Canadian War Musuem
Last week I visited the new Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Long overdue was a tribute to our country’s Armed Forces, from the beginnings in the years prior to the discovery of the New World by Columbus, to present day Peacekeeping missions abroad. All I can say is: finally, our government has come up with a project worthy of our military. Let me share with you my day at the museum, which I had the pleasure to visit with my daughter and my nephew.
The museum is located in Ottawa, our Nation’s capital. It is located at 1 Vimy Place (aptly named) near the provincial border with Québec. There is a 310 place underground parking and the museum is accessible through the parking. As we entered, we proceeded to pay our admission fees, which are quite reasonable. Then the tour began.
Our first stop was the Permanent Exhibition which is divided into four galleries. The first gallery is called "Battlegrounds" which is named appropriately for the numerous wars fought by the French and English culminating in the defeat of the French at the Plaines of Abraham in 1759. When Wolfe saw the fortress of Québec for the first time he would have stated that this was the most heavily defended fortress in the world and thought it impregnable. A few months later, he took Québec, although he lost his life. This gallery further includes the failed attempt by the Americans to capture Québec, the war of 1812 which both belligerent claim victory, the Patriot rebellion of 1837-1838, in which Québec and Ontario revolted against the British rule only to be put down, the Fenian Raids of 1866 and the North-West Rebellion of 1885 which ended with the rebel leader, Louis Riel tried and hung. Even today, this hanging is subject of controversy.
General Isaac Brock’s uniform killed at Queenston Heights in 1812 (left)
Colonel Charles de Salaberry Commander of the French Canadian Voltigeurs at the Battle of Châteauguay 1813 (right)
The second gallery is called "For Crown and Country" which covers the South Africa War (Boer War) and the First World War in which over 60,000 Canadians lost their lives. Not too many people know that Canada participated in the Boer War, well over 7,300 soldiers participated and over 200 were killed and are buried in South Africa today. Acts of courage and heroism in this war resulted with four Canadians being awarded the Victoria Cross. World War I, the war to end all wars; Canada emerged from it as a nation with it’s place in history. The Canadian Corps is synonymous with battles such as Second Ypres 1915 (first gas attack by the Germans), Vimy, Passchendeale, the Ludendorff Line, Mons. In fact, the Canadians had become crack assault troops and were regarded by the Germans as the elite and wherever the Canadians were in the frontline, a major offensive would surely begin.
The third gallery is "Forged in Fire" which covers the period of the Second World War. In 1939, Canada declared war on Germany after she invaded Poland. Canadians were quick to volunteer to fight the Huns and a few Canadian Divisions were set up and shipped overseas. As in World War I, the soldiers of World War II were to acquire a reputation of tough, crack troops. From the disaster of Dieppe in 1942, to the Sicily and Italian mainland invasion of 1943, Liri Valley, Hitler Line, Ortona, Casa Berardi, The Gully, the Gothic Line, Normandy, Carpiquet, Caen, French coast ports, Scheldt estuary, Holland, the Canadians never ceased to do their duty and paid a heavy price.
Gallery 4 is named "A Violent Peace" which covers the Cold War, Peacekeeping, and Recent Conflicts, 1945 to the present. Canadian participation in the Korean War is mentioned, particularly the battle of Kapyong where the surrounded PPCLI held off Communist hordes until relieved. Canada has been a major contributor to the United Nations Peacekeeping efforts from the Golan Heights, Cyprus, Sinai to the more recent Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, East Timor and Haiti. In 1991, Canada participated in the First Gulf War to assist in expelling Iraqi troops from Kuweit and Canadian troops are presently deployed in Afghanistan to fulfill it’s role in the War against Terror. Gallery 4 is also the area which covers the Cold War between the NATO and the Warsaw Pact. With the fall of communism in 1989-1991 this conflict has since ended without a shot being fired.
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