Tonight's blog is taking longer than expected, and so will not run till tomorrow night. Sorry folks!
There are hundreds of Canadian first's listed in the 1936 book... "First Things in Acadia." But I don't think there are any Lasts" That's a Shame!
You can read to your heart's content about the first ever print press in Canada, the first post office and the first Canadian to die in the Boer War. Plow through the stories about the world's first coloured Victoria Cross recipient, our first lighthouse and the first divorce ever. He got off but she was forbidden from again getting married before he died, and had to leave Nova Scotia within ten days. There are hundreds of great tidbits. but there is nothing about George being... not the first... bit the LAST one.
Starting at the beginning, he was of course born ... in Nova Scotia in the small community of only a few thousand called Falmouth near Windsor. He got basic education, became a labourer, farmer, lumberman and handyman of sorts, but soon sought more opportunity and headed out west in 1916, and about 24 years of age. At Moose Jaw Saskatchewan he had hopes of working to help bring in the harvest and go from there.
Apparently he worked for a while for the CPR but then got a farming job. But that led to troubles. The farm owner was a widow and at one point owed him salary that she couldn't pay. So he decided to help himself... to the tune of about $25 worth of her possessions including some bedding. He was charged and the court's were not impressed with him. He was sentenced to one month of hard labour.
And when that was over he found himself conscripted into the Canadian army.
George would move through a few units before getting to his final unit of choice..the 28th Brigade, Canadian Expeditionary Forces.
He enlisted at first with the 1st Saskatchewan Depot Battalion, 4 Dec. 1917, left St John's aboard the HM Soctian 21 Jan. 1918, arrived at Liverpool 6 Feb. 1918 and by May was in France. By June he finally arrived with the 28th, as possibly shown above. While in France he was gassed and spent a month between a Casualty Aid Station and a general hospital before returning to his regiment.
It would be on 11 November 1918 that the Armistice to end the war was signed at about 5 am. It would take hours to get the message out to all concerned. Some may have never gotten it. So claimed some in the 28th.
Their job that day was to sweep the area between Frameries at the bottom left and Ville-sur-Haine to ensure all bridges were secured along a canal. This area is about 60 Km south West of Brussels as you can see in above map.
The objectives of the 28th were reached, but upon getting to Ville-Sur-Haine the troops found themselves along side another canal with open fields on their side, and several houses across the canal, just a stone's throw away.
Some say a patrol of four men were looking for better protection for the regiment within the homes across the canal. Others say one of the men saw movement in the area. He then asked three others if they would go with him on a patrol because German Machine Gun nests were known to be operating in the area.
The four, without official approval, took off across a bridge and then started to take enemy fire, saw Germans heading into one of the houses and they gave chase. They kicked down the door but the enemy was then escaping out the back. Entering the second house, they again found Germans fleeing out the back.
George , stepped out the front door, a bang was heard and he dropped into the arms of a mate. He was shot dead by a sniper off some distance and up an incline.
It was three minutes to eleven and the time that the Armistice ending the war was to begin. Within a minute he was dead.
George Lawrence Price that moment became Canada's, and the British Commonwealth's last soldier to die in the Great War.
Later that day a few miles to the West at Mons, the street was filled with civilians and Canadian Troops celebrating the end of the war. George's ended hours earlier!
George was buried at the old Havre communal cemetery at first but in 1948 his remains were moved to the Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery at Mons and given the new marker shown below. . The old marker is now at the Museum in Mons.
At the Peace Tower in Ottawa there are held 7 different Books of Remembrance listing the names of over 118,000 service members who have lost their lives in the service of Canada in the two World Wars, Korea, South Africa War, Merchant Navy, one for Newfoundland and yet another in the works for the War of 1812. Below is the Great War's book opened to page 487.
It lists George Price in the right hand column at the first break. At the left side one soldier at the top and bottom come from the 75th Overseas Expeditionary Force, a unit that after WW l became known as the Toronto Scottish and of which I am a former member. I shall make several more comments about George, and the 75th in the next blog, as this one is getting long.
But I would like to point out on each on these Remembrance pages it shows a date when that page will be on display in Ottawa. Check out your relative and plan a trip around visiting this incredible artifact.
Also note that if you scroll down the page enough it lists all the names from the scroll and by clicking on these you can get some further info and possibly even the link directly to their WW1 attestation papers.
See you next week with more on George and the 75th and a wonderful even that just occurred in Europe in November.
Till then, as they say in the Tor Scots...
Continuing from yesterday...
Members of the Royal family, Canadian Prime Ministers, Governor Generals, Ministers of Defense, Veterans Affairs and other ministries, veterans organizations and thousands of individual organizations and fellow Canadians have visited the Cross of Sacrifice.
Over recent years and no doubt probably back to the first dedication in 1927, on Armistice... and later Remembrance Day services at this historic cross would have been performed by Canadians of all stripes, and probably attended on many of these dates by American officials and the greater military family as well.
Over the years the cemetery has obviously gone through a number of expansions. Here we see that the overgrowth shown in the 1927 newspaper image has been removed. The area is now used as the final resting place of about 125 military veterans.
The Cross of Sacrifice was originally to recognize those lost in the Great War. Little did they know at the time that there would be another World War. Such yet again resulting in Americans by the thousands signing up with Canada for service years before the Americans declared war. In recognition for the Americans lost in that service, a WW ll plaque was added. The same for Korea a few years later.
Now is the time for thoughts being given to add yet a third panel for those lost in Afghanistan whilst fighting with the Canadians and against our common foe.
While I probably reached out to late to get a response, I have asked the Canadian Embassy to provide names for these officials that attended services this year at the Cross of Sacrifice. I may bring these names to you in a future update.
Over the past several years I and the Canadian Embassy at DC have often exchanged names and created a list of Canadians resting today at Arlington. Such a list only included a few not that long ago but now are in the 2 dozen range if memory serves me right.
