The Battle of Vimy Ridge is remembered as one of the pivotal points in Canadian history. It is often said that it was the moment Canada came of age. But as historian Jack Granatstein points out the truth is much more nuanced.
Cathy Andrews volunteers at the Royal Canadian Legion in part as tribute to her grandfather. She said Wilfred Edwin Andrews was a quiet man who served as an acting lance corporal during the period the Great War.
He served with the 169th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His granddaughter, ladies auxiliary president, honours his memory.
City of Toronto seeks public help gathering personal stories for the Eaton’s Goes to War exhibit.
Mildred Kennedy’s family served Canada in its armed forces, but few noticed.
“It was lonely,” she said.
Mildred Kennedy is the widow of Gottfried Kennedy, a Royal Canadian Air Force photographer, who served in the military in 1967, during the Cold War in the Canadian Arctic.
The man after whom James LeRoy is named, was wounded in the last month of the Great War.
“He was in a lot of pain,” LeRoy said of his grandfather.
James A. LeRoy, an 18-year-old from a farm near Belleville, Ont., served and was wounded in the second battle of Cambrai, in France, in October 1918.
“He had never experienced … combat and the life in a trench wasn’t easy,” his grandson added.
James LeRoy Jr. serves as chaplain with the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11, in East York, where members staged a parade and remembrance service on Nov. 6.
P.J. O’Neill has a strong sense of when Canada became a nation.
“Canada has never been conquered,” he said. “We’ve never had foreign enemies on our (soil).”
On Saturday, April 9, 2016, members of the Todmorden Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 10, commemorated the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France. In April 1917, the Canadian Corps was ordered to seize Vimy Ridge, then occupied by the German Army.
As they have for the past three years, on Remembrance Day, the students at Westwood Middle School in East York will read aloud the names of soldiers who attended the school in the past and who died in the Canadian armed forces. And while Principal Marc Sprack reminds the students of the need for peace in the world, he recognizes the opposite still exists. “Peace is part of war,” he said. “(But) we can’t just talk about peace without offering the dichotomy.”
Moera Hunter wears the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets to help her understand the significance of Nov. 11. “It brings honour,” she said.
Moera, 12, joined the Air Cadets two months ago. During the lead-up to Remembrance Day, she’s been selling poppies for the first time on Pape Avenue in East York even in freezing temperatures and chilling winds.
“I think everyday people … every race, culture, generation, religion, all of them should remember … (those) who have given them all that they have today – the freedom, the ability to walk onto the street,” she said.
This week, Joanne Barden stood at the entrance of the newly opened Target store on Danforth Avenue. She had a box of poppies slung around her neck. “Two young men… they took poppies and made a donation … and they told me they respected our veterans very much, and they respected the military, and I found that extremely rewarding,” Barden said.
A former mayor of East York says the Second World War and Canadian vets have left a lasting impression on his community.
Part way through the 1939-1945 war, the Canadian Government faced the task of moving soldiers back into civilian life when hostilities ended. To ease the transition, Parliament passed the Veterans’ Land Act in 1942 to encourage veterans to purchase land and houses throughout Canada.
Alan Redway, the former mayor of East York, believes the Act helped shape East York into a community that relied on veterans for growth.
“After the First World War, there were veterans who built houses in the southeast corner of East York,” he said.