Canada Corner

A tenacious wildflower
Canada Corner, Home Front

A tenacious wildflower

Each year, The Royal Canadian Legion distributes about 20 million poppy lapel pins across Canada. The poppies are given freely, with people encouraged to donate to the poppy fund in support of veterans in need. But this November, many Legionnaires will be wearing a different type of poppy pin—one that resembles one of the first poppies worn in remembrance 100 years ago. The poppy campaign in Canada has its roots in the First World War. The inspiration for the campaign was the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian artillery in Belgium in 1915. During the Second Battle of Ypres from April 22 to May 25, 1915, McCrae’s friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer was killed by an artillery shell. McCrae conducted an impromptu funeral for his friend, reciting as mu...
First into battle
Canada Corner

First into battle

Japan’s attack on Hong Kong was the first fight of the war for Canadian soldiers. It didn’t end well. “It was a grand day…. Our two battalions marched down Nathan Road steel-helmeted and obviously invincible. The main street of Kowloon was lined by cheering crowds waving small Union Jacks.” Eighteen-year-old Rifleman Ken Cambon was excited by the joyous reception the Canadian contingent received in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, 1941. Describing his barracks, he noted, “We were astounded by the luxury of the camp after eighteen months of Canadian Army life.” Even “lowly” privates had orderlies who delivered tea in bed each morning, shined shoes, pressed uniforms, made beds and even offered shaves. Less than six weeks later, the genteel luxury was literally blown away.   What were Canadi...
Coat of arms
Canada Corner, O Canada

Coat of arms

The Canadian version evolved over 150 years and its evolution was as complicated as the country’s. The idea of a coat of arms originated in medieval Europe. The name was literal: a fabric that went over armour bearing the insignia of the realm. Its original purpose was to discern friend from foe in battle and to identify the dead. Over the centuries, they came to identify other things: families, professions and property ownership among them.  They also became incredibly intricate. Often, a shield remained the central feature, divided into chief and base (top and bottom) as well as sinister and dexter (left and right). The Royal Arms of the United Kingdom features a shield that shows England (three leopards), Scotland (a lion) and Ireland (a harp). It is encircled by the Order of th...
Our Turkish ally
Canada Corner

Our Turkish ally

The Erdoğan empire has done plenty of harm  The Ottoman Empire was once a great power, controlling the Middle East, much of the Balkans and the African shores of the Mediterranean. Despite its size and population, it was widely seen as “the sick man of Europe,” and the First World War led to the collapse of the empire, the loss of most of its territories outside Turkey, and the rise of a secular government under the leadership of Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk was a soldier who had come to prominence for leading the fight against the Allied attack on Gallipoli in 1915. In 1923, after the Ottoman defeat in 1918, he became president of the republic he largely created. He then began a process of modernization with political, social, religious and cultural reforms that separated the new nation fro...
Arctic Mosquitoes
Canada Corner, Home Front

Arctic Mosquitoes

How a squadron of war surplus aircraft conquered the tundra and mapped Canada’s Far North It was 1946: the war was over, surplus airplanes were going for a song and entrepreneurial spirits were high. Some ambitious veteran pilots and navigators, still adventurous and in their prime, figured the stars were aligned for some kind of flying business.  Over its years, Spartan flew 22 types of aircraft. Three ex-flight lieutenants—John Roberts, Russell Hall and Joseph Kohut—were accomplished aviators and eventual business partners. Roberts had flown P-51 Mustangs with the Royal Canadian Air Force on photo-reconnaissance out of the U.K. over enemy-held Europe. Hall navigated Wellington bombers based in Egypt and the Bahamas. Pathfinder navigator Kohut earned a Distinguished Flying Cros...
Operation Yellow Ribbon
Canada Corner, O Canada

Operation Yellow Ribbon

On Sept. 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center towers fell, 2,871 people died, among them 24 Canadians. One of them was former NHL player Garnet (Ace) Bailey, who was on United Airlines Flight 175, which hit the South Tower. The last person out of that tower before it collapsed was believed to be Ron DiFrancesco of Hamilton, who worked on the 84th floor. When the American Airlines passenger plane hit the North Tower first, an announcement told everyone that the South Tower was secure; there was no need to evacuate. DiFrancesco decided to leave anyway. Before he could get to the elevators, the plane carrying Ace Bailey hit the tower between the 77th and 85th floors. DiFrancesco was able to run through smoke and burning debris and finally get to the ground floor. The building then began i...

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