Each year the embassy tries to get out on special occasions to visit these sites also to pay Canada's respect for their service.
After the 2005 visit of our Ambassador to Arlington to visit the graves of about a dozen Canadian MOH recipients, the Embassy has continued that service each year as well. During some of these visits it is possible that American officials may have also joined with their Canadian allies.
Regular readers know of my passion for the Joseph Noil story. A Nova Scotia coloured sailor who earned a Medal of Honor just a few years after the Civil War. He went on to continue his service for years, then took sick and bounce between a few hospitals before passing away at a DC hospital He was buried in a cemetery on site and remained so under a marker misspelling his name and without any indication that he was a MOH recipient either.
I worked on this case for some 8 years. Several others also played key roles in the work that culminated with a new Medal of Honor marker being mounted with a correct spelling that fixed mistakes that lasted over 130 years. The story was told over the internet and exposed to literally millions in April of 2016.
DC Embassy officials have now adopted this grave as well and I understand plan to visit it annually also. So too has the US Coast Guard, who's headquarters are located on another part of the same property, and named in honour of yet another Canadian MOH recipient... Douglas Munro, noted earlier.
The above image shows DC members at the Noil grave on 10 November.
Here is what the old marker looked like. The marker alone gives this man's story a new life, as it should!
Still with Remembrance services, regular readers of these blogs know of the decade and more than I have visited the grave site of Victoria's late Commander Rowland Bourke, a WW1 Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Order recipient for bravery off the coast of Belgium 100 years ago this year.
Over many of these years the local Naval reserve unit... Malahat has adopted this grave for the first of its 2 Remembrance Day services. Bourke descendants and Family and I attend these as well.
And finally... readers have read of the unveiling late last year of the new very attractive memorial dedicated to the 158 service members and 5 non-military that lost their lives whilst Canada did her part in the Afghanistan War.
Veterans of the Canadian Army's unit, the historic Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry have agreed to take on the important role of looking after this important monument.
Recently it was decided to have a brief ceremony at the monument on Remembrance Day and hopefully will carry that on in the years to come.
So a few hundred, including myself gathered to pay our respects to these veterans who lost their lives and to many others from that conflict that served, and their families at the home front, and were in the audience as well.
So folks, I hope I have answered the three questions that started these last two blogs.
See you again on Sunday,
Over the past month, and in fact... for years, I have found my self in conversations and asked why I spend so much time doing what I do most weeks in this space.
They ask how much did I get paid for the work I do to bring you these stories. They want to know how many read my work, who thanked me or even cares about the work.
To begin, over close to 2 decades I have received less than $500 in speaking or teaching fees and for overnight housing costs. On the other hand my costs have been probably in excess of $25,000 over those years. These do not include office costs for computer, long distance telephone fees, URL and cable fees and more.
The readership question depends on how stats are evaluated, and how accurate they are. About 2/3rds of the way through the life of the blog I was told by the server company that the stats since day one were being created wrong and changes were made. Some comfort when my numbers took a major dive.
But the story was more important than the numbers and I kept on nevertheless. I now estimate that there have been close to a million computer and individual hits. These num bers should be ten times higher but, with no funding for employing computer whizzes to assist with proper marketing of web sites, and their appearance, much is to be desired, I readily admit.
Who cares? Where to start?
On Canada Day back in 2005, the then serving Canadian Ambassador to the United States, took a military delegation to that nation's jewel of cemeteries... Arlington National Cemetery, to perform a service in remembrance of 9 Canadians who had earned Medals of Honor . In follow up correspondence to me he admitted the service was performed... at my request... and that the Embassy had no knowledge whatsoever that Canada had earned these medals and in fact that 9 were buried within a few miles of their very offices.
The Ambassador of Canada and his staff cared.
In 2007 the US Consulate to Canada, at Toronto, sent a delegation to Lindsay Ontario for a service where I also attended, as one of the organizers, and joined with me and 3 others in the unveiling of a memorial grave marker for an Ontario born Medal of Honor recipient.
The Consul cared, as did his staff. And so did the people of Lindsay, the re-enactors, the public, those that came up from New York and even the monument company that donated the memorial marker for free. They all cared.
That same year a grave stone was unveiled correcting the spelling and acknowledging the MOH status of a Canadian veteran buried in Los Angeles California. I attended and again was one of those unveiling the stone. The attending US General had many a question for me and was stunned to learn of the Canadian involvement with the US and in fact to be reminded that under his own command where Canadians.
He presented his country's flag to family, and they in turn to the Canadian Consulate office, where it is on display to this day I believe. An American flag in a Canadian government office. HMMMM!
All involved cared.
There are many other stories, but I want to also note the 2013 visit to Gettysburg and the shaking of hands of some 45 actual Medal of Honor recipients. Each was told most briefly about one of several Canadians who had earned the MOH. And each was stunned to here of such a major role we played in US military history.
They all cared.
As do the families of those gone, who earned the MOH. Many of the over 450 blogs in this space have brought stories about families meeting each other for the first time, or discovering a relative who had earned the medal or seeing a picture of him and or the medal... all cared.
In August 2017, the former Governor General of Canada wrote me a personal note to advise the he had awarded me HRH Queen Elizabeth ll's... Sovereign Medal for Volunteers, for my work over the years and the blog, then about 4 yrs old. He added his personal thanks... "for everything you do, you have made your community and our country stronger."
So too did our former BC Lt Governor who had flags flown at my request over Government House here in Victoria. These were to be presented to the family of Rowland Bourke, a Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Order recipient buried in Victoria and to the Ship's Captain and entire crew of the latest US Coast Guard Cutter Munro. This US warship is the 3rd in the US named after Vancouver BC born Medal of Honor recipient Douglas Munro, killed saving 500 lives and the only MOH recipient in that agency's history.
Both were flown over Government House on dates reflecting importance to both events.
And on no less that 3 occasions the former Lt Governor reminded me of her trips across BC and the telling over and over several of her favorite stories, one of these being the Douglas Munro story.
