Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cold War And Conflict

While the Cold War carried on across the globe, the concept of troops for peacekeeping was developed as well. Later to become Prime Minister, Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in resolving the Suez Crisis as foreign minister at the time and proposing international soldiers as peacekeepers. Canadians have served in that capacity in multiple missions, and some of them, such as Cyprus, are examined in this area of the War Museum.

The Cold War was also an era of espionage between both sides, and that was true in Canada. A display case contains a pen gun, a last resort weapon for a spy, as well as a pistol that belonged to Michael Gregovitch, a Yugoslavian agent who defected and worked for MI-5 before immigrating to Canada in 1957.

Canada wisely stayed out of the Vietnam War. Yet it was certainly touched by the conflict. Protest marches against the war were held here, and other protests at events like Expo '67 in the case of the American pavilion, a moment that occupies the centre of these panels. Many young Americans, seeking to avoid the draft for many reasons, came north into Canada. Some stayed until amnesties for draft dodgers were issued. Others stayed permanently, settled down, raised families, and became Canadian citizens. Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the South Vietnamese girl whose image haunted the world (the shot itself is seen at the upper right) in a Pulitzer prize winning photograph taken after a napalm attack, ended up becoming a Canadian citizen.

Two very different uniforms stand here- the protective padding for an explosives operator and one of the standard Army uniform options for a woman. 

Aside from regular forces, the military has reserve units, and the C2 105mm Howitzer is standard equipment for such units. This particular Howitzer was retired from active use in the Canadian Forces in 1998 and now resides here.

Nearby is this Warsaw Pact tank. Note the photographs in the background- I'll show them tomorrow.

The dramatic events of the fall of 1989 brought an end to the Cold War. One of the legacies of that ending stands here, a section of the Berlin War. The Canadian government hosted a summit of foreign ministers in the aftermath of those months to shape the way forward for the two Germanys to reunite. This portion of the Wall was given to Canada as thanks, and resides here. Graffiti is on the side that faced West Berlin. There's enough room at the back to see the other side- completely blank of graffiti. Had you tried to approach that side in the bad old days of the Cold War, you'd have been cut down by gunfire.

The Canadian military took part in the international coalition that made up Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-91 in the Middle East, mostly in terms of air and naval assets. This sign was originally at their base of operations in Qatar, noting the distance to home towns of some of those who were serving there.

The fallout of the Cold War left Yugoslavia in particular upheaval as civil war broke out in the former republic during the 1990s. Canadian forces served as peacekeepers, but too often found themselves trading shots in the Balkans. Panels and artifacts of the time are found here. This display features a 1984 Olympic torch, a gift from a local family to a Canadian officer for his help. Major John Russell smuggled 298 people out of Sarajevo and out of harm's way in his capacity as military assistant to the UN. 

The Canadian military went to war in Afghanistan from 2001-2014, engaging the Taliban and other insurgents throughout the deployment. The Museum covers that era in detail, and I leave off today with these panels.


  1. Strange and a little scary how countries behave!

  2. Oh, I didn´t know Canada helping "us", too, or that a piece of the wall is in your place. Interesting.
    Just sad that the wall still exists in so many ways here...

  3. My childhood was dominated by the Vietnam War. As I entered into adulthood the big concern was whether "boyfriends" birthdays would be in the call-up. It's no wonder young men wanted to dodge the draft.

  4. There are still a lot of memorials in Warsaw and Berlin. Even the cold war must have been awful for them. Today you see pieces of the wall, just to remember. I was impressed how beautiful Warsaw had been restored !

  5. unending story with conflicts. some are more covered by media, some less, but they never end. :(

  6. ...manlike has had so many good intended, but misguided adventures when it comes to war.

  7. How exciting to have part of the Berlin Wall. Nothing says cold war and espionage like the Berlin Wall.


  8. You have published a very interesting series of post. We visited Normandy last year and it was so touching...

  9. @Lady Fi: quite true.

    @Iris: the conference at the time was held in the Government Conference Centre downtown. The Wall section stood in there for some time before being moved here.

    @Joan: in Ken Burns' documentary on the war, there's a Canadian sportswriter named Jack Todd who was interviewed. He grew up in America, was coming up for the draft, decided he wanted nothing to do with that war, and went to Canada. He ended up writing for the Gazette in Montreal, and becoming a Canadian citizen.

    @Gattina: I think it's appropriate for sections of the Wall to remain where they were.

    @Klara: quite true.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Tom: that is true.

    @Janis: I quite agree.

    @Italiafinlandia: I'd like to see Normandy someday.

  10. I didn't know that the young Vietnamese girl became a Canadian citizen. Very interesting post. Thank you for all the interesting information.

  11. Hello William!
    Great post. I remember as a child the war in the Vietnam and the awful war in the Balkans and the bombing in Belgrade from the NATO.
    Very impressive having a part of the Berlin Wall. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy your day!

  12. i had a friend who did visit the Berlin Wall ...even got a piece. i would love to travel overseas, maybe one day. ( ;

  13. Pearson was a great foreign minister for sure!

    We are only beginning to see the effect of the war in Afghanistan on our people.

  14. I'm reminded of a visit I made some years ago to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. I have no idea when it was but I remember being there.

  15. I grew up during the cold war. It was a very scary and tense situation. We worried that war could break out at any time. As little kids at school we were told how to get under our desk if there was an atom bomb dropped.

  16. @DJan: yes, I think the first time I heard of her citizenship was several years ago.

    @Dimi: it's quite appropriate that this part of the Wall is in this museum.

    @Beth: I'd love to see Berlin someday.

    @Marie: he was one of our best PMs.

    @Sharon: I'd enjoy visiting that.

    @Red: my memories of the Cold War are of its final years.

  17. Interesting series, William, many things I didn't know...

  18. You provide us with so many interesting posts, always accompanied by very nice photographs.
    Many thanks for all the interesting information you give to your reader to, it is appreciated.

    All the best Jan

  19. I know a lot of people who came here as draft dodgers during the Vietnam War.

  20. So much history, I learned some new things. Thanks, William!

  21. Another very interesting post and lots of history. Thanks William!

  22. @Karl: there is a lot to this museum.

    @Jan: thank you.

    @RedPat: I remember a teacher who was attending college down there at the time- as a Canadian he wasn't subject to the draft, but saw lots of guys disappear when the draft calls went out.

    @Bill: you're welcome.

    @Denise: a pleasure to do so.

  23. One could spend days exploring this museum. It covers so much!

  24. I didn't know Phan Thi Kim Phuc became a Canadian. I know this prize winning photograph once was forbidden by Facebook. That's one of the reaseons I.m still not on Facebook.

  25. We celebrated 100th anniversary of independance in November this year , but we also say, that Poland became free in 1989 after the fall of communism.

  26. I meant to tell you, my daughter and grandies went to the bunker for her work team buildings thing. They did a locked room mystery, which they love. The bunker just gives me the woolies, though!