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Month: April 2009

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Health File

  Video Games Keep The Mind Sharp Researchers have long known that constantly challenging the brain through things like learning a new language or taking up a musical instrument helps keep the brain sharper as we age. Now we can add playing video games to that list. Researchers at the University of Illinois have found the mental workout of a video game requiring strategy improves cognitive skills for everyday life. Adults in their 60s and 70s trained to play the strategy game, Rise of Nations, showed improvement in verbal recall, ability to switch between tasks, working memory and reasoning ability, among other things. The object of the game is global domination; to win, players need a variety of skills to build virtual cities, operate armies, manage economies, feed and employ populat...
Air Force

Winding Down Western Air Command: Air Force, Part 32

With the Japanese gone from the Aleutian Islands, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Western Air Command began running down its combat role while increasing its emphasis on training and transportation. Long-range patrols were reduced, and the aircraft establishments of flying boat squadrons were cut from 15 to nine aircraft. However, replacing Stranraer aircraft with Cansos meant operational efficiency was maintained. Three fighter squadrons were transferred overseas in late 1943, and on March 15, 1944, Bomber Reconnaissance Squadrons No. 147 and No. 149 were disbanded, as was 163 (Fighter) Sqdn. Another patrol squadron, No. 120, followed on May 1, 1944, and further cuts involved No. 115 in August 1944 and Nos. 9 and 132 in September 1944. In spite of the receding threat on the West ...

Caught Between Powers: Navy, Part 32

The Newfoundland Escort Force’s baptism of fire in June 1941 marked the start of the Royal Canadian Navy’s formative experience. What became known as the North Atlantic Run quickly defined a role for Canada and its navy within the evolving system of western defence. However, in the early summer of 1941, the longevity of that role was not guaranteed. In fact, even as the NEF conducted its first operations, plans were afoot to draw the still-neutral United States into the northwest Atlantic, and hand over all naval operations to them. British and American staff talks in early 1941 produced the basic strategic and planning structure for the Anglo-American war effort. Under the terms of this document, dubbed ABC-1, the Western Hemisphere, including Canada and the western Atlantic, fell ...

Battling Beyond The Gothic Line: Army, Part 81

The strategic purpose of the Allied attack on the Gothic Line in Italy in August 1944 was to engage the enemy and prevent the transfer of German divisions to France or the eastern front. On Aug. 31, when the Canadian Corps broke through the main defensive positions known as Green Line I, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the German commander-in-chief for Italy, was told all local reserves available to the German 10th Army had been committed, but they were unable “to seal off enemy penetrations.” Kesselring agreed to transfer 29 Panzer Grenadier Division and other resources to meet the Allied thrust. It was clear to him that the Allied centre of gravity was the Adriatic sector, not the Florence-Bologna route, and so there would be no more German troop withdrawals from Italy. Howeve...
O Canada

Highway H2O

Jim Coke graduated from Montreal’s McGill University in 1953 with a degree in electrical engineering, worked for a year and in the spring of 1954 embarked on a backpacking tour of western Europe with a friend. As Coke tells it, they spent the summer sleeping in fields and barns when they couldn’t find an appropriate bed and headed for home when they ran out of money. The young engineer returned to Montreal just in time to land a job on what was arguably the biggest Canadian construction project of the postwar era—the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway. “It was totally exciting,” recalls Coke, who spent 17 years in the operating and maintenance department of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority before joining the Department of Public Works in Ottawa. “There have been huge projects since t...

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.