She too obviously cared.
Having one parent run over by a truck in WWll and another with glass piercing though her face in the same war, a grandfather who ran away from home as a teen to enlist in the Boer War, then serving in both World Wars and earning the MM, a distance cousin the VC and lineage to a Cdn PM (and former NS premier, and Father of Confederation) and to Royalty to boot, Remembrance was not an option... it was a duty in our family. And not one limited to one day a year. It also included on my part close to 20 years in uniform.
This background coupled with police work and writing, soon had me finding a niche in the military world not being properly addressed in Canada, and I day say..in the US as well. That being the Canadian connection to the Medal of Honor. The niche I have developed has no serious competition anywhere in North American that I am aware of.
This involves massive research, discovery, advocacy, documenting and promoting in an on-going basis. It also involves the rewriting of history, or should I say the correcting of history, and on occasion the correction of my own work. Two cases sit on my desk now and awaiting my attention.
The work going into these blogs is also greatly contributed to by supporters across the continent, and beyond, who bring corrections or other details and original research to my attention. Without their considerable time, energy and interest, this blog space would be sadly lacking.
And they all care also!
This caring goes extends to not just the heroes that came away from war with medals pinned to their chests. It also includes those who came home with wounds and disease, and those with ailments not readily visible to the eye. So too does this care extend to those on the home front and the costs paid there throughout the war years and beyond.
But so too did we care for those who did not come home, those that remembrance mostly focus its attention on.
Back about 80 years ago we in Canada did something even greater. We wanted to recognize our friends to the south, and more importantly the 30,000 or more than came northbound to enlist before the US joined the WW1 war efforts. And more specifically, those who served with Canada but were killed in action. In 1927 Our Prime Minister asked the US government to donate some land at the most sacred of all areas. That land being in Arlington National Cemetery. We asked their permission to mount a memorial to those Americans who were KIA while serving under Canada's (British) command.
Above is out PM's request to extend this honour, and below... American's acceptance and response.
The newspapers carried a few early stories.. I found three... all below...
The monument, to become known as the Cross of Sacrifice, would be of the same sort used by the Commonwealth Graves Commission throughout the British Empire. They came in the standard heights of 14, 18, 20 and 24 feet high and made of white stone. Arlington's would be 24 ft. high. One even higher... and in fact the highest ever, is 40 ft. and stands at Halifax N.S. All are fitted with a bronze sword... known as the Sword of Honor.
Arlington's Cross stands to this day within a few feet of the juncture of Memorial and Farragut Drives. Surely the most traveled areas of the cemetery and within very close proximity of the Amphitheater, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers where millions visit annually.
Farragut being the famous Civil War Admiral whom captured Mobile Bay after days of battle and its later surrender. Entering into the heavily fortified waters, his first vessel was destroyed leaving few survivors, after it plowed into a torpedo. (underwater bomb) The next in line stalled in fear of the same result and thus caused a ripple effect on about another dozen of the Union fleet from moving forward onto the attack.
Farragut had earlier climbed up one of the masts to get a look beyond the smoke of battle to command all, saw what was happening and hollered down ... "Damb the torpedoes... full speed ahead."
Medals of Honor came to Canada for participating in this battle to PEI's Thomas Fitzgerald, William Pelham from Halifax, Louis Chaput and James McIntosh from Montreal.
It should also be mentioned that a fellow by the name of Adam McCulloch also earned a MOH in this battle. He was not connected to Canada. But of interest, he was one of the double recipients in US history. But it claims only 19, his not being one of them... after history STOLE it from him as a member of the 27th Maine, oft noted in this space in the past. Note also that the famed Farragut flagship Hartford is where Fitzgerald and Pelham served and their resulting bravery brought them their Medals of Honor.
So while we see a Canadian cross remembering the Americans, we see a street at the same location that, in part, can be argued to remember those Canadians, and others who helped Farragut become famous from one of his most well known battles. Doubtfully one in a thousand traveling that area know it!
Here's a map of Arlington Cemetery, and a close up of the area where the cross is mounted...
I have numbers on the map but they cannot be seen. So, at upper right the arrow sits over the famed Potomac River and points to down town Washington DC. The arrow below points to the Pentagon which is located across the street from Arlington National Cemetery. Both are not in DC but simply across the bridge, but now into the state of Virginia, and its Arlington County.
The upper left arrow points to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and below this the arrow points up to the approximate location of the Cross of Sacrifice.
In this larger image we see the Tomb just below the centre of photo at its right The theatre is at its back Memorial Drive is the main street running up and down the map whilst Farragut as the upper main left to right Drive Almost in the centre of that area is a white dot. You are looking at the Cross of Sacrifice from the air.
Here we see the Cross almost completed in construction. Note the trees and overgrowth behind it. Today that same area has been cleaned out and now is the resting place of at least 125 veterans as later photo's clearly show.
It was indeed an honour for Canada to be able to gain permission to install the Cross at Arlington. As the above news accounts states, never before had another country received such a privilege.
I am not sure if this has been repeated over the years. But note that a few years back.. in 2016 HRH Princess Anne and husband and others traveled to Arlington, and later to Canada to unveil plaques commemorating certain Victoria Cross recipients. The unveiling actually came about as a result of earlier mistakes in England re who could be named on the plaques and who could not. Several blogs in this space brought you that story. Four of the five honoured on the Arlington plaque all served with the Canadian forces in WW1 when earning their VC's. Their names were also added to the plaque at Ottawa.
The 1927 Cross of Sacrifice unveiling and dedication was attended by many dignitaries from both Canada and the US including our Prime Minister and the US President. Over 200 Canadian troops representing several regiments, and bands form several units including the famed 48th Highlanders from Toronto participated as well. American troops in large numbers also played a role as did several of their bands.
Tomorrow I will bring another blog, to make up for last weeks missing blog, and will end today's with finishing remarks.
see you then,
Several fires on the go at the same time, plus trying to get a rest from two long blogs of late, will see me back with my next story tomorrow night.
