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Month: May 2005

O Canada

Doctor Of Adventure

PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA-CO25327 As a physician and British Columbia statesman, John Sebastian Helmcken was well travelled by the late 1800s. British Columbia physician John Sebastian Helmcken had a lot of experience to draw upon when he sat down to write his memoirs in the 1890s. For starters, he had travelled the world, logging some 45,000 miles by sailing vessel. And later, while working as a surgeon for the Hudson’s Bay Company, he had piled up countless miles of rough wilderness travel by canoe and horse. In still another role, he was instrumental in B.C.’s decision to join Confederation. Indeed, Helmcken’s role in the early years of B.C. medicine and politics led the provincial government, in 1913, to name Canada’...

Keeping The Corps Together: Army, Part 58

PHOTOS: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA-PA001027; CO80027 From top: Soldiers wear gas masks while examining a rifle in 1917; Medical personnel tend to a soldier burned by mustard gas in WW I. The Canadians who captured Vimy Ridge in April 1917 were proud of their nickname, the Byng Boys, but by June of that year Sir Julian Byng had moved on to take command of the 3rd British Army while Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie assumed command of the Canadian Corps. As Jack Hyatt has demonstrated in his biography of this unusual Canadian hero, Currie’s promotion occurred during a period of personal financial difficulty and considerable political pressure. To Currie’s everlasting credit, these issues were not allowed to interfere with his leader...

The Birth Of The Submarine Service: Navy, Part 9

PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA-CO32270 H-class subs under construction at the Canadian Vickers Ltd. shipyard, Montreal, in 1916. In 1914, the modern submarine was completely untried in war, but its potential as a deadly weapon of stealth was widely understood. Indeed, near panic ensued off Canada’s west coast when the first Canadian submarines were spotted near Esquimalt harbour on the morning of Aug. 5, 1914. While an examination steamer raced toward the harbour, gunners manned nearby coastal batteries. Only the sight of a tablecloth—waving from the conning tower of one of the subs—gave the gunners pause. This bought enough time for word to filter down that the subs were friendly. The incident conveys the enormous accre...
Air Force

Godfrey Of The RCAF: Air Force, Part 9

PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA-PA114776 Air Vice-Marshal Albert Godfrey addresses personnel during a 1943 inspection at Gander, Nfld. Albert Earl Godfrey was a remarkable Royal Canadian Air Force officer, proud of two accomplishments above all else. One was having held, from 1910 to 1944, virtually every rank from bugler to air vice-marshal; the other was that of being the most senior Canadian officer to fire directly on the enemy during World War II. Friendly and popular, Godfrey always looked a few years older than his real age, and was affectionately known as Father Godfrey. His democratic attitude was engendered by experience. Early in 1926, writing of his wartime experiences, he observed: “Only once during my career with t...
O Canada

The New Canadian War Museum

PHOTO: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM The title of our main story says it all: The Dream Comes True. We have a new Canadian War Museum opening in Ottawa on May 8, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. The museum was a long time coming. Its arrival signals a change in government attitude to embrace the premise that the sacrifices of Canadians in time of war are central to our history as a nation and must not be forgotten. It was not always so. The museum was founded in 1880 but actually vanished for 46 years, from 1896 to 1942. In 1967 the war museum ended up in the 1904 building vacated by the National Archives. As well as the government, many individuals, organizations and groups should share in the cre...

Manna From Heaven

PHOTOS: HANS ONDERWATER; HARVEY GOTTFRIED From top: Thankful civilians in the western Netherlands collect food parcels after they are dropped by Allied aircraft; an Operation Manna aircrew poses in front of their Lancaster bomber in April 1945. The following is an excerpt from Days of Victory: Canadians Remember, 1939–45 by Ted Barris. Published by Thomas Allen Publishers of Toronto, the book sells for $34.95, not including tax, and is available at bookstores everywhere. The sky was falling again. Aircraft had suddenly appeared over the western horizon, out beyond the approaches to Waalhaven airfield near the centre of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Next came the roar of the piston engines, growing louder as the pl...

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