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Month: November 2004

O Canada

The Haven Covenhoven

PHOTOS: John Woodruff, NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA--PA021681; Communications new brunswick; NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA--PA213804 Sir William Van Horne's summer residence included the house (top) and a windmill; Sir William Van Horne vacationing in Cuba in February 1910. In 1890, the legendary railway baron Sir William Van Horne stopped off at the resort town of St. Andrews in the southwestern part of New Brunswick. He had come to negotiate a railway lease, but while soaking up the sights of the Loyalist town he fell in love with the beauty of Passamaquoddy Bay and its islands, so much so he decided to build a summer home on Minister’s Island, just around a point from St. Andrews. Since this American-born Canadian was a man of awe-inspiring ener...

Kingsmill’s Little Fleet: Navy, Part 6

PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA-PA167307 Trawlers and wooden drifters formed part of the East Coast patrol during WW I. On the day 100,000 men of the Canadian Corps captured Vimy Ridge in April 1917, the Royal Canadian Navy had 10 ships in commission and a dozen auxiliary vessels, manned by fewer than 9,000 sailors. The fleet was larger by the time Canadians spearheaded Allied victory in Europe in 1918, but when heavily armed U-boats cut a swath through the east coast fishing fleet that year, the RCN still had nothing to fight them with. “Mr. (George) Desbarats fiddled while our fishing fleet was sunk,” one critic complained of the deputy minister of the naval service. The German operated in “our own waters, performing deeds of piracy and destruction ...
Slaughter At St-Éloi: Army, Part 55

Slaughter At St-Éloi: Army, Part 55

When the government of Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany decided to change the balance of power in Europe by military action, it did so in the firm belief that the war would be won in less than a year. By the end of 1915, when the casualty toll was estimated at two million Russian, 2.1 million Austro-Hungarian, 1.3 million French, 0.6 million German and 0.3 million British, the war seemed to have become a permanent part of European life. Germany’s grand strategy in 1915 was based on the army’s early victories against Czarist Russia and its partial success in the West, where a defensive war could be fought in Belgium and France until the Western Allies accepted Germany’s terms for ending the war. Despite terrible losses, the overwhelming majority of Germans supported the war and were prepared to ...
Air Force

Preparing For The Past: Air Force, Part 6

PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA The Armstrong-Whitworth Atlas, used for army co-operation flying, joined the RCAF in the late 1920s. Army cooperation flying had been the central role of aircraft during World War I (Eyes In The Skies, March/April). In the interwar years, the Royal Canadian Air Force survived budget cuts and government indifference by making itself useful through “aid to the civil power;” when it could find time and equipment to practice military skills, it concentrated on exercises with troops and warships close to shore, using familiar tactics and methods. In short, the RCAF prepared to re-fight the previous war. Some militia work con...


by Jean Peirson I remember the hustle and bustle that filled our house on the morning of November 11th. It was the 1960s and our small home in Summerside, P.E.I., was crowded: Ten kids, most of us dressed in Brownie, Girl Guide or cadet uniforms, ready to be rushed out the door to the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony at the cenotaph. Mom, a member of the Legion’s ladies auxiliary, was the busiest of all with her efforts to make sure we were fed and properly dressed. My dad, Henry J. Gallant, would be busy as well. His Legion uniform would be pressed and ready to wear. Part of his morning would be spent at the kitchen table where he would quietly shine his black shoes until y...
Defence Today

Eye On Defence: Making Do Is No Solution

by David J. Bercuson PHOTO: ALAN ROWLANDS HMCS Windsor, one of Canada's four new submarines, heads out to sea. The army is currently planning to spend some $600 million on converting its now virtually useless tracked Air Defence Anti-Tank System into a wheeled Multi-Mission Effects Vehicle (MMEV) to supplement the Mobile Gun System it is soon to acquire to support infantry on the battlefield. Maybe it shouldn’t. There is a disturbing trend in Canadian defence spending: life extension programs and conversion projects have recently wasted billions of vital defence dollars. This isn’t a new pattern, either. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on updating Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Bonaventure in the 1960s, only to see it scrapped a bare two to three...

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