Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Conflict From A Time Immemorial

Doug Sam had dodged the Gestapo when his plane was shot down during the war, assisted by the French Resistance and returning to active service. He would stay in the military following the war, retiring as a lieutenant-colonel in 1967. He is the most decorated Chinese-Canadian serviceman in the country's history.

Elsie MacGill, the Queen of the Hurricanes as she was known for her engineering work on the plane that did so much to win the war in the air over Europe, remained an engineer in aviation throughout her life, and a forceful voice for feminism.

One last photo from outside the exhibit space.

The walkway toward the permanent galleries is lined by photographs across Canadian military history.

The hub is the area that introduces the visitor to the story of Canadian military history. That story is organized into several galleries chronologically.

Warfare among First Nations tribes has existed for thousands of years. This first area starts to examine that.

A reproduction of an Iroquois village is placed here.

White men would start to make their presence known a thousand years ago, with the coming of the Vikings. Centuries later a more permanent presence would return, with the French and the English.

I leave off today with arrowheads and axe heads, some of the typical weapons of  First Nations peoples.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Legacies Of The Second World War

 Forever Changed finishes as an exhibit by looking at some of the personalities. The Second World War changed the country as a whole, with so much of the population invested in and affected by the war.

Michiko Ishii and her family were forced to relocate from their west coast home as part of the policy against Japanese Canadians during the war, suspicions of divided loyalties. Following the war she would become a historian.

Hubert Brooks was an airman who fell into German hands over Europe, escaped from a POW camp, and spent the rest of the war fighting alongside the Polish Resistance.

He would spend the rest of his life in the Canadian military, shaped by the war.

As part of the Royal Canadian Air Force Flyers team, he would win the gold medal in men's hockey at the 1948 Winter Olympics. This is his jersey.

Regina Rosenbaum survived the Holocaust and Auschwitz. She married Berek Gertner, another survivor of the Holocaust, settled in Canada, and their family became their legacy of survival.

The Campbell brothers, who died a month apart in combat against the Luftwaffe, are honoured by the name of a place: Campbell Bay, Saskatchewan.

Irene Courtenay served through the war as a nurse. She would continue in the field, becoming a professor.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Finding And Honouring Lost Airmen

 Following the end of the Second World War, the family of Will Kyle, whose flight disappeared somewhere over Burma on June 21st 1945, received a letter marking him as missing in action and presumed dead.

Decades later the mystery of that lost flight began to come to light when a hunter in what is now Myanmar found the wreckage of the plane deep in the jungle. Several years later that was brought forward to Canadian authorities.

Some of the remnants recovered from the wreckage: a lens, what's left of a fork and cup, a fishing lure, and a mess tin.

These are the other members of that flight.

And some of the wreckage of that plane is preserved here, encased in the walls and floor of the exhibit. The small pieces of wreckage testify to the violence of the crash and half a century in a jungle environment.

The remains of the crew were recovered and interred at a Commonwealth war cemetery in Myanmar. Video footage of the recovery and the ceremony is played, and a ceremonial flag is draped as part of the exhibit. The combination is poignant. Brothers in arms, found at last.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Privation In The Hands Of The Enemy

 Canadian civilians were among those interred by the Japanese as they seized territories early in the Pacific theatre portion of the war. Hermena Oppen and her husband Reg were among them, taken in the fall of Hong Kong.

Ethel Mulvany was another, imprisoned after the fall of Singapore.

Two personal items are displayed from her: a culinary memoir and her personal bible.

Gordon Hercus had a memorable end to the war, part of a flight that carried peace papers to a Japanese general in Singapore who refused to believe the war was over.