Pilgrimages

What would you do?
Pilgrimages

What would you do?

I take a breath, scoot to the edge of my seat—ready to exit the van and eager to investigate our next stop. I walk along Ruytershoveweg Road toward a tall white wall, set back from the street and seemingly out of place among the trees that surround it. The beautiful clean lines and balanced shape appeal to me; I like the contrast of white against the green forest backdrop. It is peaceful here on the outskirts of Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands, on this October day and I am aware of the crunch of gravel and fallen leaves as I approach. I stand dead centre at the entrance to the Dilemma Maze, an interactive art installation, as our guide, Peter Stoop, asks the question, “What would you do?” Located beside the Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, this dynamic maze consists of a pattern of c...
A tour to remember – The Royal Canadian Legion 2019 Pilgrimage of Remembrance
Pilgrimages

A tour to remember – The Royal Canadian Legion 2019 Pilgrimage of Remembrance

In the early hours of Aug. 19, 1942, a largely Canadian military contingent conducted an ill-fated raid on German-occupied France. More than 6,000 infantry, including Private George Davies of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, landed on the beach at Dieppe that morning and faced deadly enemy fire. More than 3,600 of those who made it ashore were killed, wounded or captured, but Davies survived. Seventy-seven years later, his daughter Kathleen Matteotti is making her own journey across the Atlantic as a member of the 2019 Royal Canadian Legion Pilgrimage of Remembrance. The Legion’s first pilgrimage was organized for the unveiling of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France in July 1936, and the Legion has conducted pilgrimages of remembrance since 1988. On July 7, I join Matteotti...
Dutch gratitude
Pilgrimages, Remembrance

Dutch gratitude

Holland’s appreciation of Canada abounds as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands approaches   The Netherlands was a neutral country when the Second World War broke out on Sept. 1, 1939, with Germany’s invasion of Poland. However, Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, pulling the country into the war. By May 17, it was under German occupation. The next five years were brutal for the Dutch people. The south was liberated by the end of 1944, but the rest of the country not until the first months of 1945, and not completely until German forces surrendered on May 5, 1945. Canadian airmen, sailors and soldiers played a major role in the liberation of Holland and, to this day, the Dutch people gratefully remember their sacrifices. This gratitude and ...
Their names live on
Pilgrimages

Their names live on

Story and photography by Tom MacGregor I found the name I was looking for on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, along the stairway where moments earlier school groups and regimental representatives had placed wreaths. The name, under the 44th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was simply D.C. Bowes. Clifford Bowes was killed at Passchendaele in 1917. Though he was buried at the time, by war’s end the grave could not be found and he is commemorated here— one of 54,616 Commonwealth dead who fell in Belgium and have no known grave. It was a discovery for me, similar to ones made by 10 of the pilgrims on The Royal Canadian Legion’s 2017 Pilgrimage of Remembrance in the various military cemeteries visited throughout France and Belgium. The pilgrimage i...
Commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge
Pilgrimages, Remembrance

Commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge

More than 25,000 people attended the April 9th ceremony to commemorate the achievements and sacrifices of Canadian soldiers 100 years ago at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The ceremony included speeches by dignitaries from Canada, Britain and France, as well as musical and acting performances. Some 100,000 soldiers fought in the four-day battle, which marked the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together side by side. The success, however, came at a heavy cost of more than 10,600 casualties, including nearly 3,600 killed. The victory at Vimy empowered Canada to step away from Britain’s shadow and forge a new identity as a strong, independent nation. Story and photography by Stephanie Slegtenhorst Canadian Cadets stand at attention during the singing of the Canadian national...
Pilgrimage to Turkey: Going back to Gallipoli
Pilgrimages

Pilgrimage to Turkey: Going back to Gallipoli

The Newfoundland Regiment was the only North American military unit to fight in Britain and France’s costly Gallipoli Campaign in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire   Not long after landing in Gallipoli in September 1915, the Newfoundland Regiment found itself stalled in trench warfare, constantly harassed by sniper fire. In particular, Major T.M. Drew, the acting commanding officer, had noticed a Turkish sniper firing from a small knoll midway between the opposing trenches. The enemy took his spot at dusk and waited for night to pick his targets, then left before daylight. Drew gave an order to rid the regiment of this menace. Lieutenant J.J. Donnelly was detailed to lead six men and a non-commissioned officer to an abandoned post hidden from enemy view in the afternoon o...

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