John Anderson joined the Defence Research Board in 1966, thereby beginning a forty-year career in defence research and development. “I remember having a very clear choice after I completed my Master's degree,” John relates. “Do I go into defence research, or do I go into ‘academic’ research? I have never regretted my choice, because the defence-related work has always had a mission.”
John began his professional career at (then) Suffield Experimental Station, and his first professional assignment was research into the effects of nuclear weapons. “This was important work; we had to know what a nuclear weapon could do before we could begin to figure outways to protect ourselves.”
After leaving Suffield, John moved on to other assignments, including a four-year stint on the International Staff in NATO Headquarters in Brussels. “An absolutely fascinating and rewarding experience, both personally and professionally”, John says.
John became a Volunteer Interpreter at CWM in 2007 and mostly spends his time in Gallery 4, which covers the years of Canadian history after the end of World War II, including the Cold War. John explains the Cold War to gallery visitors by telling them that the only difference between a “hot” war, e.g. World War II, and the Cold War is that in the Cold War we never got around to pulling the trigger. “But“, he adds “we did everything short of that. We warped our culture, our finances, our education system, our research and development activities and our manufacturing capabilities, everything, to prepare for a war that, thankfully, never happened.”
He sums up his CWM experience as follows, “We should think of the War Museum as an exposition of five hundred years of Canadian history, told from the viewpoint of the wars in which Canada has been involved, either by choice or otherwise, and illustrated with enough artefacts to keep the story ‘real’.
Although John was born and raised in Toronto, he thinks of Alberta and Saskatchewan as his spiritual home. John and his wife Carin, who was born and raised in the Netherlands, have four children.
John provides an insightful book review for each edition of the Torch.