1816: The Year Without Summer

Historic PoW site in Ontario to get new lease on life

By NOOR JAVED News reporter ~ https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/07/16/historic-pow-site-in-ontario-to-get-new-lease-on-life.html

Sat., July 16, 2016


PoW camp savedThe derelict buildings of historic Camp 30, believed to be Canada’s only remaining prisoner of war camp from the Second World War, which were once feared unsalvageable, have emerged victorious against the test of time.

Earlier this month, the Town of Clarington announced it has approved a deal with developer Kaitlin Developments and Fandor Homes to acquire five hectares of the Camp 30 lands and some of the “historically significant” buildings on the property.

“This is a slice of history right in our backyard,” said Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster, in a press release. “Council would like to restore and rehabilitate the buildings which are historical landmarks in our community.”

Camp 30 was the only site used by the Allies to house captured, high-ranking Nazi officers. It is the only known intact camp for German prisoners of war left in the world.

Saving the property has long been a labour of love for local advocates and history buffs, who feared that after years of vandalism and neglect, the buildings were destined for the wrecking ball. Over time, windows have shattered, graffiti has covered the walls and the buildings, once considered architecturally unique, have started to crumble. Despite the site’s remarkable history, its future was always uncertain, said Corinna Traill, Clarington Ward 3 councillor.

“I grew up with Camp 30, knowing that we had this great historical site and basically seeing it go to ruin,” said Traill. “This is really a case that if the town hadn’t stepped in, this site would have been reduced to rubble.”

In the 1920s, 18 buildings were built on 40 hectares of rural land about 45 minutes east of Toronto, initially serving as a training school for “troubled” boys. But during the Second World War, the site was converted into a PoW camp to house high-ranking members of the Third Reich.

Among its most famous inhabitants were Otto Kretschmer, a skilled German U-boat commander, who was involved in a daring but ultimately unsuccessful escape attempt that was supposed to see him and three others tunnel their way to the east coast. The operation was foiled by guards and the carefully built tunnels were collapsed.

But the site’s layered history has been lost on many outside of Bowmanville.

Once the previous owners moved out in 2008, local residents and politicians started “to advocate for the site at every opportunity,” said Marilyn Morawetz, chair of the Jury Lands Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the conservation of historic lands and the creation of a long-term plan to preserve this property.

It was only in 2013, when the federal government designated Camp 30 a National Historic Site and it made it onto Heritage Canada’s Top 10 list of endangered sites, that it was nationally recognized. But until the property was in private hands, there was little the town or the foundation could do in terms of drumming up funds, said Devon Daniell, director of business development for developer Kaitlin Corporation.

When Katilin Corp. bought the land, they didn’t know its significance, he said. But over the last few years, they have been working with the town and foundation to find a way to preserve the buildings and the history, he said. That included talking to the developers of Toronto’s Distillery District in Toronto for inspiration and ideas.

The transfer of land is expected later this year. Before then, the developer will demolish the buildings that have not been identified for historic preservation. The town will be responsible for five of the original buildings, while the developer plans to convert one into a clubhouse to serve a future community.

The developer will also clean up the area, including removing the graffiti which is proving to be a difficult task, said Daniell.

“Despite our best efforts to preserve the site, you can’t stop these people who are motivated to damage it,” he said, adding that vandals have been relentless, spray painting over security cameras, knocking down fences and masonry walls with ATVs, he said.

Once the clean up takes place, the developer is to make a $500,000 donation to the town to assist with maintenance, he said.

The developer has plans for a housing development on some portions of the land. The five-hectare parcel is part of the developer’s mandatory parkland contribution to the town.

Town officials say while this deal is the first and most important step in securing this piece of Canadian history, the entire country should take ownership of the project.

“Redevelopment of these historical buildings cannot be on the backs of local taxpayers,” said Faye Langmaid, manager of special projects with the town. “This is a national project, with a national scope.”


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Interesting Toronto… Oldest neighbourhood

What is the oldest neighbourhood in Toronto?

Posted by Chris Bateman / AUGUST 1, 2015

BLOGTO: http://www.blogto.com/city/2015/08/what_is_the_oldest_neighbourhood_in_toronto/

 oldest neighbourhood torontoIn 1793, the little frontier town of York consisted of just 10 blocks: two rows of five stacked on top of each other between present day George, Front, Adelaide, and Berkeley streets. The entire city of Toronto grew from this tiny waterfront nucleus.