NOTE: With yet another computer catastrophe, sickness, and having to pull and replace the last blog, also due to a couple of major errors, it was finally republished. But for those seeing the first one, and those that didn't, I suggest a reread is in order before trying to pick up with the flow today...
Men and women from Canada, or connected, have fought in American uniforms going back to the Revolutionary War.
It is often said that the Badge of Military Merit. created by George Washington was awarded only 3 times during that war. But a few others have come to light... including one, appearing in an earlier blog and evidencing the soldier was from Montreal.
Two of the actual badges that have survived are shown below. Both hand made, on a purple material and in the shape of a heart, though never called such till many decades later. The choice of the colour and name have been given in past blogs.
The first Purple Heart was in fact awarded after the infamous Purge of 1916-17 and the creation of a new pyramid of bravery awards for the US military. The first one ever presented went to General MacArthur in 1932. But the real first one, by date of award, was for WW l actions It went to nurse MacDonald, who was PEI born. Over 1.7 million have been awarded since.
Like MacDonald, many of her fellow Canadians have played major roles in the famous and even lesser known battles along side their counterparts in the US. But these rarely get the same notice, as do the American counterparts in the books, TV, big screen, and press anywhere in North America.
While probably serving in all elements of the military, such was not widely disseminated. In the movies The Great Escape, the Monuments Men and Argo, Hollywood has Americanized most of the plots and taken credit for much of the roles actual performed by Canadians. In fact, US former President Jimmy Carter would say after seeing Argo that... "I was taken aback by its distortion of what happened. Because almost everything that was heroic, or courageous, or innovative was done by Canada, and not by the United States."
In Gods and Generals, the opening movie scenes were about about the horrendous slaughtering at the "turkey shoot," better known as the Battle of the Crater. It failed to mention the dozens of Canadians fought and died there, including black soldiers. One Canadian white soldier came home with a Medal of Honor. Nor is there any real Canadian input into the Burns several disc series on the Civil War about the 50,000 plus Canadians in that war. Nor do we see any input in the movie Glory about the famous 54th Massachusetts and that Canadians, with their American brothers, were ordered to charge into a forlorn hope at Fort Wagner and suffered massive losses. Same for the Canadians charging downhill at Little Round Top with only fixed bayonets. They had already run out of ammunition, yet still won the day. Canadians to this day are buried at or near these battlefields.
North of the border many in Canada expressed serious concerns about American politicians pushing Lincoln to attack the British to the north... read Canada. The Brit's were already supporting the Confederates, (though they were supposed to be neutral) and some wanted the President to push north as well as south. But he proclaimed that one war at a time was enough. It would be a Canadian soldier, leading a few others that took the opportunity to question Lincoln in DC claiming he joined to fight the south... not the north. And fight he did, and earn a MOH to boot.
Meanwhile London had sent addition troops in the thousands to Canada. An 1862 newspaper account claimed that Canada was so worried that it was about to raise 750,000 men to protect the country. Possibly your ancestors and mine could have earned a whopping 50 cents daily to protect their country. An additional dollar if they brought along their horse!
So, do you think Canada should be remembering these facts and so many others that led, in part, to the creation of our very Dominion a few years later ?
How about remembering those that payed a role in capturing Jeff Davis in the end days of the war, or the fellow from Montreal who caught famed spy Bellie Boyd or the Canadian who shot famed Confederate General G.E.B. Stuart. or the Canadian soldier who served on General Grant's honor guard at the surrender of Lee's army at DC.
What about the soldiers from Canada who fought in the first major battle of the Civil War.. at Bull Run Virginia in July 1861 where about 5,000 men went missing, fell wounded or lay dead within just a few hours. MOH's would come back to Canadians after the war who participated in this battle and many others.
At least one man wasn't a man. That of course being the well told story of Frank Thompson, the New Brunswick born soldier, nurse and sometime spy for the North, who's real name was Sarah Edmunds, shown below.
About 100 miles to the north of Bull Run, and about 75 years earlier a farmer, inn keeper and large land owner decided it was time he took advantage of the numerous roads that converged in his neck of the woods. Since troops were often moving through the area, he decided to build them a resting station... read tavern. So he laid out over 100 lots and gave it his surname and ending with the word... burgh, a slang of the day referring to a village of sorts.
He's then add his surname... Gettys... burgh and the rest is history!
Over the first 3 days of July 1863 his town of about 2,400 and the surrounding area were taken over by over 170,000 troops who would do battle in the streets and surrounding area. Before it all came to an end and great victory for the North, casualties would number close to 50,000, be they the dead, the wounded, the POW's and MIA's. Many a Medal of Honor would be awarded for bravery in the battle. Some even came home to Canada. Some for actions before, at or after the battle. It is possible that our casualties could number close to 700 though confirmation is nearly impossible.
This battle has been mentioned often in this space. In one of the blogs mention is given to the Alberta grave of a CW soldier believed to have been the last survivor of the famous Pickett's charge. A Confederate officer also given lots of ink in these pages.
Remembrance is also due those Canadian MOH recipients, buried across the US, sometimes being the lone medal recipient in the cemetery itself. There are also cases where the Canadian recipient was the only recipient in his regiment of upwards of a thousand men (and more) to be so decorated. And then there are of course the two MOH men charged with murder, a third non medal man later murdering one of the two, a VC man also charged with murder and a MOH man who actually committed suicide. The stories are all in these blogs.
Canadians rest in about 2 dozen Arlington graves. Almost 1/2 are MOH recipients. Respects are paid to them each year by officials and the military attache at our DC embassy. It was back on Canada Day 2005 that the Cdn Ambassador to the US and several of our military went to Arlington that stated this tradition. At my request they performed a service at many of the MOH graves. Research has now added to the list and many of over 2 dozen are visited each year by Embassy staff and officials.
