Canada Corner

Canada’s Bletchley Park
Home Front, Military History

Canada’s Bletchley Park

Ottawa had its own top-secret code-breaking establishment In 1942, David Hayne, a recent University of Toronto graduate, was undergoing artillery training at Camp Niagara in Ontario when he received two mysterious letters that changed the course of his life and helped place Canada in the forefront of intelligence gathering. The first was from a professor of French who asked Hayne if he would fill an opening at the National Research Council (NRC). There was no indication of what the work involved, only that it was connected with the war and that the letter writer found it absorbing. The young grad concluded that the job related to the French language, his passion. Still, he dispatched a cautious reply, saying he expected to begin his military career almost immediately. That letter...
Military Moments | Passchendaele
Multi-media Features, News

Military Moments | Passchendaele

 Passchendaele slithers off the tongue like some reptilian creature’s name. The word for the 1917 battles east of Ypres, Belgium, represents a legacy of loss and repulsion. The forlorn and shell-eviscerated combat zone in Flanders was embattled throughout much of the war, and was a particularly vicious cockpit for the Canadians. Narrated by Canvet Publications’ Stephen J. Thorne, this Military Moment takes us back to the fall of 1917, three years into the First World War, the front was a ruined and shattered battlefield of endless craters and mud that trapped both the living and the dead. The Canadian Corps was thrust into this menacing warscape to help Britain, France and Belgium achieve a long-sought goal to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. That did not happen, but the battle of...
Battle of Britain Day
Air Force, Military History, O Canada

Battle of Britain Day

Hitler’s plan was to destroy the Royal Air Force then launch Operation Sea Lion, an invasion of England. Winston Churchill assumed as much. “Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war,” he told the House of Commons in 1940. “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: “This was their finest hour.” The Battle of Britain was a proving ground for Britain’s aerial forces, and it also stirred Churchill to some of his most memorable speeches. On June 4, 1940, he addressed the House, emphasizing how critical the RAF would be in the months ahead. He ended with the famous words: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing gro...
Defence deal
Canada Corner, Home Front, Military History

Defence deal

The first Canadian-American defence alliance was born in menacing times After the German invasion of Scandinavia, the Low Countries and France in April, May and June 1940, the chances of Britain’s survival seemed very much in doubt. In Canada, there was consternation and fear, but the federal government dutifully sent every military resource it had at its disposal to bolster the United Kingdom’s defences. The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division joined the 1st in southern England. A Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadron helped the Royal Air Force resist the Luftwaffe’s onslaught. And the RCN’s four destroyers in the Atlantic proceeded overseas. Canada had promptly stripped itself bare to help the desperate mother country. Nonetheless, the astonishing Nazi conquests forced the Canad...
The last of the biplanes
Home Front

The last of the biplanes

It was 1939 and the Canadian Car and Foundry Company’s (Can-Car) new FDB-1 fighter-bomber had just demonstrated that it could out-climb a Hurricane or Spitfire.  After flying it, an RCAF test pilot extolled its dogfighting agilities, which he said would also challenge that of contemporary fighters. Aeronautical engineer Michael Gregor had earlier convinced Can-Car’s Montreal headquarters to hire him to design and build a new highly manoeuvrable fighter-bomber at their facility in Fort William, Ont. (now part of Thunder Bay). Gregor’s creation was somewhat radical: a biplane at a time when monoplanes were all the rage. But Gregor was a huge fan of biplanes and of enhancing their potential. “They’ll start the war with monoplanes but finish it with biplanes,” he said. Can-Car’s general ma...
Military Moments | Canadians in the Battle of Britain
Multi-media Features, News

Military Moments | Canadians in the Battle of Britain

 This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, which took place from July to October 1940. Our new Military Moment and the next issue of Canada’s Ultimate Story explore the Canadians who took part in the furious air defence of Britain against the German Luftwaffe. As Winston Churchill later proclaimed "Never, in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few." Narrated by Canvet Publications’ Stephen J. Thorne, this Military Moment takes us back to July 10, 1940, when the Luftwaffe struck hard at Great Britain, attempting to soften the country for a land invasion. The Battle of Britain started with Luftwaffe raids on shipping in the English Channel, then on airfields and radar bases. In early September, the attacks shifted again, to London, Coven...