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The Happiest Prisoners
Home Front

The Happiest Prisoners

In the shadow of Mount Baldy, where lodgepole pine and trembling aspen compete for space in Alberta’s spectacular Kananaskis Country, all that remains of a Second World War prisoner of war camp are weedy building foundations, a rundown guard tower and a restored commandant’s cabin. Here and at 25 other locations across Canada, 35,046 German soldiers, sailors, airmen and potential insurgents were incarcerated under a program one later called “the best thing that happened to me.” It’s how many of them felt about their time here; and it’s partly why more than 6,000 wanted to stay after the war ended. The first camps were created to lock up some 358 individuals of questionable loyalty living in Canada and rounded up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police soon after war was declared in ...
The Rush For Rubber
Home Front

The Rush For Rubber

On Dec. 7, 1941, in a co-ordinated strike without equal in the annals of war, the Japanese wrought havoc on units of the United States Pacific Fleet in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, invaded the Philippines and Hong Kong, assumed control of Saigon and the rest of French Indochina, landed invading forces at two points on the northeast coast of Malaya, and bombed Singapore. Other units headed for key invasion points in Sarawak, North Borneo and the Dutch East Indies. Using bicycles as their principal means of transport through the Malayan rubber plantations, the Japanese advanced swiftly and silently, outwitting and outdistancing the British, Australian and Indian defenders. These co-ordinated attacks gave Japan control of the Indian Ocean and severed the artery of the Allied rubber ...
In The Shadow Of War
Home Front

In The Shadow Of War

Nadia Jarvis was nine years old in September 1939. Her parents, Ukrainian immigrants by the name of Peter and Anastasia BosHuck, owned the Venice Cafe on a busy street in downtown Saskatoon and the family lived in a second-floor apartment above the restaurant. Young Nadia had spent her summer holiday roaming back alleys and playing games in vacant lots with the children of the blacksmith, the grocer, the barber and others in the neighbourhood. She had no idea the world was on the brink of the biggest and deadliest military conflict in human history until one afternoon in early September. Suddenly, her tranquil life was upended by newsboys racing up and down the street brandishing hastily printed editions of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and screaming—at the top of their lungs—Extra! Extra...
Home Front

The Farmers' War

On April 14, 1941, federal agriculture minister James Gardiner delivered an urgent address to the nation’s farmers. His words were broadcast coast-to-coast by CBC Radio. Canada had been at war for nearly 20 months and Gardiner began by summarizing where things stood. The Allies were in the midst of a titanic and deadly struggle with Nazi Germany for control of the North Atlantic. They had to win, as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had earlier warned, or totalitarianism would triumph over democracy, slavery over freedom, evil over good. “I do not come offering,” Gardiner declared, “I come asking. Asking that every Canadian dollar and every Canadian acre be made to yield its utmost toward the accomplishment of Churchill’s double purpose—the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic ...

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.