Carl Freeland: Patriot. Family man. Caregiver. Gardener. Born Aug. 26, 1926, in Westmeath, Ont.; died Jan. 13, 2018, in Kingston, of heart disease; aged 91.
If there had been a book written about Carl Freeland, the title might have been The Spy who Typed 60 Words a Minute. Carl’s quick fingers would take him into a world of classified secrets and wartime intrigue.
Raised on a farm in Winchester, Ont., Carl would deliver milk by horse and cart, and sell blocks of ice for refrigeration as a boy. As a teen, he worked as a telegraph operator, becoming proficient at Morse code. Once the Second World War began, Carl recalled sending telegrams to families whose sons were missing in action.
But that didn’t stop him from lying about his age and joining the Canadian Armed Forces. During training, officers were surprised that he could type up to 60 words a minute and he was assigned to service units at Canada’s original code-breaking bureau. He briefly worked at Camp X, an Allied training school for covert agents in Whitby, Ont., but even today – because of the Official Secrets Act – no one is certain specifically what his job entailed. Carl took his secrets to the grave.
After the war, Carl worked for what would become the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). For fun, he ran a sports lottery in the office. A tall brunette named Audrey Hunt refused several times to buy a ticket from him, until she eventually gave in to Carl’s persuasion. He made her promise that if she won, she would take him out with her winnings. She won, and the date led to a joyful, 67-year-long marriage.
They had four sons, Mike, Steven, Andy and Timmy, who tragically died in an accident when he was 5. Carl’s family was of the utmost importance. As a father, he gave his children free rein on their aspirations, always supported their paths and took a keen interest in their lives.
In 1973, Carl moved the family to southwestern England when he was posted as a liaison officer at Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ). For three years, he worked closely with U.K., U.S. and NATO diplomatic services. The family enjoyed their time in England and Carl attended two garden parties at Buckingham Palace as part of his diplomatic post.
They returned to Canada in 1976, where Carl continued his work with CSE until he retired. In 2016, he was honored as part of CSE’s 70th anniversary in Ottawa. Carl was the last surviving member of the original core division and he was thanked for playing a significant role in CSE’s evolution and development.
In retirement, Carl continued to follow politics and current events, and was amazed at the modern world of communications. He enjoyed spending more time in his garden and with Audrey. In the latter years of Audrey’s life, he gave her unfettered care and did so lovingly and without complaint.
From humble beginnings, Carl rose to serve the security of his country. He was, without fail, warm and welcoming to everyone. He is deeply missed by those who knew and loved him.
Steven Freeland is Carl’s son.
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