Author: Maddy Macnab On June 7th, 1939, Canada denied entry to over 900 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis. Seventy-two years later, Canada’s part in the fate of the MS St. Louis was officially remembered with the unveiling of Daniel Libeskind’s “Wheel of Conscience” monument, at the Canadian Museum of Immigration. As Canada assumes [...]
Author: Dr. Alexander Herd 69 years ago, on June 6, 1944 Canadians, alongside their fellow Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen, participated in D-Day, the invasion of Normandy, France and the first step towards the liberation of continental Europe in the Second World War. Canadians performed a wide variety of tasks on D-Day. In advance of the [...]
Canadians across the country have poems in their pockets, from a pretty little haiku to historical epics to the latest pop earworm. Every year new poets give us wonderful and engaging works. But we can’t forget the strong Canadian poetic tradition captured by, among others, Bliss Carman’s romantic odes to landscape, Stephen Leacock’s biting satire, [...]
On April 4, 1949, the foreign ministers of Canada, the US, the UK, France and eight other countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty. An armed attack on one member would be an armed attack on them all.
English war brides on their way to Brisbane, 1945.
Mrs. Jones, of Littletown, Canada, thought her heart would stop when she answered the door and saw the telegram delivery boy. It was 1943 and Mrs. Jones’s son, Robert, was stationed overseas somewhere. She took the yellow envelope with a shaking hand. Fearing the worst, she blinked back tears and read: “Getting married. Need 60 pounds. Letter follows.” Mrs. Jones sank into a heap on the floor.
Music was an important feature on the battlefields and the home front during the First World War. Governments, composers and publishers embraced the war as a musical motif to inspire fervor, pride, and patriotism in the hearts of soldiers and citizens. Music was also used to comfort, thank, and express a range of complex emotions unrelated to propaganda. As a result, we’re left with a library of songs from which to understand the war. Many are optimistic rallying cries; some are full of longing for a sweetheart; others like “Don’t Take My Darling Boy Away” quietly protest the injustice of war. Here, we present a sample of songs from the First World War.
Canadian machine gunners dig themselves into shell holes on Vimy Ridge, France, April 1917 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/PA-1017).
“When death reigned, and the agony of pain.” – Private William Perover
When I was a boy and my father’s trauma from his service in Holland was raw in his shattered leg, our family mythology was still dominated by his father’s warrior pride. An argumentative man, my grandfather Marsh ended every dispute with a display of his scarred leg and the expletive “Vimy Ridge!”
When he volunteered at age 41 for service in the First World War, John McCrae wrote to a friend that “I am really rather afraid, but more afraid to stay at home with my conscience.” In April 1915, McCrae and a young friend, Alexis Helmer, joined the 18 000 soldiers of the First Canadian Division in their positions near Ypres, Belgium. The Battle of Ypres commenced on 22 April and lasted for six hellish weeks. It was during this battle that the Germans launched the first gas attacks of the war.
John McCrae was the Canadian medical officer who penned the poignant poem “In Flanders Fields.”
For a long time, I did not know how to sort out the memories on November 11. As a student I wore a poppy, held silent in a school assembly, and watched the widows lay wreathes beneath the cenotaphs. I was always impressed by the lofty sentiments about sacrifice expressed in the speeches that day, but my mind struggled to make a connection with my own family: my grandfather who bared his scars and bellowed the words “Vimy Ridge!” as a threat, and my father, whose injuries from the second war sped him into alcoholism and an early death.
How does memory speak to us? Each November, over 13 million poppies blossom on the jackets, dresses and hats of Canadians. Everywhere we are moved by the sad words penned by the Canadian medical officer from Guelph, Ontario, John McCrae:
Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman’s new serial novel
Canadian literature has long had a thematic interest in the uncanny, the strange, the frightening, the unknown. From the magical and sometimes terrifying inhabitants of First Nations myths and legends, to the paranoiac claustrophobia imbuing early literature, identified by Northrop Frye as the “garrison mentality,” to the continued dread within contemporary literature of the myriad options for death and damage both Canadian wilderness and urban jungle afford, Canadian literary output can seem fixated on terror. And it’s certainly not the only artistic medium with such a focus – the Canadian film world has David Cronenberg, of course, and a new film festival called Blood in the Snow. (more…)
Pine coffins supplied to Snow & Co., Undertakers, second building from right, for victims of the Halifax Explosion. (photo: Nova Scotia Archives)
Nova Scotia is the perfect setting for scary stories. It’s somewhat remote, is foggy more days than not, and its residents love to tell a good tale. Its sea-faring culture has bred oral traditions that have cast the sea as a mighty provider and destroyer that gives and takes away. Unsurprisingly, the sea is at the center of many of Nova Scotia’s best ghost stories.
