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Month: September 2006

O Canada

Riding The Cycling Craze

PHOTO: HOWARD MORTON BROWN, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—C002624 An 1800s bicycle owner in Ottawa. "If this craze for bicycle riding continues much longer our livery stable men will have to close down," warned the editorial in the Fort Macleod Gazette in the early 1890s. "The young man and his best girl," continued the editor, "...will shortly have no use whatsoever for...a horse and buggy, and consequently the livery industry will receive a death blow." The southern Alberta town was in the midst of the cycling craze that was sweeping across North America and Europe. By the time it peaked in the mid-1890s, factories that previously turned ...
Air Force

The Battle Of Britain: Air Force, Part 17

The Battle of Britain looms large in the history of World War II. It also represented the first commitment of the Royal Canadian Air Force to combat in that war, although the Canadian role was small compared to future operations. PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA037470 A German aircraft over London, England, in 1940. The official dates of the Battle of Britain--July 10 to Oct. 31, 1940--were established well after the fact in 1943 when a Battle of Britain clasp for the 1939-1943 Star (later 1939-1945 Star) was being proposed. Postwar studies show that the significant battle was actually much shorter. Following the Dunkirk evacuation and t...

The Advance To The Moro: Army, Part 66

PHOTOS: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA142067 From top: A bulldozer pulls an anti-tank gun across a swollen river near Colle d'Anchise, Italy, in October 1943; Canadian soldiers cover their ears while firing a mortar. By late October 1943, information from Ultra provided evidence of the enemy's determination to defend the Winter Line south of Rome and to continue to build up forces in Italy and the Balkans. While the Allies deployed 11 divisions, General Albert Kesselring's 10th German Army included 10 divisions with a further six allocated to Northern Italy to pacify the army's territory, crush the insurgents in Istria and Slovenia to protect the coastal flan...

Building A Scrappy Little Navy: Navy, Part 17

PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA116982 HMCS Fraser leaves Vancouver in 1937. In the aftermath of the first Czech crisis of early 1938, Canada's prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, vacationed in Bermuda where he spent two long afternoons chatting with Admiral Sir Sydney Meyrick, commander-in-chief of the Americas and West Indies Squadron of the Royal Navy. The two talked about war plans for the western Atlantic, and Meyrick was deeply impressed with King's concern over naval preparedness. Indeed, as Meyrick reported to London, King believed that the "readiness shown by the British navy was a very big factor in the avoidance of war" during the recent crisis. According to most historians, such an interest in things military was uncharacteristic of the prime minister, a ma...

Planning For The Day After

PHOTOS: ALF SPENCE Provincial cabinet ministers tour the Nanaimo, B.C., HQ in 1958. Inset: the author in the broadcast station. The Cold War seemed to some of us a much hotter possibility in the 1950s. The United States and the Soviet Union were poised to hurl hundreds of nuclear warheads at each other. Rockets were accurate enough to target any city in Europe or North America, warheads were lethal enough to utterly destroy a whole countryside and annihilate a million souls, and prevailing winds could spread radioactive fallout for thousands of kilometres. It only required a miscalculation or faulty diagnosis of a radar echo to trigger the d...

They Were Young As We Are Young

It was plain to see that the Veterans Affairs Canada pilgrimage to mark the 90th anniversary of the battles of Beaumont Hamel and the Somme would not be one involving World War I veterans, but it would certainly be about remembrance--with special emphasis on today's youth. PHOTO BY TOM MACGREGOR From left: Monica MacAusland and Chantelle Mariasha LaRose shed tears at one of the cemeteries. No World War I veterans could be on the June 27 to July 5 trip, but veterans groups, including The Royal Canadian Legion and 10 other organizations, would be represented along with five veterans from WW II and six Canadian Forces veterans. The Legion would be represented by newly elected Dominion President Jack Frost who travelled to France following the June 25-28 dominion convention in Calgary. ...

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