The original city is now firmly within the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. King St. east of Jarvis cuts right through the centre of the more than 200-year-old community.

toronto oldest neighbourhoodIn 1797, plans were made to extend the city to the north and west. Peter Russell, an administrator who succeeded town founder John Graves Simcoe, mapped out new roads west to Peter St. and north to Queen St. The extension included space for a market, court house, church and jail.

As historian Wendy Smith notes, the westward push was limited by an “ordnance boundary” located 1,000 feet east of Fort York. The canons that were meant to protect York from invasion needed a clear line of sight and so, at the time, nothing could be built closer to the military base.

Smith’s website, the Toronto Park Lot Project, maps the early boundaries of Toronto.

toronto oldest neighbourhoodThe allowance for a market spawned today’s St. Lawrence Market (the original allocation is currently occupied by St. Lawrence Hall) and the church block is now home to St. James Cathedral. The city’s first coffee shop was also located in the area, as was the first Upper Canada parliament buildings at Front and Berkeley.

The jail was built, too. It opened in 1798 with a small outdoor area for public executions. According to a plaque fixed to the outside of the King Edward Hotel, which now occupies the site, the first person hanged there was John Sullivan. He was convicted of stealing a forged bank note worth a dollar.

As the city grew, the original town blocks became part of the St. Lawrence Ward. The earliest community divisions were mostly named for the patron saints of the countries of the British Isles: St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick, and St. David.

St. Lawrence of Rome became associated with Canada when French explorer Jaques Cartier named the continent’s great eastern waterway after him in 1535.

The oldest buildings in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood date back to the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. On Front St., many of the historic former warehouses and factories turned storefronts were built in the 1870s and later, more than eight decades after the neighbourhood was established.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Toronto Archives, Peter Russell map, Toronto Public Library, Ms1889.1.3.; Elizabeth Frances Hale watercolour, Library and Archives Canada, 1970-188-2092

Thornton Blackburn, Toronto’s first ‘cabbie’

The fascinating story of Toronto’s first cab company

Posted by Chris Bateman (http://www.blogto.com/city)

thornton blackburn toronto cab W.H. Coverdale

No Toronto history series would be complete without the astounding story of Thornton Blackburn, an escaped slave who made his way from Kentucky to Toronto via the Underground Railroad, helped settle others fleeing captivity, and established this city’s first horse-drawn cab company.

Blackburn’s unlikely story includes daring escapes from captivity, one of which sparked a riot in Detroit, tireless anti-slavery work, the construction of a city landmark and the establishment in Toronto of a service that’s become ubiquitous today.

In Louisville, Kentucky, in the early 1800s Thornton and his wife Lucie were owned and used in forced labour at the height of American slavery. Thornton’s mother, Sibby, was also a slave. Little is known about the Thornton and Lucie’s early life, and there are no known pictures of either.

What we do know is the pair escaped their owners around 1830 and headed north on a steamboat up the Mississippi, switching to a stagecoach to reach Detroit, Michigan, where they lived an uneasy two years as fugitives. The pair were located by slave hunters and jailed in the city while their return to the south could be arranged. Although Michigan was a free state, racial segregation still existed and it seems authorities were still willing to incarcerate those who escaped captivity.

mississippi steamer thornton blackburnWhile the couple were jailed, Thornton was bound, shackled, and isolated, but Lucie was allowed visitors, one of whom was Mrs. George French, a woman sympathetic to the Blackburn’s plight. During her visit, French bravely managed to swap clothes and places with Lucie and allow the wanted woman to simply walk out of jail and cross the Detroit River to Essex County in Upper Canada. Freeing Thornton would prove much more difficult, however.

The day before he was due to be returned to Kentucky, an angry crowd stormed the jail, overpowered the guards, and managed to release Blackburn. Two people, Sleepy Polly and Daddy Walker, integral to the escape plan, helped transport Thornton to Essex County to be reunited with his wife. In his wake, Thornton left a two-day race riot, the earliest of its kind in Detroit, that would lead to the first riot commission established in the US.

Settling in Toronto, Thornton Blackburn, though illiterate, found work as a waiter at Osgoode Hall while authorities in Michigan twice unsuccessfully applied for the Blackburn and his wife to be deported. It was while he worked that he became aware of the city’s lack of a cab company, a concept already established and profitable in Montreal.

toronto thornton blackburn cab cityWorking with plans for a horse-drawn cab from Quebec, like the one shown above, Thornton commissioned the construction of the first wooden four-seater taxi and founded the company to run it, which he named “The City.” The venture was successful and laid the groundwork for several other rival companies in Toronto.

