Month: May 2001

O Canada

Mapping The Mountains

Topographer James McArthur and assistant W.S. Drewry carry photographic equipment to a mountaintop in 1887.   In the fall of 1910, an inconspicuous wooden box, measuring about a foot square, arrived in the basement shipping rooms of Department of the Interior, the Ottawa-based federal agency responsible for monitoring the settlement of western Canada. A red label pasted diagonally across one side of the box read: Glass. Handle Carefully. Although the railway manifest provided no other clues as to the contents, experienced clerks in the room knew the box contained several hundred exposed photographic glass negatives--an entire season's worth of painstaking surveys in one of the most rugged and inhos...
Memoirs

Training For Trouble

by Andrew F. Maksymchuk   "Don't puke on the grass!" yelled the physical training instructor. I turned my head toward the pavement. "Don't barf on the pavement!" shouted the same instructor. To hell with you, I thought to myself as I let it go halfway up Passchendaele Hill on Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. By the time my regurgitation ceremony was over, the group I was with had slowed to a walk at the top of the steepest hill at the army base northwest of Ottawa. The year was 1975 and I was one of 27 members of the Ontario Provincial Police who had been selected to train for a new tactics and rescue unit created by the OPP to deal with possible terrorist activity in Ontario during the 1976 Olympics. The unit's creation was prompted in part by a number of e...
Memoirs

A Hot Night In The Zone

by Robert Burns   On July 20, 1974, Turkey's military invaded Cyprus in response to an ill-fated military coup aimed at bringing about the union of the Mediterranean island with Greece. During the invasion, the Turks sent thousands of troops in by sea and air and it wasn't long before they had control of the north half of the island. All of this happened in the presence of a long-established United Nations peacekeeping force. During the fighting that followed the invasion, roughly 200,000 Turkish and Greek Cypriots were displaced and forced to find refuge in their respective enclaves. A ceasefire went into effect Aug. 18, but by then Turkey had 40,000 troops and about 400 tanks on the island. Among other things, the invasion led to new difficulties for United ...
Memoirs

The Sweet Escape

by Jennifer Trewartha   During World War I, my grandfather, Private Thomas P. Harris, served as a medic with 6th Field Ambulance, Canadian Army Medical Corps. By Christmas 1917, the young man, who had been born in England and raised in Montreal, had seen action in France and Belgium. While at the front, he continued to write numerous letters to his British sweetheart, Gladys Gillett. Those letters--along with the wartime correspondence he wrote before he was sent off to the front in September 1915--were eventually passed on to my father who recently loaned them to me. Very quickly I became absorbed in the life of a man who died 45 years ago--the year after I was born. Gladys was 18 when she met Tom, in England, and I remember her telling me about riding on the ...
War Art

Charles Comfort

Piazza Plebiscito, Ortona, Italy. War artist Charles Comfort was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1900, and moved with his family to Winnipeg when he was 12. He studied art in Winnipeg, New York and the Netherlands, and as a young artist often painted with members of the Group of Seven. When World War II broke out, Comfort was teaching at the University of Toronto. His sister and her young child were on board the British-registered passenger liner Athenia when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat west of Ireland in September 1939. The attack killed more than 100 people, but fortunately Comfort's sister and her child were among those rescued. The ship's sinking prompted Comfort to enlist in the army in 1939, and he soon became an infantry weapons training officer. ...
Defence Today

Forces Fighting From The Ropes For More Funds

by Ray Dick Defence Minister Art Eggleton chats with Charles Belzile, chairman of the Conference of Defence Associations. A cash-strapped Canadian Forces, nursing outdated equipment and poor morale, has been given a pep talk to boost its flagging spirits by Defence Minister Art Eggleton, who says more money is flowing into a military that he claims is more combat-capable today than it was 10 years ago. It appeared, however, that most of his audience of retired and serving members of the Forces at the Conference of Defence Associations seminar Feb. 22-23 were less than confident in his message about today's Canadian Forces. "The army can't fight...," retired majo...
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