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Month: October 2008

O Canada

Heart Of The Market

George Tsioros—proprietor of the Olympic Food and Cheese Mart in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market—can tell you the story of his life in a sentence, which is a small miracle of brevity when you consider that he was born in Greece, that he is now 64 years old, that he has run his own business since age 18 and that he has more than 600 different cheeses packed into his 75-square-metre (800-square-foot) shop, some of which sell for $100 a kilogram. “I came to Canada when I was 16,” he says. “I got off the boat in Montreal, caught a train to Toronto, went to the home of my sister and brother-in-law, and the next day I was in the market.” That was on Nov. 22, 1960, and he’s been there ever since. His sister and her husband owned a meat store, and the teenaged Tsioros worked part time for the...

Doctors In The Ranks

Why would a well-respected surgeon from a prestigious Canadian university decide, in his early 50s, to enlist in the Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CFHS)? “It’s about the best surgical unit in Canada and I wanted to be a part of it, and the way to be a part of it is to join up,” says Dr. Vivian McAlister, a professor of surgery at the University of Western Ontario in London, who is now also a major who has served with 1 Canadian Field Hospital in Afghanistan. The medical professionals who have responded to recent intensified recruiting efforts by the Canadian Forces have many different motivations. Some, like Captain Jason Bailey, a neophyte physician at CFB Petawawa, signed up to ease the financial burden of earning a medical education. Others, like Captain Chiam Liew, a...

Camp Holiday For Veterans Brings Back Memories

Norm Carnell has his eye on a big rock about two feet under the surface of water in Lake Joseph. The Royal Navy veteran makes his cast out towards that and then waits. It’s not long before his line begins to stretch and his fishing rod bends. A big smile lights up his worn face as he reels in a rock bass the size of his hands. He skilfully removes the hook from the fish’s mouth and tosses the squirming creature back into the water. “I’ve been fishing all my life,” says the long-term resident of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. “I’ve got about 10 or 12 so far. Last year I must have caught 50.” Carnell is one of 20 veterans from Sunnybrook and 16 from Parkwood Hospital in London, Ont., enjoying June 16-19 at camp in Ontario’s famous Muskoka cottage country. They hav...

Combat Engineers Bring Relief From The Danger

These engineers say jokingly that they tell their wives and daughters that they’re in Afghanistan working as cooks, or building wells, or fixing schools, or anything other than what they really do. They call it “recce by kaboom” and it could well be the worst job in Afghanistan. With the threat of improvised explosive devices and mines extremely high, it’s the job of these brave Canadian combat engineers to drive out in front of Canadian convoys in their special blast resistant vehicles, literally proving the route safe by risking their own lives. “We also call it ‘detection through detonation,’” says a smiling Sergeant Sean Fisher, a 34-year-old from Brandon, Man. “Though detonation is not the preferred way of finding them,” he adds. The vehicles these guys pilot—Huskies or Bu...
Air Force

Airmen Over Arnhem: Air Force, Part 29

Official Royal Canadian Air Force histories of the Second World War have, of necessity, concentrated on policies directly affecting the national contribution and with particular reference to personnel in RCAF units. Unhappily, this has meant the stories of Canadians serving in Royal Air Force units have been underwritten. These men and women, often referred to as the Lost Legion, have occasionally protested such oversights, but the fact is their adventures can be told thoroughly only by subtracting other material from the official histories or by producing more books. In many instances, the experiences of the Lost Legion personnel were not markedly different from those of their RCAF colleagues in Canadian squadrons. Thus, Canadians serving in No. 35 Squadron, which was an RAF unit i...

The Newfoundland Escort Force: Navy, Part 29

Until the spring of 1941, the Royal Canadian Navy had no clear indication that it would find its calling in the broad reaches of the North Atlantic. The process of defining that role culminated in May, when the British Admiralty called upon the RCN to form the Newfoundland Escort Force (NEF), and concentrate its resources there in the defence of transatlantic convoys. The establishment of the NEF not only brought together the main elements of the fleet that would fight—and win—the battle against the U-boats, it also brought together several key players who would lead the RCN’s escort and anti-submarine campaign for the balance of the war. By early 1941, the United Kingdom-based escorts were taking convoys to roughly 22 degrees west longitude, where outbound convoys were dispersed...

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