The City’s first cab was painted bright yellow and red and is captured in John Gillespie’s oil painting of King Street, shown above. The Blackburns grew the cab company and kept a small stable for the working horses at their home at modern day Sackville Street and Eastern Avenue. Though busy with his work, Thornton successfully returned to Kentucky in secret some time in late 1830s to rescue his mother, Sibby, from slavery. Thornton’s brother, Alfred, also joined the family in Toronto.

An tireless advocate for the abolition of slavery, Thornton Blackburn helped build Little Trinity Anglican Church, attended the North American Convention of Colored Freemen at St. Lawrence Hall in September 1851, helped settle escaped slaves in Toronto and Buxton, Ontario and was a friend of fellow anti-slavery campaigner George Brown.

Thornton lived out the remainder of his life in Toronto and is buried in Necropolis Cemetery with his wife; his life and contribution to the abolition of slavery is commemorated by two historical markers, both at the former site of the couple’s home. Recently, the site, now Inglenook Community High School, was excavated and revealed portions of the house, shed and cellar. The Department of Canadian Heritage recognizes Thornton and Lucie Blackburn as Persons of National Historic Significance.

The venerable St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Food and history intersect in an enduring way at Jarvis and Front Sts.

That’s where you’ll find Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market. The venerable red-brick building South Market, built in 1904, still draws droves of Torontonians Tuesday through Saturday looking to plunder the aromatic treasures of dozens of vendors — breads, cheeses, meat, veggies, fruit, fish, jarred delicacies and rare food finds, as well as non-edible merchandise from artisans and retailers.

What they may not know is that incorporated into the 1904 structure is a good portion of Toronto’s first permanent City Hall (sans roof), that dates back to 1844. At the front of the building, facing the street you can see the original City Hall’s stone and brick entrance. The second floor original council chambers have been turned into the Market Gallery, with art exhibition space.

Today, the St. Lawrence Market consists of the main South Market (Jarvis St., south of Front St.,), the North Market (Jarvis St., north of Front St., and temporarily closed for redevelopment) and St. Lawrence Hall (King St. E. and Jarvis Sts.). The North Market has hosted a Saturday Farmer’s Market at Front St. and Jarvis since 1803, when Toronto was known as York.

Toronto's second city hall was built by Henry Lane in 1844-45, and is shown here in 1890. A close look at the Front St. facade of today's market reveals the two arched entrances and the eight second- and third-storey windows where the city's Market Gallery is located.


Toronto’s second city hall was built by Henry Lane in 1844-45, and is shown here in 1890. A close look at the Front St. facade of today’s market reveals the two arched entrances and the eight second- and third-storey windows where the city’s Market Gallery is located.

That was the year the lieutenant governor of the province of Upper Canada, Peter Hunter, proclaimed the land north of Front St., south of King St., west of Jarvis St., and east of Church St., would be called the Market Block. Of course, it wasn’t just market business that went on. There were also public floggings and a stock and pillory to punish all sorts of shenanigans.

You didn’t want to be a nuisance, like York resident Elizabeth Ellis. In 1804 Ellis had to stand in the pillory in the Market Block on two days a week for two hours at a time over a six-month period because she was deemed a nuisance, according to Robertson’sLandmarks of Toronto Revisited (a book first published in 1894 and viewable online.

Photographer Josiah Bruce aimed his camera northwest in June 1894. St. James Cathedral dominated his view. Just before the church is St. Lawrence Market.


Photographer Josiah Bruce aimed his camera northwest in June 1894. St. James Cathedral dominated his view. Just before the church is St. Lawrence Market.

“Back then you could still be hanged for speaking your mind,” says Toronto historian Bruce Bell, who has been running tours of the St. Lawrence Market for years. “We were still under British rule and you had to be careful what you said.”

By 1831, a brick market structure ran from King. St. to Front St. In 1834, when the City of Toronto incorporated, municipal offices were temporarily located in part of the market building, at the southwest corner of King St. E., and Jarvis St.

The Great Fire of Toronto in 1849 destroying much of the city, damaging the North Market building, but sparing the City Hall building.

The North Market was rebuilt in 1850 and continued to host a Saturday farmers’ market. The building south of Front had rear market stalls for fruit, vegetables and poultry but its main use was as a City Hall and a police station, with jail cells in the basement. The prisoners apparently complained about flooding in their cells and were eventually moved to the Don Jail.