One of those Arlington graves, my research had recently discovered, is that of Lehna Higbee, one of the above mentioned nurses. Recent announcements tell us that in a few years a new US navy war vessel...the USS Higbee will be launched.
It will then join a proud history of the warships, USS Preston, US CGC Munro, the USS Stoddard, and possibly others that have been named after Canadian born US war heroes.
Should we not remember these folks? I believe about a dozen ships carried their names in honour of incredible heroism during their service... and death in 2 cases.
Past blogs have brought you the stories of the hero that did not know he was even awarded a Medal of Honor for over 30 years. He only learned of it by reading old naval orders. Another waited 30 years to get his MOH. He earned it after the ENEMY took years recommending it for him. And you can read here about the creation in the US of the Silver Cross award to mothers having lost a son or daughter to the war., and of its Canadian connection.
And we cannot forget our navy heroes who stood on the decks as the Admiral hollered down to DAMB THE TORPEDOES... and ... FULL SPEED AHEAD. And read further of the CW meanings of Biting the Bullet, Crossing the Dead Line, I Heard it on the Grapevine, and of the term Hookers. It's all here... and needing remembrance.
Some will recall recent publicity about raising the USS Monitor, sunk during the CW. It was an iron clad vessel of the Northern navy. It did battle on the 2nd of a 2 day spree for the USS Virginia (AKA the Merrimack) and also was an iron clad. Such being framed by railroad track so thick that it repelled most any shell the enemy could throw at it.
But on day two, the Northerners unveiled their own ironclad... the Monitor. On day two each Ironclad teased the other for hours before and both puffed off in opposite directions in equal frustration because neither could really hurt the other.
But on day one, several powerful Northern..but wooded vessels were destroyed or rendered useless. Many Union sailors were blown out of the water. There are dozens of Canadian connections to the story. News of the battle spread around the world within days and told all in the construction business that wooden clad ships were then a thing of the past and to expect victory with such was foolish.
In that first day of battle the Southerners only had one victim on the Merrmack. He was killed as he stuck his head put a window to service a cannon. And he was from a place called New Brunswick. Something to remember.
An equally famous CW naval Battle, off the coast of France has the USS Kersarge and the CSS Alabama in battle. Much has been said on this site about this venture, in which the Southerners lost. An interesting side bar is the fact that a very small graveyard at the shore overlooking the battle scene has only 3 graves in it. All are sailors from the Alabama. And again one was New Brunswick born.
After the wars the Canadians returned to Canada in some cases and often stayed in the US. They shed their uniforms often but not always. Some went into farming and business, or the law, police work, the courts and politics. Some went into printing, and the news, while others went into the hotel and alcohol establishments. A few were appointed customs agents to Canada, with offices within Canada while another was the US representative to Paraguay, a country that even issued a stamp in his honour, one of several stamps honouring Canadians.
On the United States we can see hundreds of thousands of statutes and markers and interpretation centres and grave markers and buildings, and roads, streets, avenues, schools public buildings and airports army and navy and air force facilities and other ways of keeping alive the names of their great war heroes and their deeds.
In Canada we can total similar markers honouring our Medal of Honor men in a total of probably less than a couple of dozen locations.
This is nothing short of disgraceful!
A year ago we finally got a wonderful memorial in Ontario to the 50,000 or more who fought, with names of some of the MOH recipients, but certainly not all. That aside, we now have someplace to go to give honour to those who fought for a common cause.
When I started the first of these 2 blogs I noted that the recent news about Victoria Cross recipient Fred Fisher contained the statement that his VC, was the first coming to a Canadian, who was serving under a Canadian command when the bravery occurred.
While this may be true, I ask why does it matter who was commanding. Is it not the same Canadian blood that ran through his veins that ran through the veins of the 50,000 that went south to fight in the Civil War. And what about the other half or thereabouts, who came back to Canada from other wars proudly wearing the US Medal of Honor. Is there any reason why we in Canada should not also celebrate their service to peace throughout the world!
I believe that we not only need to see some visual markers across the country in whatever form they may take that shed light on the stories of these men, and possible several hundred women as well who fought. I further believe that we should have one full day ...perhaps March 23, to celebrate our MOH recipients. The 23rd being the first day that medals were awarded...back in 1863.
In the mean time..here is a further thought... Just what does 50,000 look like.
Well, Google tells me that the average man, standing 5'8" and with arms fully spread, covers 69.2 inches. That being said, if you invite 8,112 men to stretch out their arms till just touching the next fellow, they will start a line at the eastern border of Alaska and reach the western shore of Newfoundland, if in fact that could go in an impossible straight line. It would take 6 such lines across the country, and add them all up you would have just under 50,000 men, not including the three who fell asleep.
That's how many we need to be recognizing for their US service.
We have a little ways to go!
Please share your comments.
A few days back an internet news item caught my attention. Noting the above anniversary, it told of the first shinning of lights on the box holding the Victory Cross posthumously awarded to 20 year old Canadian Black Watch hero Fred Fisher from St Catharines Ontario.
This Lance Corporal was killed in action in Belgium during the first poison gas attacks along the Western Front at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April 1915. It was during the 3rd attack he led in 2 days to save important artillery pieces from falling into enemy hands that he was killed in action. His Victoria Cross will be on display during ceremonies in France on Sunday November 11th. (details on net)
While difficult to see, the date on his medal (above) is inscribed... 23 April 1915.
The internet article noted that this very medal was the first to be awarded to a Canadian serving in a Canadian unit during the Great War.
While my research shows 109 VC's coming home to Canadians or those with connections to Canada, the accepted number by most is at 94-96. At least 7 came after Fisher's heroism, but still during the last 100 days, about 20 earlier in the Great War, another 7 during the Boer War and another 7 still earlier. Many more also were awarded for actions since the Great War. From my lists, I also note at least 42 not being born within Canada.
It may be a surprise to many, but the first ever Victoria Cross did not come to a soldier born in the British Empire, but in France. Same irony for the Medal of Honor. The first came to a non American born warrior. He was born in Ireland.... and died in Canada.
