Academy in Regina, SK, he served his formative years in such Manitoba communities as Leaf Rapids, Norway House and Cross Lake. While stationed in Norway House, Tom ferreted out a beautiful nurse he spied whilst attending the Norway House hospital one night shift. The nurse with the radiant smile turned out to be Pat Alward.

Unbeknownst to Pat and Tom, they both grew up in Winnipeg within blocks of each other, although attended different schools. Upon Tom’s transfer to Beausejour, MB, in 1978, Pat relocated to Pine Falls, MB, where she assumed the role of Public Health Nurse on Fort Alexander First Nation Reserve. Tom and Pat were married in Beausejour in 1979.

A transfer to Winnipeg in 1981 afforded Pat and Tom an opportunity to pursue additional education, Pat graduating from the Health Science Centre’s Intensive Care program and Tom from Red River College’s Computer Programmer/Analyst program. Winnipeg is also the birthplace of Pat and Tom’s children, Sean (1983) and Shannon (1985).

In 1986 Tom was transferred to the RCMP’s computer directorate in Ottawa. Missing the west, the Larkin’s were transferred to British Columbia in 1989 where Tom served the rest of his career as an auditor/educator for Canada’s national police computer system, the “Canadian Police Information Centre”, save for a 6-month temporary assignment as a United Nations peacekeeper to the UNTAG mission in Namibia in 1989-90.

It was during Tom’s UN mission that Pat stoically resisted the urge to sell the house in Langley so she, Sean and Shannon could escape the incessant rainy and gloomy winter skies of the west coast and return to sunny Manitoba!

During the west coast years, Pat and Shannon pursued their passion for equestrian whilst Tom and Sean discovered their love of flying. Tom eventually became a flight instructor, and taught Sean his Commercial Pilot Licence, while Pat and Shannon became equestrian coaches.

Pat and Tom returned to Manitoba in 2008 upon Tom’s retirement, having served 32 years in the Force. They reside on a small farm on the east side of Birds Hill Park. Pat continues to enjoy the health care profession as a Staff Development and Infection Control nurse, while Shannon has also followed her passion to care for others as a paramedic. Tom is a flight instructor at Winnipeg Aviation at St. Andrew’s airport.

While touring Europe in 2007 Sean met a young lady, Sheree Philp, daughter of Helen and John Philp of Taperoo, Adelaide, SA. It was during Sheree’s residence with Pat and Tom during 2009, while Sean was flying Dash 8 in the Congo for the UN, that it was revealed Sheree was in Canada not to reside, but to “collect” her future spouse and return to Oz! To this day it is a standing point of humour within the Larkin family.

In 2011 Pat, Shannon and Tom travelled to Adelaide to witness and participate in the joyous fusion of two families so remote and separated. Tom sought out the DUCW upon their return to Canada to help them retain, appreciate and enjoy the adoption of their new culture.

Sean and Sheree reside in Darwin, NT, with Sheree working for Care Flight air ambulance service and Sean flying for Qantas Link. They recently purchased their first home in Darwin. They have a 4 week trip home to Canada planned for the last week of February. Opportunity permitting, the Larkins are hoping to introduce Sean and Sheree to DUCW members.

It appears that these European (and other) tours sure bring people together!

— Gordon Keatch

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