Pilgrimages

French students make pilgrimage to Canada
Pilgrimages

French students make pilgrimage to Canada

During a whirlwind visit to Cornwall, Ont., in mid-August, students from France took advantage of every opportunity to greet and thank Second World War veterans and shower them with Gallic double kisses. “It was a treat to meet the veterans, a duty to honour them,” said Adélaide Caillet, one of about three dozen young people from Normandy on a commemorative pilgrimage to Canada with Westlake Brothers Souvenir Association. “We owe them our current life.” The association promotes remembrance of Canadians who helped to liberate Normandy, then the rest of France, from the Nazis during the Second World War among Norman youth. It is named for Toronto brothers George, Albert and Thomas Westlake, who died within days of each other shortly after D-Day in June 1944. George died in the bloody battl...
Two wars in two weeks
Pilgrimages, Uncategorized

Two wars in two weeks

In July, pilgrims from across Canada visited battlefields, cemeteries and memorials in France, Belgium and the Netherlands “If yesterday was the longest day,” says Ed Pigeau, “today was probably the hardest day.” Pigeau is summarizing days 3 and 4 of The Royal Canadian Legion 2015 Pilgrimage of Remembrance during the daily after-dinner debrief. The longest day—Day 3—took the 27 pilgrims in detail through the first day of the Invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces crossed the English Channel to the north coast of France in the largest amphibious invasion ever. Coastal resort towns—Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer—became battlegrounds, and Juno Beach became synonymous with Canadian valour. Pigeau is a Dominion Vice-President of th...
Normandy Tour: Juno Beach Route
Army, Military History, Our Veterans, Pilgrimages, Remembrance

Normandy Tour: Juno Beach Route

The 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy will introduce a new generation of Canadians to events that have long stirred the imaginations and collective memories of veterans and their children. There will no doubt be extensive television coverage on June 6, centered on major Canadian commemorative events at the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer, but there will be much else to see and do in Normandy during June, July and August. Here are some suggestions from someone who has led several group study tours to Northwest Europe. First, if you have not found a place to stay in Normandy, you will need to get on with that right away. As noted in the November/December issue (In The Footsteps Of War) more and more people are travelling to Europe to explore the sites...
The Royal Canadian Legion 2013 Pilgrimage of Remembrance: The Pilgrims’ Watch
Our Veterans, Pilgrimages, Remembrance

The Royal Canadian Legion 2013 Pilgrimage of Remembrance: The Pilgrims’ Watch

A century ago, Alex Wilson of Killam, Alta., won a watch at a carnival. It was in his pocket when he enlisted and during the Battle of Passchendaele when he was wounded. The young stretcher-bearer returned to Canada with two things he loved—his bride, Leah Beatrice Jones who had nursed him, and the prized Elgin watch. “When I inherited the watch in 1969, it was broken,” explains Alex’s son Dave who did not participate in the pilgrimage. “We wound it up but it never worked again.” With the finish worn away and hands fixed between 11:04 and 11:05, the watch was a family heirloom telling not the time, but of a different time. Dave handed the watch to his grandson, Alec Dreichel of Westerose, Alta., to take along on the Royal Canadian Legion 2013 Pilgrimage of Remembrance. “I want...
Pilgrimages

Vimy: Through Generations

95th Anniversary Silence reigns over the fields surrounding the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, about 175 kilometres north of Paris. The pockmarked battlefields where 100,000 Canadians fought 95 years ago have been softened by time, the slumped shoulders of the trenches clothed by grass and surrounded by spring-green forest. It is in stark contrast to the muddy no man’s land, water-filled shell craters and splintered stubs of trees that remained after the metallic rain of more than a million shells during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. On this day, nothing moves on the undulating terrain. The cold and pelting rain have driven even the birds to shelter. But, bobbing above a green ridge, a thin, dark line appears, soon animated by a chorus of high, excited voices. And aroun...
So Much To Learn: 2011 RCL Youth Leaders’ Pilgrimage Of Remembrance
Pilgrimages

So Much To Learn: 2011 RCL Youth Leaders’ Pilgrimage Of Remembrance

Guns fired in the distance as the 26 members of The Royal Canadian Legion’s Youth Leaders’ Pilgrimage of Remembrance stepped off the coach amid endless rows of potatoes and other vegetables in Belgium. These were not the guns of long past battles, but merely the propane gas guns that randomly fire to scare away birds from the maturing crops that rise from the First World War battlefields. Still, the sounds of battle were in the pilgrims’ minds as tour guide John Goheen stood under an unassuming sign commemorating the events of Kitcheners Wood during the First World War. When the Germans used gas for the first time in the war, it was aimed at French and colonial troops who were unable to hold their line. A six-kilometre gap opened in the Allies’ line protecting the city of Ypres w...
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