Month: March 2000

O Canada

The Picnic King

In September 1924, more than 3,000 excited children gathered at Exhibition Park in Toronto to meet a kindly gentleman who was known across Canada as the Picnic King, the Summer Santa Claus or the Orphans’ Friend. Each child who visited the park that day received an orange, some peanuts and candy, a large scoop of ice cream and a thick slice of cake. The children also came away from the picnic with a nickel and a "shin-plaster". The latter was the name given to a Canadian banknote that was worth 25 cents. The amount of money that was given to each child may not seem like much by today’s standards, but at the time it represented a small fortune to the children who were mostly orphans or from disadvantaged families. For many of the youngsters the highlight of...
O Canada

Weather Station Eureka

There it was…on the bottom corner of page 25 in the Yellowknifer newspaper: "Handyperson–Department of Environment, High Arctic Weather Station, Eureka, Ellesmere Island. Position open to residents of the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta." I qualified as a Northwest Territories resident by a scant three months because I had moved–in early October–from Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, to the barren flats of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories where it was already -22 C. I knew one person in Yellowknife–the sister of a friend back home. She and her family had put up with me for three months while I looked for work. I was broke. Northern jobs paid well and I was prepared to go as far north as necessary to get one. I had hoped to get hired on at the new Ekati diamond mi...
War Art

Tom Wood

Tom Wood's paintings depict life in the Royal Canadian Navy during WW II. From top to bottom: The Beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer and Stokers. There is a rusty, industrial look to Tom Wood’s war art. Raw sienna and grey are two of the colours that layer the canvases of this official Canadian war artist who painted for the Royal Canadian Navy from February 1944 until March 1946. Wood used these colours to create a sense of foreboding in his wartime depictions of the RCN at work on the cold sea. Born in Ottawa in 1913, Wood was mostly a self-taught artist who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in May 1943. During his time as an official war artist, Wood painted in Newfoundland, England and on Canadian corvettes and frigates on the North Atlantic. He became a lieutena...
Army

The March To The Seine: Army, Part 30

The Allied commanders planned the battle of Normandy as the first phase of a long deliberate campaign to liberate France. On D-Day plus 90–Sept. 6, 1944–they hoped to control an area bounded by the rivers Seine and Loire and then pause long enough to build up resources for a series of operations that would bring them to the borders of Germany. Hitler and his generals, meanwhile, poured all their resources into the defence of Normandy and so when the Allies broke through, the enemy could not muster enough troops to hold Paris or stop an Allied advance. The situation was so fluid that anything seemed possible, even a quick thrust to Berlin to end the war in 1944. General Bernard Montgomery became obsessed with this idea. On Aug. 17, when the battles around Falaise were still raging, ...

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