Moving closer to the topic of Remembrance, I believe that the original concept was for a time set aside to honour those who did not come home. Over the years this seems to have rightly expanding to those who served, both on the home front and the battlefields, and finally our government and others were shamed into recognizing many years too late, (most then dead,) the incredible role our merchant mariners played throughout the terrible war years. Added to these were the bravest of the brave and often, though not always, those so decorated.
Latest figures show that there were a total of 1,358 VC's awarded since first created in the mid 1800's.
About 1/2 decade after the VC was created, the Americans created their own medal for bravery. They called it the Medal of Honor, while many erroneously still insist on calling it the CONGRESSIONAL Medal of Honor.
The Civil War army version is at upper left and the navy one to the right. Over the years the medal and its suspension ribbon have changed slightly and today is usually worn around the neck of the recipient. A third version has since been created for the Air Force.
Most sources tell us that about 1520 MOH's were awarded for Civil War actions. These numbers of course conveniently ignore about 900 that were also awarded, but later removed from the honor rolls illegally. Such being oft noted in many of my 450 and more blogs during the past 70 months and so listed on this very site Each is searchable. In total the 3,522 MOH's should really read much closer to 4,422, since created.
These men and women during the Civil War years alone came from about 39 different countries. The fourth largest contingent was from the 1/4 million British North Americans living in the US at the time. To be added to these would be those from the PROVINCE of Canada, then being Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec) and the British colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (who would be the four joining and forming the Dominion of CANADA in 1867.) Others also came from the British colonies of PEI, and Newfoundland. Yet more came from west of Ontario though in much lower numbers.
In all, it is said that between 40 and 63,000 British North Americans would serve in the Civil War. Most settle at about 50,000.
Here's Canada East (blue) in 1855... and during CW days. And below is Canada West (pink.)
Records show that just a few years after these maps were produced, the eastern seaboard ports at Maine, Massachusetts and New York had been visited by the British North American traders no less than 26,000 times in 1859 alone. Obviously the states were very important trading partners with the northerners. But rumblings of war were on the horizon.
At the time, the navy officer in charge of several area forts in the Charleston Harbor was a soldier named Anderson. About 30 yrs earlier this major was the very officer called upon to sign the release papers for a tall fellow after the Black Hawk War ended. Apparently the officer was so sloppy that he was punished for two days by being forced to carry a wooden sword. That officer was named Abraham Lincoln.
But now it was a different time. And Anderson was in charge of the forts and Lincoln... the country. (Unknown if his new sword was medal or wooden, but assume the later.)
Anderson moved most of his supplies to Fort Sumter but by mid April the supplies had nearly run out. A Union vessel was dispatched but was fired upon by the Southerners, and with such depth needed to dock and offload, the vessel was driven off. The next to be sent was the Star of the West requiring less depth for docking. It claimed only supplies but really secreted over 200 men and arms. But it's Captain, a fellow named Wood, also chose not to dock and was driven off.
About about 40 years later this same officer became the first Canadian death of the Boer War. His family name was carried forth for by many descendants who reached very high ranking with the NWMP. His name appears with a handful of others on a monument at Halifax,NS but rather than being listed as the first victim, his name is further down the list. This, assuming the monument had not changed in the last half dozen yrs. since I last saw it.
By mid April 1861 the first formal shots were fired and the Civil War was on.
The Canadians fought in no less than 17 different states during the Civil War and even in the waters off Britain and France. In later years they fought wearing the various uniforms of the United States in wars against enemies in no less than 11 different countries.
In each one of these one or more Medals of Honor were awarded to a Canadian or service member with connections to Canada.
With immigration being such a hot topic in the US of late, it should be pointed out to those carrying on, that during CW days alone, it was the immigrant who earned one in 4 Medals of Honor. And looking at the entire history of all years since creation till today, the immigrants were awarded one of five of these precious medals.
Among the 11 Canadian generals of CW days, (many claim there were only 5 or 6) one was among the founders of the Republican Party and even nominated Lincoln for office. He would appear in a famed picture where about a dozen dignitaries stood at the side of the Lincoln death bed prior to his passing on. At least three Generals, and many Colonels from above the 49th raised regiments, including one who was a sitting member of the parliament of the day. (Others rose to those ranks during their service.) Another CW General is now at rest in a New Brunswick cemetery, while yet another donated land for the training of troops which ultimately trained at least one if not 2 future MOH men. Another would serve on his President's general guard of honour during the President's last train ride... from DC to Springfield for burial.
A lower ranking soldier from Atlantic Canada also served on the guard of men who accompanied the body along its twisted route through 80 cities in 15 states covering 170 miles, so that over 30 MILLION could line the track and pay their last respects to their cherished leader. An image of his Medal of Honor, in Canada today, was shown recently in one of my blogs.
Yet another MOH man was one of the handful that first built the touring car for the President. It was never used as such because Mr. Lincoln thought it was too elaborate. The soldier then got the call to return with the others to re-engineer it into a funeral car, and he complied. Lincoln use this as did his son. And it fell to a Lt from Ontario that the officials chose to hunt done John Wilkes Booth, and awarded him handsomely after success.
more in a few days...
This is the 2nd posting of this blog. A few errors had to be corrected and a little more added to the blog. Thus the original has been pulled.
The second part of this blog comes next.
A week from today is Remembrance Day in Canada.
I had planned to make a request regarding this for tonight's blog but that did not happen. Current projects prevented my finishing this off but hopefully that blog will appear by Wednesday.
(It no doubt being a slow news days in the US, hehe)
Sorry for the delay,
It was back in 1929 when Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung Louise McKinney and Henrietta Edwards became famous.
Their decades long successful battle to confirm qualification to take a seat in Canada's Senate affected women throughout the British Commonwealth. These five Non-Persons finally became PERSONS, as did all those women before them and since, born in the empire pre October 18, 1929 and born or then holding citizen status within the empire at the time, or since.
