Commissionaire Carol McRae, keeping the Wardroom safe and warm


2Lt Jamie Boparai
Base Administration

Commissionaire Carol McRae does more than just ensure guest safety and the security of CFB Esquimalt’s Wardroom. She is a helping hand when a guest is in dire need.

Before COVID-19 cleared the rooms of regular boarders, members of the New Zealand Navy were guests at the lodging. One day, a young New Zealand sailor hurt his back and McRae sought out an icepack to help ease the pain in the affected area. She gave a few comforting words to the sailor, who was far from home, before sending him to his room to rest.

“A little while later he came back,” after speaking with his mother back home. “They came up with the nickname Canadian Mom.”

Being extremely friendly and outgoing has earned her the recognition and respect of her peers and those she serves.

“I love to talk to people from all over Canada and other countries around the world.”

She has worked at the Wardroom for about a year checking members in and out, answering their inquiries, and doing security rounds throughout the building.

“It takes a special type of person to be successful in this type of work. Being helpful and cheerful, being able to work as part of a team, and having the temperament to stay calm during very rarely seen uncooperative situations.”

Many commissionaires have ties to the defence community having served in the Canadian Armed Forces prior to entering the commissionaire realm. For McRae, her connection is through her father, a Signalman in the British Navy during the last few years of the Second World War.

“I am so very proud of our veterans, they gave so much over the years. I am just grateful for all they have done for us,” says McRae.

Like most employees on base, COVID-19 has altered the way she does her work. The Wardroom has 137 rooms and on average hosts 40 in those rooms, with surges during courses and functions. However, at this time there are only a few members staying at the Wardroom. It is now the isolation center for the Pacific Fleet for military members coming and going on deployments. Unfortunately, they are deprived of enjoying the welcome atmosphere McRae brings as members must remain in their rooms with meals brought to them by designated staff.

She looks forward to the day things return to normal.

“There is nothing that I don’t like about it [her job]. I hope to be doing this long term and perhaps even until I am 85.”


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