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Month: March 1998

O Canada

The Quebec Colossus

He just couldn’t turn down such a brazen dare. All his life Louis Cyr had been called upon to prove the immense strength bestowed upon him by nature. He was not about to allow some upstart to arbitrarily strip him of the title of World’s Strongest Man, earned and bolstered at countless public demonstrations and weight-lifting show-downs throughout North America and England. So, on Feb. 26, 1906–when he was 44–Cyr took on Hector Décarie, a young buck at the peak of his rigorous and scientific physical conditioning. The setting was a cavernous pavilion in Parc Sohmer, an exhibition ground that had sprung up in 1889 to lure customers to east-end Montreal aboard the city’s new tramway system. Parc Sohmer, built by a promoter who had tried to bilk Cyr early in ...
O Canada


Jay Willar straightens stiffly, knuckles kneading his backbone, and surveys the hard-won efforts of a morning’s labor: a 10-foot-wide swath of ground-laid netting festooned with tangled ribbons of pink-brown dulse. The noonday sun is already working its magic, baking it to a deep reddish-purple. Jay’s easy smile invites small talk. He’s putting in a third summer on Grand Manan Island, off the south coast of New Brunswick, harvesting dulse. While he admits that ‘dulsing’ isn’t easy, I’m flabbergasted when he tells me that four months’ picking is worth a whopping $7,000. Hard work notwithstanding, he’s put himself through three years of university harvesting seaweed. Owner of the drying ground and ‘King of the Dulse to other Grand Mananers’, Leroy Flagg strolls over to look at Jay’s w...
War Art

Jack Nichols

The war art of Jack Nichols includes from top to bottom: Normandy Scene, Beach in 'Gold' Area; Drowning Sailor; Troops in Hospital. Jack Nichols paints people. He has no formal education, but his strong canvases have placed him among the top Canadian artists of his time. He is a classic example of raw talent. Born in Montreal in 1921, Nichols was orphaned as a child. Consequently, he wasn’t able to afford an education. By the time he was 14, he had worked at a variety of jobs that kept him painting until the money ran out at which point he would find other work and save again for more painting time. He was influenced and encouraged by artists Louis Muhlstock and F.H. Varley. Nichols, who now resides in Toronto, joined the merchant navy as an ordinary seaman in 1940. Four years l...
Defence Today

Military And Legion Respond To “Bosnia Without The Bullets”

by Ray Dick It started with a whimper, a dark omen on a weather radar screen that was tracking steadily from the southern U.S. towards the Canadian Great Lakes region, and ended with a crippling bang that caused half a billion dollars damage, at least 20 deaths and left more that a million people without heat, light and transportation in southeastern Ontario,Quebec and New Brunswick. This is Bosnia without the bullets," said one soldier, who recently returned from the former Yugoslavia, about the devastation he found in the Montreal area from the worst ice storm in recent history. The soldier was quoted by Chief of Defence Staff Maurice Baril, on one of several trips he made to areas devastated by the storm that struck in early January. More than 15,500 troops, including ...

D-Day At Sea And In The Air: Army, Part 20

The long frustrating debate over the timing and location of a Second Front in Northwest Europe came to an end at the Quebec Conference of August 1943. Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and their senior military advisers were briefed on the progress of Operation Neptune, the planned assault phase of Operation Overlord. They agreed the invasion of France would take place in May 1944. The planners outlined four conditions that had to be met if the landings were to be successful. First, the enemy must remain ignorant of the actual landing area. Second, the Allies must achieve complete air and naval superiority in and over the English Channel. Third, the local defences must be largely destroyed by air and sea bombardment. Finally, the Allied air forces must prevent the enemy from bringing u...

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.