The case became known as the Famous Persons Case, and the five women fighting it, the Famous Five, and the Alberta Five.
In 1982 the federal government announced that it was creating Women's History Month in Canada and that October, would be so proclaimed annually.
We still have 4 days left for this year. While the federal government comes up with a theme for celebration annually and passing information forth to the provinces, and lists a number of events, much more needs to be done.
Back in March during International Women's Day an IPSO's survey released details about the depth of knowledge of 15 "famous" Canadian women. A full 40 percent of the 1,000 surveyed said they knew NOTHING about any of those listed. Of the 15, the highest hit was for BC's artist Emily Carr. (Only 37% knew of her.) Six of the names had a hit of 3% or less.
Nellie McClung ONE of THE FAMOUS FIVE... only had a hit of 16%. So much for being famous!
Google the IPSO Women's History Survey to find the above results and some material of each of the 15 women profiled.
All forms of media across the country should be contacted with regards to the importance of this month and request they give the subject a much higher profile. The federal government also needs to do more to assist the provinces, who are responsible for education, to better cover these matters in their education programs. And the libraries across the country should be influenced somehow to carry more and more books on the subject.
People do not know because they, for the most part, are not hearing much about the subject. And that is where you and I must exert some energy.
I have mentioned my late mother's role in the creation of Women's History Month and interviews I did with her about her work. Many have often said that in so many areas of her expertise, she was ahead of her time. One of her interesting thoughts was that whilst the work of her, (Kay/Cathryne Armstrong, CM) Lynne Gough and Cathy Blaskow here in the greater Victoria area, with others later coming on board to do their bit, she felt she did what she could, and the rest would be up to others to carry on.
It seems too many are slipping off to the sidelines on this matter !
Last week's related blog noted my recent public talk on the Person's Case, the Person's Award and Women's History Month to our local Victoria Genealogical Society.
The blog also noted the work of internationally known and well respected historian Merna Forster. Having written several books, documentaries, and important papers on women's history, this advocate for the fairer sex has amassed an impressive collection of well deserved accolades, medals and awards.
Within the next 8 weeks Canadians from coast to coast to coast will see evidence of her national petition and website movement to have the Bank of Canada return to the practice of using a woman's image on our new ten dollar bills. The sample shown in this space last week has the image of Viola Desmond on these new bills. The first women not of Royalty, and the first of colour to be so honoured.
The Desmond story happened almost a decade before the US story of Rosa Parks being ejected from a bus for sitting in an all white section in 1955.
Sitting in the "all white" section of the Roseland Theatre on Provost Street in New Glasgow Nova Scotia (in above image,) she was asked to move upstairs to the section for coloured patrons. She refused and offered to pay the extra one cent costs due... for taxes. Management refused the penny and hauled her off to jail for the night.
Several antics in behalf of the "system" resulted in her being convicted and fined. A few years back the Honourable Lt Governor of Nova Scotia... a woman... and of colour as well, granted... posthumously, a full pardon.
It should have been an acqquital... not a pardon!
When describing my talk last week at the Victoria Genealogical Society's monthly meeting, I noted my request that Professor Cecelia Benoit of the University of Victoria accept an invitation to briefly speak also. Only a few on the executive at the VGS were told about WHO the guest was and the membership were quite pleased to hear of Doctor/Professor Benoit's decades of work on women's issues in Canada and abroad.
While there are only 230 recipients of the Persons Award across Canada, only four have come from the greater Victoria area.. My mother's back in 1989 was the first. Professor Benoit's was the fourth, back in 2016. She appears to the left, above while Merna Forster appears to the right with me, the thorn between these two lovely roses.
Cecelia proudly wears her Person's Award in the photo.
Born on Newfoundland, Cecelia told the audience of her breaking many molds by being the first from her community to go off tho get a degree, and to go back for another and another and lead off to decades of service... in the areas of researching women's issues in the sex trades, to abuse of women and girls, to midwifery and pregnancies, drug abuse and much more.
Cecelia serves as a scientist at the Canadian Institute For Substance Abuse Research, a Sociologist at U Vic, a Fellow at the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Scientists.
Her work involves not only research into the problems, but what is needed to deal with them, and what legal challenges regarding legislation need addressing before solutions can be implemented.
Her work involves being an author and guest speaker, and having produced well over 200 papers on these maters and is well known across the country and beyond for her accomplishments in this regard.
I would highly encourage you to Google her name, look for her website and considerable materials at the U Vic site, and her most honourable mention now at the Victoria Genealogical Society's own website.
Hopefully an entire evening meeting can be dedicated to her work in the new year.
see you all next week.
Some say that earliest use of this phrase dates back hundreds of years. It was meant as an offer to actually pay another for whatever the thought was he or she was having that caused their face to send out such a feeling of curiosity.
In today's coinage that penny has risen to about 1.5 British pounds or the $2,50 price of a hamburger that now seems to more like a $10.00 hamburger at the local fast-food joint.
But more on that another day.
Over the past months, health and computer/printer issues have thrown curves in the way of my effectiveness in the blogging world. Coupled with attempts to keep up with queries coming my way from friends and others asking for help, or details on their own research or even expansions on something said in this space weeks... or months.... or worse yet...years ago often eat up time that is worth more than a peny and oft as rare.
That said I am again in front of my temperamental toys and bring you another series of tidbits.
The first is a ratter belated Happy Birthday, to one long since gone... a hero that you have read about often in this space. He would have been 99 yrs old on the 11th of October, but the enemy decided this was not to be. He gave his life in the saving of 500 marines and sailors back in 1942.
This being Women's History Month, I gave a short talk on the 11th to the Victoria Genealogical Society, of which I have been a proud member for close to ten years. It was on some of the materials behind the scenes, and not well known about the famous Persons Case of 1929, that ended almost a 2 decade battle to allow women to be nominated to our senate. Interesting details of the medal and the historic month were also shared for the first time for many. I even arranged for a very special surprise guest to share her story.
