Photos from Ian Hopkins’ book, ‘My Longest Journey.’ (submitted)

Parksville man, 94, among oldest members of the Submariners Association of Canada

Ian Hopkins spent time in the Arctic in a submarine in the 1940s with the Royal Navy

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 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer pens ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’

Qualicum Beach lawyer notes provincial health officer has become a ‘folk hero’

COVID-19: Latest update from City of Parksville

Playgrounds remain closed, bylaw officers to support enforcement of rules

Parksville, RDN moves to Stage 2 watering restrictions as of April 1

‘Snowpack accumulation has been below average’

PQB crime report: Resident provides banking information after email saying they had won lottery

Fraud, theft among 240 complaints received by Oceanside RCMP in one-week period

PQBeat Podcast: Talking cars with Philip Wolf and Peter McCully

Listen: Chat includes best and worst vehicles, dream rides and more

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

COVID-19: List of postponed/cancelled events in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Send your organization’s updates to

B.C. worker advocate group calls for more sick days, protected medical leave

COVID-19 highlights need for changes to workers legislation: Retail Action Network

Sweet treat helps make workers at Island health care centre feel complete

Girl Guide cookies always in good taste when showing appreciation

New rules issued for B.C. construction projects, work camps for COVID-19

Coastal GasLink, LNG Canada, Trans Mountain and Site C carry on

Nanaimo sheep farmer voices fears over flung dog feces

Deborah Wytinck worries parasites in dog feces tossed into pasture could infect her sheep

Canada to spend $2B more on procuring medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

Government has signed deals with three companies

Most Read