St. Lawrence Hall, named after Toronto's patron saint, became an important social hub, hosting concerts, exhibitions, lectures and public meetings in its 1,000-seat assembly room. The date of this photo is unknown.


St. Lawrence Hall, named after Toronto’s patron saint, became an important social hub, hosting concerts, exhibitions, lectures and public meetings in its 1,000-seat assembly room. The date of this photo is unknown.

The 1850 rebuild following the fire included St. Lawrence Hall (named after Canada’s patron saint). It was a magnificent Renaissance Revival cultural centre and meeting place designed by William Thomas and became an important social hub for the city, hosting concerts, exhibitions, lectures and public meetings in the 1,000-seat assembly room.

“Anyone who was anyone at the time appeared there,” says Bell.

Jenny Lind — one of the most popular opera singers in the world — played to a packed house at St. Lawrence Hall on Oct. 21, 1851, part of a North American tour. The “Swedish Nightingale” gave $1,000 from her performance fee to the Protestant Orphans Home on Dovercourt Rd. Dwarf entertainer General Tom Thumb performed at the hall 10 years later. The great American orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who had himself escaped slavery, spoke against its evils at in 1851.

The North American Convention of Colored Freemen met on site for three days in 1851 to “discuss issues of slavery and black emigration from the United States.” The convention confirmed Canada as the best destination for refugee slaves.

A less than inviting skyline loomed east from King and Toronto streets when this picture was taken on a dreary January day in 1930. Other than the spire of St. James Cathedral, and the dome on St Lawrence Hall the view seemed primarily industrial.


A less than inviting skyline loomed east from King and Toronto streets when this picture was taken on a dreary January day in 1930. Other than the spire of St. James Cathedral, and the dome on St Lawrence Hall the view seemed primarily industrial.

Sir John A. Macdonald also promoted Confederation at St. Lawrence Hall on numerous occasions, the last being Jan. 22, 1867, just months before he became our first prime minister.

But St. Lawrence Hall’s golden days had fizzled by the latter part of the 1800s. By 1895 Massey Hall had been built and it quickly became the concert and cultural hotspot.

The Hall was refurbished from 1966-1967 to mark Canada’s centenary and was also designated as a National Historic Site. Today, it has commercial and office tenants and space that can be rented for special events.

The North Market has been rebuilt a number of times. It is currently closed during redevelopment. (The Saturday Farmers’ Market and Sunday Antique Market continues at a temporary location at 125 The Esplanade.)

Various renovations and structural changes were made to the South Market during the later 1800s. The city’s municipal government left the building in 1899 for the new City Hall at Bay and Queen Sts. (what we now call Old City Hall). Vendors took over the entire ground floor of the old South Market building after it was re-engineered in 1904 (incorporating the old city hall).

By the 1960s the South Market was looking shabby, and in 1971, when this photo was taken, a planning board report and consultant recommended that the building be demolished. But citizen groups fought back and persuaded the city to renovate.

By the 1960s the South Market was looking shabby, and in 1971, when this photo was taken, a planning board report and consultant recommended that the building be demolished. But citizen groups fought back and persuaded the city to renovate.

By the 1960s, however, the South Market was looking a bit shabby. It would barely escape the wrecker’s ball the next decade. In 1971 a planning board report and consultant recommended to the city that the South Market be demolished. But adamant citizen groups fought back and persuaded the city to renovate.

By 1978, renovations had been completed on the South Market, including a revamp of the basement, which now serves as space for more vendors. In total, there’s more than 100,000 square feet of space in the building.

A vendor sells eggs in St. Lawrence Market in 1974. The red-brick building South Market, built in 1904, still draws droves of Torontonians Tuesday through Saturday looking to plunder the aromatic treasures of dozens of vendors.


A vendor sells eggs in St. Lawrence Market in 1974. The red-brick building South Market, built in 1904, still draws droves of Torontonians Tuesday through Saturday looking to plunder the aromatic treasures of dozens of vendors.

One wall of the original jail remains in the basement, says historian Bell, who is thankful the South Market and St. Lawrence Hall didn’t become prey to the “urban knockdown in the 1950s and 1960s” when “25,000 historical buildings” in the city were torn down.

Today, the St. Lawrence Market remains a huge draw for Torontonians, as well as tourists, a piece of history that remains vibrant and at the heart of the city.