The Persons Case is not just a Canadian case, but one that back in 1929, and since has spanned the entire British Commonwealth. In fact it even stretches into the US. If your mother or grandmother or great Grandmother was born in the commonwealth before October 18, 1929, she had been, in effect ruled to be a NON Person before that date. I know of 2 US born MOH men who's mother or grandmother falls into that category. (And these are not part of well over 100 I cover in this space.) No doubt there are even more.
Each year in October between 5 and 7 very credentialed people are presented with an actual medal, usually at Ottawa, and from the very hands, in most cases, of the current serving Governor General of Canada.
At the time of our local genealogy meeting, the recipients had not all been contacted yet by Ottawa, and thus numbers or names were not released to the public yet. But this info was released on the 18th... the very day so many years earlier granting women the right to sit as senators. So here are the names of the 6 new recipients, taking the total number across the country to 230. (If my calculations are correct.)
This is an actual Person's Award. It hangs around the neck and is inscribed with the words "Persons Case" in both official languages and "1929". While depicting 5 women... they are NOT the actual five who fought the case.
Here we see a thorn (me) between two roses. I am proudly wearing my Canadian Forces Decoration Medal (CD) for long service in the CF and the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers awarded to me by the Governor General of Canada in August of 2016, and presented the following January at Victoria by the then Lt Governor of the province.
Next Sunday I will bring you some information about Professor Cecelia Benoit, who is shown on my right and wearing her Person's Award.
On my left is University of Victoria's Merna Forster, the Executive Director of the "Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian Heritage Project."
Note we all are wearing blue... a tide of blue... perhaps a sign of things to come in the weeks ahead!
Between 2013 and 2016 Merna collected some 73,000 signatures and added them to mine. Her many petitions were forwarded to Ottawa calling for the final return of the image of Canadian female trailblazers of our past to our paper currency. In addition she has researched and brought forth two well received books outlining the lives of some 200 women who played critical roles in Canada's history. I suspect, and pray, that more will come.
The Minister of Finance announced that due to the overwhelming support for the petition, he promised to see to it that a woman's image was placed on the $10 bill in late 2018. Further, Merna's work would see her appointed to the very committee charged with sorting through all the proposed names, and to give the Minister of Finance a list of only 12 from which he would pick THE woman who shall have this high honor. Her work also brought Merna the highly sought after Pierre Berton Award and welcome $5,000 cheque, and also the Meritorious Service Medal. because of her dedication to preserving Canada's heritage.
Merna wearing her Pierre Berton Award, in Ottawa with our former Governor General David Johnston.
Her books are available on the net.
While making her first official trip to Victoria in March 2018, our new Governor General, Julie Payette presented Merna with the Meritorious Service Medal for her work with the books and the petition. Being such a recipient Merna is entitled to use the post nominals... MSM on all appropriate occasions.
The Governor General is wearing the Order of Canada insignia. Her's of course is of the highest level next to HRH, the Queen. As Gov. General, she has been appointed Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order. Those below are Companions, Officers and members.
Surely by now you must be asking about the title of today's blog..how does the peny fit into today's story...
On Friday 8 November 1946 Viola, a very successful beautician, beauty consultant, teacher, and entrepreneur was driving from Halifax to Cape Breton Nova Scotia on business. Her car broke down and she was forced to spend the night in New Glasgow awaiting arrival of parts and repairs being done. So she decided to take in a movie.
She asked for a down stairs ticket costing 40 cents plus taxes. But the operator sold her an upstairs ticket. It was cheaper..at 30 cents, and taxes were a whopping one cent (peny) less. Having bad eye site, she chose to sit on the main floor...and, as they say... the rest is history!
The manager came along and said she had to go upstairs to the balcony. She protested and offered to pay the extra sent. He refused and went off, only to return with a policeman.
But by then Viola realized what was going on. It had nothing to do with the one cent and everything to do with her skin colour. It was black, and blacks could not sit with the white folk.
This very respectful business owner was dragged out of the theatre, losing a shoe and her purse and put in a jail cell for the next 9 hours right next to 4 male prisoners. Not given the chance to appeal, get a lawyer, get access to some of the details etc, she lost her case, and was forced to pay a 20$ fine, 6$ in costs...that went straight to the theatre manager... and the one cent in taxes, one presumes.
A later appeal also failed for various reasons. Pressures the entrepreneur now faced resulted in shutting the business down and moving to the US...where she actually had to get her original training, since blacks were not allowed to get this in NS at the time. She would die there in the mid 1960's.
It would be Viola DESMOND's name that the Minister of Finance would select to be the woman who's image would appear of the $10 bill, now unveiled, but to be released for circulation before the end of the year.
This is Viola in about 1940.
Viola's younger sister Wanda Robson of Cape Breton Nova Scotia is shown here. Study the picture and the shocked look on her face as she sees for the first time... a Black NS woman on a Canadian bill... a ten dollar bill, and the image...for the first time ever is lengthwise and has her sister depicted as if standing up... to be heard.
And Oh! how she will be heard for years to come.
Thanks to thousands who signed petitions, and folks like Merna Forster and a government willing to move forward rather than backward on the issue.
There is quite a bit on the net about this woman. But I highly recommend you set aside 45 minutes and watch the video below that tells a great story about what happened to her and how the case was finally turned around from the disgrace it was to a real teaching point and ultimate credit to Canada of this decade.
It contains lessons that some of our neighbours could certainly learn from as well.
Note This blog was to appear last night but the computer ate about 1/3rd of it and had to be redone today... The crumbs are still all over my desk.
See you next week.
But one final thought... years ago, when I interviewed my mother about Women's History Month I asked at the end of the chat.. for a final comment. Mom stunned me with the comment that is was no longer time... to stand up and be heard... but time to sit down at the tables where decisions were being made... and being one of them casting their vote on those decisions.
Words to think about folks,