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Norman Kirby, soldier (born 9 July 1925 in New Westminster, BC). Kirby served with the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment during the Second World War. He was involved in the D-Day landings and Normandy Campaign, the Battle of the Rhineland and the Liberation of the Netherlands.
Battle of Vimy Ridge
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought during the First World War from 9 to 12 April 1917. It is Canada’s most celebrated military victory — an often mythologized symbol of the birth of Canadian national pride and awareness. The battle took place on the Western Front, in northern France. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting together for the first time, attacked the ridge from 9 to 12 April 1917 and captured it from the German army. It was the largest territorial advance of any Allied force to that point in the war — but it would mean little to the outcome of the conflict. More than 10,600 Canadians were killed and wounded in the assault. Today an iconic memorial atop the ridge honours the 11,285 Canadians killed in France throughout the war who have no known graves.
John Henry Yahba
John Henry Yahba, Ojibwe farmer, soldier, war hero, labourer (born 1 October 1880 at Saugeen First Nation, ON; died 29 November 1953 in Chippewa Hill, ON). Yahba served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. In the closing month of that war, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his heroism in battle on the Western Front. (See also Indigenous Peoples and the World Wars.)
Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) chief, Indigenous rights advocate, war hero (born on 9 March 1891 on the Parry Island reserve, ON; died 5 August 1952 at Parry Island, ON). One of the most highly decorated Indigenous people in Canada during the First World War, Pegahmagabow became a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and self-determination. (See also Indigenous Peoples and the World Wars.)
Front de libération du Québec (FLQ)
The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a militant Quebec independence movement that used terrorism to try and achieve an independent and socialist Quebec. FLQ members — or felquistes — were responsible for more than 200 bombings and dozens of robberies between 1963 and 1970 that left six people dead. Their actions culminated in the kidnapping of British trade commissioner James Cross and the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, in what became known as the October Crisis.
Harry George DeWolf, naval officer and veteran of the Second World War, vice-admiral, Chief of Naval Staff, Royal Canadian Navy (born 26 June 1903 in Bedford, NS). DeWolf was best known as the commanding officer of HMCS Haida, one of Canada’s eight Tribal Class destroyers during the Second World War. DeWolf entered the navy in 1918 and retired in 1961. A new class of offshore patrol vessels has been named in his honour.
Canadian Women and War
Canada has been involved in various wars from the beginning of its colonial history. Just as the nature of these wars has changed over time, so, too, has their effect on Canadian women. Women have actively participated in war, from nursing and munitions manufacturing during the First and Second World Wars to the increasing involvement of Canadian women in the military.
Frederick Ogilvie Loft (commonly known as Fred or F.O. Loft), Mohawk chief, activist, war veteran, reporter, author and lumberman (born 3 February 1861 on the Six Nations reserve, Grand River, Canada West [ON]; died 5 July 1934 in Toronto, ON). Loft founded the League of Indians of Canada, the first national Indigenous organization in Canada, in December 1918 (see Indigenous Political Organization and Activism in Canada). He fought in the First World War and is recognized as one of the most important Indigenous activists of the early 20th century. His Mohawk name was Onondeyoh, which translates as “Beautiful Mountain.”
Leonard Austin Braithwaite, CM, OOnt, QC, lawyer, politician (born 23 October 1923 in Toronto, ON; died 28 March 2012 in Toronto). Braithwaite was the first Black Canadian elected to a provincial legislature. He served as a Liberal member of the Ontario Legislature from 1963 to 1975.
Sarah Edmonds (Frank Thompson)
New Brunswicker Sarah Edmonds (aka Franklin Thompson), disguised herself as a man and served as a male nurse in the Union Army during the American Civil War. According to her autobiography, she also conducted spy missions behind Confederate lines.
Editorial: Igor Gouzenko Defects to Canada
A knock on the apartment door froze him in his steps. Another knock, louder, more insistent. The knocking turned to pounding. A voice called his name several times. Finally, the pounding stopped, and he heard footsteps going down the stairs. He knew he needed help.
Howard William “Howie” Meeker, hockey broadcaster, player, coach (born 4 November 1923 in Kitchener, ON; died 8 November 2020 in Nanaimo, BC). Howie Meeker won a Junior B hockey championship and served with the army’s Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers before joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1946. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1947, and won four Stanley Cups in his first five years with the Maple Leafs. He also served as a Member of Parliament and played a key role in the development of hockey in Newfoundland. He was perhaps best known for his enthusiastic and influential commentary on CBC TV’s Hockey Night in Canada. A Member of the Order of Canada, Meeker was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame.
Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the Opposition (2020–), Member of Parliament (2012–) (born 22 January 1973 in Montreal, QC). Erin O’Toole served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as a corporate lawyer before being elected the Member of Parliament for Durham, Ontario, in 2012. He served as Minister of Veterans Affairs from 2015 to 2019. In August 2020, he was elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and became the leader of the Opposition.
Charles Lightfoot Roman
Charles Lightfoot Roman, MD, CM, surgeon, author, researcher, lecturer (born 19 May 1889 in Port Elgin, ON; died 8 June 1961 in Valleyfield, QC). Charles Lightfoot Roman was one of the first Black Canadians to graduate from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and became a recognized expert in industrial medicine. He was also one of the first Black Canadians to enlist for service in the First World War, and was the only known Black person to serve with the Canadian General Hospital No. 3 (McGill). Lightfoot Roman was also likely the first Black Grand Master of a traditional Masonic lodge.
Viscount Byng of Vimy
Field Marshall Julian Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy, Commander of the Canadian Corps from 1915 to 1917 and Governor General of Canada from 1921 to 1926 (born 11 September 1862 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom; died 6 June 1935 in Essex, United Kingdom). Byng led the Canadian Corps to victory at the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War. As governor general, he is best known for his role in the King-Byng Affair, when he formally refused Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s advice to dissolve Parliament and call a federal election.
The term “war brides” refers to women who married Canadian servicemen overseas and then immigrated to Canada after the world wars to join their husbands. The term became popular during the Second World War but is now also used to describe women who had similar experiences in the First World War. There are no official figures for war brides and their children during the First World War. In the Second World War, approximately 48,000 women married Canadian servicemen overseas. By 31 March 1948, the Canadian government had transported about 43,500 war brides and 21,000 children to Canada.
Governor General of Canada
Canada is a constitutional monarchy. As such, there is a clear division between the head of state and the head of government. The head of government is the prime minister, an elected political leader. The head of state is the Canadian monarch; their duties are carried out by the governor general, who acts as the representative of the Crown — currently Elizabeth II — in Canada. (Lieutenant-Governors fulfill a similar role in provincial governments.) The governor general has extensive ceremonial duties. They also fulfill an important role in upholding the traditions of Parliament and other democratic institutions. Canada’s most recent governor general was Julie Payette. Following her resignation on 21 January 2021, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner, assumed the responsibilities of the office until a replacement could be confirmed.
Lillian Freiman (née Bilsky), OBE, benefactor, community activist, organizer, civic leader and Zionist (born 6 June 1885 in Mattawa, ON; died 2 November 1940 in Montreal, QC). Lillian Freiman used her high social status and wealth to help those less fortunate, both within and beyond the Jewish community. For her work assisting First World War soldiers and leading the Poppy Campaign, the Canadian Legion made her an honorary life member in 1933. Freiman was the first woman to receive this honour.