Tag Archives: Canadian War Museum

Vimy

10 Aug

The highlight of my trip to Ottawa was visiting the Canadian War Museum. It  presents Canada’s military past and how it shaped the country.The exhibits explain Canada’s rich military history from earliest times to the present, featuring the experiences of people on the battlefields and at home.

It was extremely well done and made me cry more than once.

The weekend I was there marked the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, so being there was especially poignant. I was especially touched by the display of the Vimy War Memorial.

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If you don’t know much about the Vimy War Memorial, I recommend reading The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart, who happens to be one of my favorite Canadian authors for adults.

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The book was originally published in 2001, but really captures the passion and heartbreak of war and the power of art to transform.

From the publisher: Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, The Stone Carvers weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward’s ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.

If you’ve never read anything by Jane Urquhart, I highly recommend that you do. She is a beautiful writer.

WWI @100

25 Jun

On Saturday we mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the trigger that set off the maneuvering that became the First World War. Or the Great War, as they called it. They didn’t know then that they were supposed to number them. The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful collection of legacies of WWI that you can see here. It is well worth looking at.

When I go to Canada later this summer, we will visit Ottawa and I am very excited to see the Canadian War Museum. I haven’t been to Ottawa since our grade 10 trip in 1980, and there are a number of museum that have been built in the decades since my last visit there.

There are a number of WWI related books out now, and no doubt, some more to come over the next four years. I hope to tell you about many of them. Today’s book is the story of a war dog.

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Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog is written by Anne Bausum and is published by National Geographic.

From the Publisher: Stubby, the stump-tailed terrier, worked behind enemy lines, and gained military honors along the way. Private Robert Conroy casually adopted the orphan pup while attending basic training on the campus of Yale University in 1917. The Connecticut volunteer never imagined that his stray dog would become a war hero. He just liked the little guy. When Conroy’s unit shipped out for France, he smuggled his new friend aboard. By the time Stubby encountered Conroy’s commanding officer, the dog had perfected his right-paw salute. Charmed, the CO awarded Stubby mascot status and sent him along with Conroy’s unit to the Western Front. Stubby’s brave deeds earned him a place in history and in the Smithsonian Institution where his stuffed body can still be seen. Almost 100 years later, Stubby’s great deeds and brave heart make him an animal hero to fall in love with and treasure all over again.

The book is well researched and full of photos and quotes. Backmatter includes an afterword, timeline, research notes, bibliography, resource guide, citations, and index. It would be an excellent means of introducing kids to the details of WWI, which many of them know very little about.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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