Month: March 2019

The toll on a sniper’s brain
Health, Military Health Matters

The toll on a sniper’s brain

The headaches, sleep problems, visual disturbances, balance problems, dizziness, ringing in the ears and memory lapses are symptoms familiar to troops who use explosives to gain access to military targets—or blow them up to eliminate the threat from bombs or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They call it breachers’ brain, and it has been shown to be the result of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), commonly called a concussion, caused by exposure to blast waves. In athletes, concussions are usually caused by head trauma—hockey’s hard body checks, football’s tackles or the spills experienced by cyclists and skiers. But what was going on when Special Operations Force members started reporting concussion-like symptoms, even when not exposed to explosions or head trauma? The Departmen...
Provisional government declared in Saskatchewan
Military Milestones

Provisional government declared in Saskatchewan

In the 1880s, the Canadian Prairies were a political powder keg. Bison herds were gone, land had been signed away in treaties and indigenous peoples were starving. The Métis wanted title to their homesteads and farms, whose boundaries were ignored by government and railway surveyors. After poor harvests in 1883 and 1884, farmers were desperate. Settlers, encouraged to buy land along the rail route expected to run from Winnipeg to Edmonton, felt misled at best, cheated at worst, when the line was built instead to Calgary through Regina, commonly known as Pile of Bones until 1882. They all felt their pleas for help went unheard in seats of power to the east. The Métis called on Louis Riel to help. Fifteen years earlier, his successful resistence resulted in The Manitoba Act, whi...
Eight Cantleys and one Cantlie in the First World War
Front Lines

Eight Cantleys and one Cantlie in the First World War

Of 619,636 Canadians recruited during the First World War, there were 7,432 Smiths and 148 Smyths, 2,965 McDonalds and 1,646 MacDonalds, 2,342 Johnsons and 1,532 Johnstons. There were 1,797 Stewarts and 294 Stuarts, 1,220 McLeans and 310 MacLeans. There were just eight Cantleys and one Cantlie. According to their service records posted online by Library and Archives Canada, some were born overseas, yet they hailed from a wide swath of their adopted Canada, enlisting in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Manitoba. From bridge-builder to prospector to railroader, they reflected the core trades and values of a growing, developing country of fewer than eight million people. Most were privates, earning a mere $15 a month—about $500 today. Two brothers made officer, another was a decorated lieuten...
Songs from the patriotic heart
Military History

Songs from the patriotic heart

 When he was a teenager in the early 1900s, Torontonian Gordon V. Thompson regularly sang gospel at his mother’s missionary meetings and dabbled in writing verse. Honing his creative talents and with the help of his brother’s print shop, by age 21 he had published 10 evangelical Life Songs, which he and his buddies peddled door-to-door. With the outbreak of war in 1914, the content of his songs quickly changed. Picking up on public fervour, he spotted an opportunity—and switched from the religious to writing songs appealing to the patriotic and sentimental. Two of his first were the 1915 compositions “When Jack Comes Back” and “Where is My Boy Tonight?” He was not the only one. Songwriting had recently become a popular thing to do. Pianos were common in the living rooms of most...
Dutch gratitude
Pilgrimages, Remembrance

Dutch gratitude

Holland’s appreciation of Canada abounds as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands approaches   The Netherlands was a neutral country when the Second World War broke out on Sept. 1, 1939, with Germany’s invasion of Poland. However, Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, pulling the country into the war. By May 17, it was under German occupation. The next five years were brutal for the Dutch people. The south was liberated by the end of 1944, but the rest of the country not until the first months of 1945, and not completely until German forces surrendered on May 5, 1945. Canadian airmen, sailors and soldiers played a major role in the liberation of Holland and, to this day, the Dutch people gratefully remember their sacrifices. This gratitude and ...
Washed ashore
Artifacts

Washed ashore

Somewhere off the coast of Florida on Feb. 25, 1958, Canadian navy pilot Lieutenant Barry Troy, 29, of Campbellton, N.B., was lost at sea. Troy was with No. 871 Squadron at HMCS Shearwater, then the naval aviation base in Nova Scotia. But he and three other pilots were flying McDonnell F2H Banshees from Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Fla., to land on Canada’s aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure about 64 kilometres out at sea. The four jets ran into an unexpected fog bank; three pilots turned right and emerged into clear sky. Troy, flying only about 150 metres above the water, turned left, presumably to avoid colliding with the other aircraft. It is thought he became confused while flying by instruments and hit the sea. Some floating wreckage was recovered, but a sea...

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