Month: January 2020

The RCMP turns 100
O Canada

The RCMP turns 100

When Canada bought Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1870, it needed to police those millions of square kilometres, so in 1873, the North West Mounted Police was formed by an act of Parliament. Successful applicants had to be males between the ages of 18 and 40, of sound constitution and good character. The pay was one dollar a day and their first job was to clean up the whiskey trade on the southern Prairies. On July 8, 1874, 300 men set out from Dufferin, Man., on a two-month odyssey across the Prairies. They dealt with the whiskey traders, went on to put down the 1885 Métis resistance against the government, and policed the Klondike gold rush. Crowfoot, the inspirational leader of the Blackfoot, said, “The Mounted Police have protected us as the feathers of the bird pro...
Mathematicians’ stab at alternative history unwelcome among WW II buffs
Front Lines

Mathematicians’ stab at alternative history unwelcome among WW II buffs

Many, if not most, historians have maintained for eight decades that Germany could have won the Battle of Britain had Adolf Hitler just done a couple of things differently. Recently, six mathematicians created a new methodology and essentially proved them right, sparking a social media outcry among Second World War buffs, warbird fanatics and proud Britons who would prefer to let their “finest hour” speak for itself. “Bugger off,” wrote Peter Hollis, whose Facebook cover photo is a flapping Union Jack, “we won.” “Divine providence and the human spirit cannot be calculated,” Mike Lee declared in dismissing the study on Facebook’s Supermarine Spitfire Historical Society page. The paper, which quantified the probabilities that Nazi Germany could have won the 114-day battle had the...
Secret deliveries
Military Milestones

Secret deliveries

In June 1943, a German agent penetrated a network in France set up to bring large numbers of escaped Allied airmen back to Britain. A new one was urgently needed. MI9, the British military intelligence department, entrusted the task, code-named Operation Bonaparte, to a pair of French-Canadian volunteer spies. Raymond LaBrosse, a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, was the first Canadian spy recruited by MI9. He had entered France in early 1943 and worked with a French Resistance cell blowing up bridges and trains, conducting other mayhem, and helping Allied personnel trapped behind the lines to safety. When the cell was blown, LaBrosse was ordered to leave, but instead he guided 29 downed Allied airmen to safety in Spain. Lucien Dumais, a sergeant-major with Les Fusi...
Indigenous war heroes – Part 2 – Second World War
Our Veterans

Indigenous war heroes – Part 2 – Second World War

This is the second feature on Canada’s Indigenous war heroes. To read part 1, click here For two years during the Second World War, Charles (Checker) Tomkins, a Métis from Grouard, Alta., was given a secret assignment. It was a secret he very nearly took to his grave, an Indigenous contribution to the war effort almost lost to history. Tomkins learned Cree from his parents and grandparents. He enlisted in 1939, trained and was sent overseas where he was assigned to the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade. In 1942, he received a mysterious summons to headquarters. When he arrived, the room was full of Indigenous soldiers who were put into different rooms, connected by telephone, and given messages to translate to and from English and Cree. Tomkins became a Cree code talker, seconded to the Am...
The Children’s Invasion
Military History

The Children’s Invasion

Citizens of Saskatoon couldn’t contain their excitement when the British children arrived by rail in the late summer of 1940. The largest crowd since the Royal Visit of 1939 was at Union Station to greet the young newcomers. Huge crowds also greeted a party of British children at the Port of Montreal. In Toronto, they were cheered enthusiastically. Who were these children who drew such a warm welcome after arriving from wartorn Britain? These were children evacuated to Canada by a British government-financed agency known as the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB). Even before Great Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, fears of a German invasion were widespread. In fact, the British government had begun slowly planning for war with Nazi Germany soon after Adolf Hit...
Forum research spans mind to moon
News

Forum research spans mind to moon

New ways to control bleeding, better prostheses, vehicles designed to minimize damage from explosions, providing hope and help to struggling military families—these benefits of military health research have wide-ranging impacts on people’s lives. The 750 delegates to the 10th Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research forum in Gatineau, Que., Oct. 21-23 heard about these developments—and many, many more—in nearly 250 research presentations and a half dozen keynote addresses spread over three intense days. Retired general Walt Natynczyk has championed serving soldiers and then veterans, and has come full circle in his appreciation of military-health research. “The evidence you provide, with the hard rigour of research, is vital to how we provide support to our veteran...

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