A still from the North American Halloween Prevention Initiative’s ”Do They Know It’s Halloween?”
In anticipation for Halloween, I have assembled the ultimate scary mixtape comprised of my favourite Canadian musicians. Get ready for a spooky musical tour of Canada’s finest!
1. Buck 65 – “Zombie Delight”
Buck 65 has been making music since the 1990’s. If you listen to the CBC then you should recognize him as Rich Terfry, the voice of CBC Radio 2 Drive. “Zombie Delight,” from his record 20 Odd Years, was just released early this year. The music video was filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, just outside of Buck 65′s hometown in Mt. Uniacke. This song offers an informative examination and deconstruction of the characteristics of a zombie. If you didn’t know that zombies are excellent dancers, then it’s best you have a listen to this.
Craigdorroch Castle, Victoria, circa 1890 (photo by Garrett Smith, courtesy BC Archives and Records/H-02479).
There’s a nightlife in beautiful, historic Victoria, B.C., far more exclusive than the hottest dance clubs. In fact, you and I aren’t even invited. This is a nightlife alive with the afterlife. If you want to get down with paranormal activity, Victoria is the hottest place in the west for the coldest spirits. I’ll be your tour guide. After all, hunting ghosts is my hobby
Marilyn Bell starting her swim, September 8, 1954 (courtesy Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame).
[Editor's Note: The Canadian Encyclopedia is proud to present its second free app, Toronto in Time, highlighting the stories of the city. “Marilyn Bell Swims Lake Ontario” is one of over 160 unique stories in the app, available for iOS and Android.]
Marilyn Bell waded into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario at Youngstown, NY, at 11:07 p.m. September 8, 1954. It wasn’t supposed to be a race, but she made it into one. The Canadian National Exhibition had offered $10,000 to American swimmer Florence Chadwick to swim the lake. Many thought it was unfair not to include Canadians in the event. Only two others took up the challenge, Winnie Roach Leuszla and 16-year old Marilyn Bell.
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Dave Keon was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1967 (courtesy Hockey Hall of Fame).
[Editor's Note: The Canadian Encyclopedia is proud to present its second free app, Toronto in Time, highlighting the stories of the city. “The Maple Leaf's Last Stanley Cup” is one of over 160 unique stories in the app, available for iOS and Android.]
No one expected the 1967 Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup and no one expected that it might never happen again! The Leafs themselves that year knew they were flawed. They were mostly old, erratic, tired and had a poisonous relationship with their coach and general manager “Punch” Imlach. They lost the first game of the playoffs against the highly favoured Chicago Black Hawks but then the magic began as the goaltending of 42-year old Johnny Bower and 37-year old Terry Sawchuk turned back a dispirited Hawks team.
The mysterious disappearance of the first keeper, J.P. Rademuller, in 1815 has given rise to the lighthouse’s reputation as a haunted building (photo by James Marsh).
[Editor's Note: The Canadian Encyclopedia is proud to present its second free app, Toronto in Time, highlighting the stories of the city. "Murdered Keeper Haunts Lighthouse" is one of over 160 unique stories in the app, available for iOS and Android.]
Legend has it that on the night of January 2, 1815, soldiers from Fort York went to the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse to buy beer smuggled from the US by the lighthouse keeper. But the keeper refused to sell, and the furious soldiers chopped him to pieces with an axe and buried the grisly bits to hide their crime. For two centuries, the keeper’s poor spirit has roamed the lighthouse.
There’s truth behind the tale. The lighthouse’s first keeper, J.P. Rademuller, mysteriously disappeared in 1815, and part of a human skeleton was later found nearby. But no soldiers were ever convicted, and the family that tended the lighthouse for 150 years declared as late as 1958 that they had never seen a ghost.
In this week’s Canadian news roundup, a beloved politician passes, a minute launches, and Lily of the Mohawks gets canonized in Rome. It’s Canada Soup!
Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black MP and former Ontario lieutenant governor, has died at the age of 90. The son of a hotel maid and a railway porter, Alexander overcame racism to become a lawyer, a politician and Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, a post he held from 1985 to 1991. In the video above, he calls himself the “Obama of Canada” and praises Canada as “the greatest country in the world, bar none.” Alexander is survived by his wife Marni, his son Keith and his extended family. [Globe & Mail]
The Heritage Minutes are back! Last night, the Historica-Dominion Institute premiered a new minute at Toronto’s Royal Cinema. The 60-second clip tells the story of Richard Pierpoint, a black Loyalist and hero during the War of 1812. The second Minute will be released to the public next year. It tells the story of Canada’s natives during the War of 1812. What do you think of the new minute?