O Canada

Appreciating “Voice of Fire”
O Canada

Appreciating “Voice of Fire”

“My five-year-old could paint that.”  This was a familiar response from viewers staring at “Voice of Fire.” The huge painting—on a canvas measuring 5.4 metres by 2.4 metres—by American artist Barnett Newman occupied a central place in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The problem wasn’t that it consisted solely of a vertical red stripe against a blue background, it was that in 1990, $1.76 million of Canadian taxpayers’ money had been used to buy it. It didn’t help that the Canadian economy was sliding into recession at the time. And it didn’t help that the artist was an American. “Voice of Fire” did have a Canadian angle; it had been created for Expo 67, where it was displayed in Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome—the United States pavilion. But when news broke that the Nation...
The ‘fightingest’ ship in the navy
O Canada

The ‘fightingest’ ship in the navy

In the course of its remarkable life, HMCS Haida was attacked by German bombers, engaged with enemy battleships, participated in the Normandy invasion, escorted Russian convoys, sank U-boats, circumnavigated the globe, and shelled trains during the Korean War. One of 27 Tribal-class destroyers built between 1937 and 1945, Haida is the only one that has survived. It sank more enemy ships than any other Canadian warship, earning it the nickname “the fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy.”  Haida was launched in a shipyard in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East England, on Aug. 25, 1942, and commissioned into RCN service a year later. Its first few months were spent in escort duty, but it saw more action the following year. In January 1944, Haida joined Operation Tunnel and Operation Ho...
O Canada

The legacy of “Mr. Veteran”

Born in Fort William (today’s Thunder Bay, Ont.) in 1919, Cliff Chadderton enlisted with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on Oct. 15, 1939, with the idea of playing hockey for them. He had been playing for the Winnipeg Rangers, farm team for the New York Rangers. “That’s really why I got into the Army,” he said.  “It wasn’t for military reasons at all.” But he was soon pressed into action and quickly rose through the ranks. In October 1944, he was in command of a company of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. They were fighting at the Leopold Canal in northern Belgium when a German grenade exploded nearby. “That ended my war,” Chadderton said.  “My troops dug me out.” They put him in a small boat and ferried him across the canal using rifles as paddles. Stretcher-bearers then took him to a field hospi...
Valour on the road to Cambrai
O Canada

Valour on the road to Cambrai

Samuel Lewis Honey was born in Conn, Ont., to Reverend George Honey and Metta Blaisdell. A schoolteacher, Honey enlisted at the age of 21 in January 1915. In 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for his raids on German trenches. The citation read, “He did most excellent work in clearing an enemy’s communication trench and establishing a block in spite of heavy opposition. He personally covered the withdrawal of his own and another squad under a very heavy grenade fire.”Honey was modest about his feats. “I think the rest of the party deserved recognition as much as I did,” he said. At the Battle of Vimy Ridge, he earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Under tremendous fire and taking heavy casualties, he was forced to dig in. He held his position for three days, “encouraging his m...
A grand hotel
O Canada

A grand hotel

The Château Frontenac opened on Dec. 11, 1893, one of the grand Canadian Pacific Railway hotels that include the Banff Springs Hotel and the Chateau Lake Louise. Designed by American architect Bruce Price, it sits on a prominent site in Quebec City, perched 54 metres above the St. Lawrence River. Several additions over the years have yielded an 18-storey, 618-room castle that has been called the most photographed hotel in the world. Both the Château and the site are steeped in history. It was named for Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, the governor of New France from 1672 to 1682 and 1689 to 1698. Under his sometimes-choleric leadership, the French took possession of much of the continent. To the west are the Plains of Abraham, the country’s most famous battlefield, where the French s...
The short heroic life of Buzz Beurling
O Canada

The short heroic life of Buzz Beurling

George (Buzz) Beurling was credited with 31½ “kills” in the Second World War, more than any other Canadian pilot, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Cross and two Distinguished Flying Medals. He was a gifted pilot, a superb marksman and fearless in battle. He died young, at 26. These qualities are usually enough to create a mythic figure, but Beurling failed to capture the public imagination the way First World War ace Billy Bishop did, and he wasn’t beloved by fellow pilots or his superior officers. Born in Verdun, Que., Beurling wanted to fly from an early age, taking his first flight when he was 12. He tried to join the RCAF but was turned down because he lacked academic qualifications, having dropped out of school at 15. So he went to England and t...
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