Available on Amazon in both Print and Kindle formats. Why not give one as a gift?
Available on Amazon in both Print and Kindle formats. Why not give one as a gift?

Frederick Grant Banting (Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Doctor, Sir)

Library and Archives of Canada

Frederick Grant Banting (1891–1941), medical scientist, doctor, and Nobel Laureate, is one of the most distinguished scientists of Canada. Banting was a medical student at the University of Toronto when he volunteered for the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) on September 8, 1915. His studies were fast-tracked to meet the need for more doctors in the Army. He reported for duty with the CAMC in December 1916, just one day after he graduated. He served in military hospitals in England and, in 1918, was wounded in his right arm by a shell at the Battle of Cambrai, in northern France. Despite his injury, he continued to tend to casualties for another 16 hours and was later awarded the Military Cross for his actions.

After the war, Banting returned to the University of Toronto to complete his surgical training. Banting’s research into diabetes, with colleague J.J.R. Macleod and medical student Charles H. Best, led to the discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetic patients. He and Macleod were Service Recordjointly awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research. Then only 32 years of age, Banting remains the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in the area of physiology and medicine. His career included research into silicosis, cancer, the mechanisms of drowning, and physiological problems suffered at high altitudes. King George V knighted him in 1934. During a trip to England on February 21, 1941, Frederick G. Banting died when the plane crashed in Newfoundland.

Service Record Details

Date of Birth: November 14, 1891 (Alliston, Ontario)

Date of Attestation: September 8, 1915 (Niagara Camp), May 4, 1915 (Toronto), December 10, 1916 (Ex Camp,

Attestation Paper 1Toronto).

Age at Enlistment: 25 years old

Prior Military Service: “Two years with the 36th Peel.” Eight months with the Canadian Army Medical Corps 2nd Field Ambulance.

Height: 5 feet, 11 inches

Weight: 175 lbs

Description: Fair complexion, blue eyes, light brown hair. Methodist, Presbyterian.

Home Address: Alliston, Ontario

Trade: Medical Student, Physician

Married: No

Next of Kin: Father, William Thompson Banting. Mother, Mrs. William Thompson Banting.

Theatre of War: Canada, England, France

Casualties/Medical History
  • September 28, 1918 – Banting experiences a gunshot wound to the right forearm at the Battle of Cambrai. AAttestation Paper 2stamp on his file indicates that he is given an “anti-tetanus inoculation” upon admission to hospital.
  • October 1, 1918 – He is transferred from Ville de Lieges, Belgium to Shorncliffe, England.
  • Banting spends a total of 20 days in hospital because of his wound. The larger bone in his right forearm is slightly damaged and fragments of bullet are removed in surgery. He has a scar and some loss of movement in the little finger of his affected hand.
Interesting Details from the Service Record
  • Banting enlists as a medical student, returns to medical school, graduates, and re-enlists. He is at the rank of Staff Sergeant Nursing when granted leave to return to his medical studies. Upon graduation, he rejoins as an officer, with the rank of Lieutenant. He serves in Canada and England, where he is made Captain, eventually joining the Field Ambulances in France.
  • June 29, 1918 – Upon his arrival in France, Banting is taken on strength (TOS) with the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital. He is TOS with the 13th Canadian Field Ambulance on July 14th and with the 5th Canadian Field Ambulance on August 18th.
  • In 1918, he is granted leave for Christmas and awarded the Military Cross on December 31st.
  • A letter from Lieutenant Colonel Richardson, one of his commanding officers, dated September 2, 1919, is contained in his service file. It states that Banting served with the Stationary Hospital in Niagara-on-the-Lake from May 4 to October 14, 1915. He was granted two periods of leave, each lasting for six months, to attend and complete medical school at “Toronto University.”

The London Gazette

Supplement to The London Gazette, July 30, 1919, Page 9789
“Capt., Frederick Grant Banting, 13th Fld. Amb., Can. A.M.C.
Near Haynecourt on September 28, 1918, when the medical officer of the 46th Canadian battalion was wounded, he immediately proceeded forward through intense shell fire to reach the battalion. Several of his men were wounded and he, neglecting his own safety, stopped to attend to them. While doing this he was wounded himself and was sent out notwithstanding his plea to be left at the front. His energy and pluck were of a very high order.”

Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1969)

Census Records

1901 Census Census Record 1901

  • At age 9, Frederick G. Banting is living in Simcoe South, Sub-District of Essa, in Ontario. His father is William Banting (52), a farmer, of Irish descent, and his mother, Margaret (46), is also Irish. Their religion is listed as Methodist. They have five children, Nelson A. (19), William T. (18), Alexander (17), Ester (13), and Frederick (9).

1911 Census

  • At age 19, Frederick G. Banting still resides at home with both of his parents, his sister Ester, and his brotherCensus Record 1911Alexander (who now calls himself Kenneth). The older boys have moved out. Nelson is married to a woman named Margaret (24). His brother William (who now calls himself Thompson) is married to a woman named Lena (22) and they have a two-month-old daughter named Helen.

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Canada’s forgotten Cold Warriors

Paul Manson – Globe and Mail

Canadian soldiers take part in a NATO exercise in West Germany in 1989.
Canadian soldiers take part in a NATO exercise in West Germany in 1989.

The federal election campaign, coupled with recent compelling reporting in The Globe and Mail about Canada’s military veterans, has stimulated welcome – and much needed – discussion about our veterans and the ways in which they are treated.

But references in two recent and otherwise thoughtful articles follow a disturbing pattern. One article, which included tallies from Veterans Affairs Canada, referred to “685,300 Canadian veterans: 75,900 from the Second World War, 9,100 from the Korean War and 600,300 from subsequent peacekeeping missions and conflicts, including at least 40,000 younger Afghanistan war vets.” Another opinion article took up the same theme, referring to Canadian casualties in the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan and “numerous United Nations peacekeeping assignments.”

Stunningly absent from both accounts is even the slightest mention of what was by far Canada’s most important military activity since 1945: Our contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in the Cold War, from 1950 to 1990. It was a massive commitment. Several hundred thousand Canadian military members served in the vital cause of deterring Soviet aggression, thereby joining Canada’s allies in preventing the outbreak of a third world war and the nuclear holocaust that would have ensued.

And our Canadian soldiers, sailors and air officers were good. At one point, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, an American, told me, “You Canadians set the standard in NATO.” We were well trained, well equipped and superbly motivated. In spite of unique organizational challenges, we earned great respect from our allies. Our small but powerful mechanized brigade in West Germany was an elite force, given the toughest assignments. Our air force, both in NORAD and in Europe, won numerous competitions, especially with the Canadian-built and powered F-86 Sabre, considered the world’s best fighter in the 1950s. At sea, our navy showed that it was a quality force. On several occasions, a Canadian was chosen to command NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic.

Canada and Canadians paid a heavy price for all this. To put it concisely, our Cold War operations resulted in more fatalities due to military service than in the Korean War, the Balkan conflicts, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and peacekeeping – combined. For aircrew deaths alone, the number was 926.

Why has this been forgotten, to the extent that Cold War veterans apparently don’t seem to deserve even a passing mention these days?

Some possible reasons come to mind. Much of this happened a relatively long time ago, much of it far from home – in the north, at sea, in Europe. And news media coverage was much less intensive in the days before real-time TV reporting and embedded journalists. For example, whenever a Canadian airman was killed in Europe (as more than 100 were), he was invariably buried in a small military cemetery in Choloy-Ménillot, France; no ramp ceremony, no funerary procession along the Highway of Heroes, no headlines.

Then there is the mythology that has arisen to the effect that peacekeeping has been the principal occupation of Canada’s military since the Second World War. Our Blue Beret peacekeepers did wonderful work back when there were real opportunities for keeping conflicting armies apart, but the reason they were so effective is that they had the skills and credibility that come from having been trained for modern heavy warfare.

Another explanation for the public silence regarding Canada’s NATO and NORAD veterans is that there has emerged a troubling tendency on the part of some in this country to look upon those who did not fight in a shooting war as second-class veterans.

My entire career was encompassed by the Cold War years, including 10 years with my family in France and Germany. The Cold War, however, was not a shooting war. I have told Canadians on many occasions that my greatest pride in having served is that, from the end of the Korean War until I retired 37 years later, not a single shot was fired in combat by the Canadian military.

Our job was deterrence, and deterrence worked. We trained for war so that we wouldn’t have to fight a war.

It’s a shame that the story has been largely forgotten. On this Remembrance Day, my earnest hope is that Canadians, when they pause to commemorate the many sacrifices that our veterans have made through the years, will give a moment to those whose service as Cold Warriors, although unheralded, really made a difference. Lest we forget.