December 15, 2016: Where We Come From

On November 11, I was among the attendees at the Remembrance Day observance held on Vimy Ridge. It was the last ceremony before the centenary of the First World War battle that took place from April 9-12, 1917. Come April 9, 2017, these photographs will be posted in the Focal Point blog.


Vimy Ridge, France


Brigadier General Alexander Ross, commander of the 28th (North-West) battalion, famously said: “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then…that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.”  The sacrifice, selflessness and strength remain inspirational to present-day Canadians, whether they come from Barrie or Budapest, Saskatoon or Shanghai.


Vimy Ridge, France


After Vimy, I ventured south to Portugal. Much as is the case with the Portuguese community in Canada, friendliness, conviviality and respect are essential constituents of their code for daily living; also, a passion for soccer that any Montrealer or Torontonian can attest to after July's Euro 16 victory over France. The vacation soon became a busman’s holiday, as I decided to turn first impressions into on-the-fly portraits of a people who have contributed approximately 430,000 upstanding citizens to our Canadian mosaic.  


Lisbon, Portugal


Porto, Portugal


Porto, Portugal 


Lisbon, Portugal


Coimbra, Portugal


Porto, Portugal 


Porto, Portugal


Lisbon, Portugal


Porto, Portugal


Porto, Portugal


Porto, Portugal


Coimbra, Portugal


Porto, Portugal


Cape Saint Vincent, Portugal


Costa Vicentina, Portugal


Lisbon, Portugal


• • •


Occasionally, it takes someone from outside our borders to remind us of the special place Canada holds among nations. Robert Calman sent this email in response to the Remembrance Week post:


"My father was a World War I American soldier in France but he never saw action. And I was an American soldier at the end of the Korean War but I was sent to Germany and saw no action but lived through a couple of threats (Egypt seized the Suez Canal, Hungarian Uprising) but President Eisenhower decided against military action on both.

In late 1940 or early 1941 I was eight years old, almost nine. The principal of my school in Des Moines, Iowa, had a nephew in the RCAF and she wore an RCAF pin on her suit jacket every day. These were the days when Britain and her Commonwealth countries stood alone. Young Americans - a few of them - who saw the right and wrong in World War II - like Mrs. Touey's nephew - joined the RCAF. And our music teacher taught us "O Canada". And young Canadians went off to fight the Nazis. We would join the fight in late 1941.

That was 75 years ago. Young men just ten years older than me fought and died in World War II. They died to make the world safer for you and me and countless millions. 

Thanks for reminding me to remember. In four days it will be November 11, 2016. That's 98 years since the Armistice was signed to end World War I."


From Len Ford in Nanaimo, BC to Gail Hedley in Regina, SK to Robert Calman in Philadelphia, PA, I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful 2017.


Always looking forward to your comments. 


The Parting Shot:

Crisp winter light on the Rivière Rouge heralds the holiday season. 


Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, QC

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