Home Front

After the wildfire
Home Front

After the wildfire

Fort McMurray rebuilds after a devastating forest fire that caused the largest evacuation in Alberta history   Two years after the devastating wildfire that forced 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray, Alta., to flee their homes, the city has made great progress in its recovery. Along Highway 63, which runs through the city, the trees in June were bare with no green of their own, but grass and low-lying brush were returning. The city itself is in a building boom, caused not by growing fortunes in the nearby Athabaska oil sands, but by insurance claims settled and homes being rebuilt. It is a story of survival and recovery, of military assistance, of co-ordination between municipal, provincial and federal agencies and of neighbours helping neighbours. In many ways, it is a home-f...
Our American airmen
Home Front

Our American airmen

As Canada rushed to find instructors and aircrew for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, many Americans flocked north.   It was 1941 and Britain and the Allies were losing the war. German Panzers were sweeping across Russia and there seemed to be little to stop them. At home, the United States had not entered the war or even seriously rearmed. Some Americans took note that Canada, not the United States, was the arsenal for democracy. The British Eighth Army was transported on Canadian-made vehicles, and the same army fired Canadian 25-pounder shells from Canadian-made artillery. But the most significant contribution to the Allied victory was not munitions and equipment, it was the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), which President Franklin Roosevelt acknowle...
The great call-up
Home Front

The great call-up

What was it like to be conscripted during the First World War? In 1910, William Joseph Rowntree dropped out of school to work full time on his father’s mixed farm near Weston, Ont. So when Ottawa issued its Proclamation Calling Out Class 1 on Oct. 12, 1917, it was well into harvest season and he knew he would have to seek an exemption from compulsory military service. The only other male farmhand his ailing father had was his other son, who was just 14. The proclamation was made under the Military Service Act of Aug. 29, 1917, and it meant Rowntree was immediately deemed a soldier on active service and subject to service discipline. In May 1917, Prime Minister Robert Borden was faced with more than 27,000 Canadian casualties since the start of the year, and recruitment was falling far...
Into icy waters
Home Front

Into icy waters

Fifty years ago, the Ottawa River claimed the lives of seven paratroopers on a routine jump Every May, retired paratroopers, family and friends gather for a small ceremony in Petawawa, Ont., to remember those who died in the worst parachute accident in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces. Fifty years ago, on May 8, 1968, 26 parachutists jumped from three Buffalo aircraft expecting to land in a drop zone on the Mattawa Plains, a flat sandy stretch of land on Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. Instead, rough winds caught them, sending 22 of them into the frigid Ottawa River. Seven drowned before rescuers could reach them. “One of the men, Bob Knight, was my best friend. We chummed around quite a bit at the time,” remembered Dennis Stow, who is organizing the 50th anniversary servic...
War and the women’s vote
Home Front

War and the women’s vote

This year marks the 100th anniversary of not only the end of the First World War, but also the extension of the federal suffrage to most Canadian women, a development spearheaded by tenacious Canadian suffragists and abetted by the war itself. Like the Allies’ victory in November 1918, the Canadian suffragists’ important, but incomplete, victory in January 1918 came after a long, hard struggle. But theirs was a bloodless one. For the most part, it involved petitions to lawmakers, private members’ bills and public education, but not the fiery militant tactics employed by their British counterparts. Led by Emmeline Pankhurst, they would chain themselves to London railings and sometimes resort to bombs and arson. The Canadian women’s suffrage movement began sprouting clubs across the ...
The smoke of war
Home Front

The smoke of war

“Our Boys Want Smokes,” trumpets a First World War storefront window poster sponsored by the Over-Seas Club. “For 25 cents we send a dollar’s worth. Contributions received here for Canada’s Tobacco Fund.” It was happening all across the country: show your patriotism and support our troops in the trenches overseas with gifts of tobacco. Even school kids in Brantford, Ont., were encouraged to donate their pennies to the local Children’s Cigarette Fund. Many other groups in Canada enthusiastically supported similar campaigns. The Vancouver Kiwanis Club donated through an organization called the British Columbia Overseas Tobacco Fund. The Overseas League (Canada) Tobacco and Hamper Fund of Toronto was another. Employers, workers and relatives joined the fervour, sending cigarettes to ov...

CANADA AND THE
VICTORIA CROSS

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The next issue in the award-winning series Canada’s Ultimate Story is Canada and the Victoria Cross. No one ever set out to earn a Victoria Cross, which is awarded for “valour in the face of the enemy.” For dozens of action-packed accounts of valour and sacrifice on the battlefield, order Canada and the Victoria Cross as your next issue!
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