Month: July 2004

O Canada

Ice Queen

Photo: national Archives of Canada--PA206274 HMCS Labrador smashes through sea ice during her 1954 voyage. When the icebreaker Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Labrador steamed out of Halifax on July 23, 1954, nobody was predicting it was the start of one of the most momentous voyages in Canadian maritime history. Yet that is exactly what would come to pass four months later when Labrador became the first ship to complete a continuous circumnavigation of North America. The search for a sea route around the north of the Canadian mainland was an elusive goal not realized for more than 400 years, consuming and frustrating generations of explorers and leading to the death of many of them. A Northwest Passage was seen as a direct route from the trading centres of Europe to the ...
Air Force

A High Flyer, Indeed: Air Force, Part 4

PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA--RE20365 A signed photograph of Ernest Lloyd Janney, taken in Toronto in 1915. The Canadian government’s pre-World War I military aviation policy was simple—there was none. Aircraft trials at Petawawa, Ont., in 1909 had ended in two crashes, and efforts by civilians and middle-ranking officers failed to generate military interest in aircraft. Sam Hughes, the minister of militia and defence, treated aviation with icy silence prior to 1914. Upon the outbreak of war, Hughes adjourned to Camp Valcartier in Quebec to organize personally a Canadian Expeditionary Force, ignoring previous mobilization plans. Inexplicably, on Aug. 25, 1914, Hughes cabled the British minister of war—Lord Kitchener—to ask if the services of aviat...
Army

The Horrors Of Gas Warfare: Army, Part 53

Photo: national archives of canada Richard Jack's painting, The Second Battle of Ypres, depicts the battle scene in 1915. While 1st Canadian Infantry Division was training and re-equipping in England, the war on the Western Front had become stalemated. Trenches began to stretch from the Swiss border to the Belgian coast, with the Kaiser’s army taking up positions on the most advantageous ground. The German army planned to be defensive in the west, defeat Russia and then turn to deal with France and Britain. In Northern France, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had suffered catastrophic losses in the retreat from Mons, Belgium, and was struggling to rebuild its strength. The Canadians would be a welcome addition, and Sir ...
Navy

Saved By A Few Good Men: Navy, Part 4

PHOTO: NOTMAN STUDIO, national Archives of canada--PA028499 Members of the Royal Naval College of Canada's class of 1912 practise rowing near Halifax. By the time Canada was at war in August 1914, only tiny Rainbow, her crew augmented by volunteers, was able to respond. Indeed, she defended imperial interests in the eastern Pacific—from Chile to the Bering Sea. Her captain, Walter Hose, described these days as a “heart-breaking starvation time” for the Royal Canadian Navy. In the last two years before the war, more Canadians deserted from the service than joined. George Desbarats, the deputy naval minister, sympathized with those who bolted from the “irksome and distasteful” life in ships alongside, and made no effort to bring the deserters back...
Defence Today

Improvements Needed For Canadian Forces, Council Says

by Natalie Salat Canadian Forces Advisory Council chairman Peter Neary (left) and Roméo Dallaire highlight the urgency of looking after current CF veterans with the release of a discussion paper. Canada must do more to help the new generation of Canadian Forces veterans and their families adjust to life after military service, says the Veterans Affairs Canada–Canadian Forces Advisory Council. After a year of study, the 21-member council released a discussion paper in March urging the government to reform the current system of veterans benefits, which is difficult to navi...
Defence Today

Winding Down In Bosnia

by Ray Dick It’s cool, grey and drizzling rain in a mountain valley near the northwestern Bosnian community of Sanski Most, the early morning stillness broken only by the rumble of vehicles moving into position to block a 3.5-kilometre section of rural road. The soldiers in the vehicles are Canadian, mostly Royal Canadian Dragoons from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, who now call Camp Maple Leaf in Zgon their home. Routinely, the soldiers conduct patrols within a few hours’ drive of the base and this helps protect the civilians from the bitter ethnic strife. This morning, however, the Canadians are conducting an unannounced weapons sweep, ...

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