"Thank You to a Veteran" 

"Thank You to a Veteran" - should be something everyone of us should think, and especially say, every day!

The calendar has rolled up the month of November. What does that mean? To some it means “Oh my goodness, Christmas is almost here and I have not purchased a single gift, let alone planned Christmas dinner for all the family! For others it means football playoffs. Still more, begin planning a winter getaway holiday. 

These events would be difficult for us to even contemplate if it had not been for the actions of the brave men and women who went to war, not once, but twice, to protect our freedom. 

Calendar Reminds Us to SAY: 
"Thank You to a Veteran" 

That is why when the calendar says it is November, we should first of all remember those who fought, died, were wounded or returned home with horrible nightmares of what they had seen. 

Today, I am going to talk about the Second World War. My father, three uncles, my father-in-law and many other family members and friends fought in that war. 

The 1930s had been a time of economic hardship throughout the western world. As that decade approached its conclusion it appeared as if the hard times were over and everyone could get back to some sort of normalcy. 

However, in early September 1939, a few short months before the "dirty thirties" could come to a conclusion, a new harbinger of difficult times appeared. 

For months Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler had been stirring up turmoil throughout Europe. 

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had tried to negotiate some sort of understanding with the German leader, but he had proved to me no match for Hitler. 

However, on that first weekend in September 1939, it became clear that some sort of action would be necessary to stop Hitler's quest for dominion over his European neighbours. 

All weekend long hundreds of area residents gathered around newspaper offices or huddled beside a radio waiting for news of what they feared would happen next. 

At six o'clock on Sunday morning a bulletin was issued that Chamberlain had not received assurances from Hitler that he would withdraw his troops from Poland. 

As a result of this failure by the Germans to agree to Britain's demands, the Prime Minister had announced to the British House of Commons that Britain was now at war with Germany. 

Shortly after the bulletin had been issued the news of the impending war spread like wildfire throughout not only Britain, but also Canada. 

The major topic of discussion in local restaurants and churches that Sunday morning was whether the Canadian Parliament would follow Britain and make their own declaration of war against Germany. 

In many area homes, memories of the First World War were reawakened, bringing thoughts of loved ones lost or injured in that war. 

There is no doubt that many worried about what losses the impending conflict would bring to the families of Grey and Bruce counties. 

For the next five years the Second World War dominated the lives of Canadians. 

Then, early in May 1945, another bulletin, this time with much happier news, was issued.

The war with Germany was over! Pandemonium broke out! 

Factory whistles and church bells were sounded. Everyone took to the streets. As soon as they were notified, principals at the local schools released their students from classes. 

The streets of every Canadian community were the scene of joyous celebrations. 

Union Jacks were unfurled. 

Impromptu parades were formed with marchers singing and shouting. Car and truck horns blared as jubilant celebrators. 

The Nazis had been defeated and once again peace was at hand. 

The end of the war was greeted with ecstasy by most Canadians. 

They were excited at the prospect of seeing sons, husbands and friends who had gone overseas to fight for their country. 

Unfortunately, there were also homes where rejoicing the end of the war was on a much lower key. 

They were the family and friends of the men and women who would not be coming home from the fight to preserve freedom. 

So, before you start your Christmas shopping, plan your winter vacation, etc. stop and say thank you to a veteran, or just simply be thankful for the actions of all those brave men and women!

Several versions of this story have appeared in many columns that I have written for publications in November. So, once again, remember to say "Thank you to a Veteran."

History Pages

12-year-old Walks to Owen Sound in 1851 from the journal of a teenage boy's experience travelling with his brother in the untamed Upper Canadian wilderness.

1st Grey County Building in 1852 was only built after many hurdles were overcame.

Land Auction in Amabel Township provided the opportunity for settlers to purchase land and begin a new life in Bruce County in the 1850s.

Georgian Bay's 1st pioneer settler arrived on the western shoreline long before any other settler reached the area.

An Unlikely Hero From Grey County (Part 1) found his way from the farming community of Flesherton to missionary work in the Ottawa Valley, and beyond.

An Unlikely Hero Vs. The KKK (Part 2) Our hero from Grey County took his missionary zeal south of the border and ultimately crossed paths with the infamous KKK!

Barn Raising: A Pioneer Economic and Social Necessity as it provided settlers with an opportunity not only to build a barn, but also build a community.

"Barring Out": A Pioneer School Tradition was a custom which the settlers brought to the new world from England, or Scotland.

Baseball History in Southwestern Ontario is rich, and surprisingly longer than one might expect, actually setting historical precedents!

British Peerage a Source for Township Names. It is interesting to check the origin of the names bestowed on pioneer places such as towns, townships and counties.

Census Takers in 1891 Canada faced difficult obstacles to gather the necessary information but the results were revealing then, and today.

Ceylon Ontario: How it Got its Name: It is always interesting how a community got its name, but I doubt any place received its name from a more unique source!

Chatsworth Ontario: First Settlers took advantage of fulfilling the needs of pioneer travellers and built a thriving community in the Upper Canadian wilderness.

Chesley Ontario Welcomes the Krug Brothers who were not only successful, but made significant contributions to the social fabric of their adopted home town.

Krug Impact on Chesley Ontario was immense not only in terms of the community's social fabric but with regards to community's economic growth.

Clearing Trees a Daunting Task for Settlers as they worked to fulfill their obligations for their land grant.

Billy Crawford: Pioneering Spirit Personified. If you take the time to consider the people you have met during your life you too may know or have known, someone with pioneering spirit just like Billy Crawford.

Bruce Road 3: A Colonization Road  linked prospective settlers to undeveloped Crown Lands and a new life.

Dornoch: or is it Smithville? Originally it was Smithville, then it became Dornoch. But, surprise it is still, in reality Smithville!

First Pioneer in Durham: Archibald Hunter established his family, and a hotel, in what would become the centre of the town of Durham.

Durham Ontario Influenced by the Saugeen River. This river provided a means to create new industries, but especially in the spring it can also pose a menace to the community.

Frozen Rivers & Lakes can be Hazardous: Icy waterways offer many benefits such as ice fishing, but beware weak, or thin ice is not easily detected and can spell disaster.

Grey County Bylaws to the 1890s reveal a lot about the financing of local government, especially education in the early days of the region.

John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.

The Glorious Twelfth: A Tradition from Across the Pond which served to both unite and divide pioneer communities.

A Heroic Woman From Grey County who made great changes as a doctor in China in the 1890s and early 1900s.

Jesse James: In Grey County? An interesting question. Did the notorious gangster hide out in Proton Township? We will never know. But it is fun to speculate!

Kilsyth's Train Engine was one for the history books. It brought an evening of joy followed by disappointing news soon after.

Kincardine Ontario's First Settlers using a bit of savvy and some luck created a future form themselves and their families on the Lake Huron shoreline.

The Knight's of Meaford have long history in that Grey County community. Their business forged by early settlers employed many locals and supported the economy.

Leith: Tom Thomson's Birthplace is part of the rich heritage of this community located on the east shore of the bay north of Owen Sound.

The Leith Golf Course has provided many families with great memories. The history of this golf course starts, and ends, with the generosity of one family.

Agnes Macphail was a political trailblazer in a part of Ontario that one could hardly expect such radical action for the era in a rural region.

Markdale Ontario: The Beginning: originally known as Glenelg East, but the coming of the railway and the name of owner of the land for the station led to a change of identity.

Maple Syrup: A Pioneer Necessity and a trading commodity for indigenous peoples is now a Sunday morning breakfast treat with pancakes!

Meaford Ontario, first called Peggy's Landing located on the shores of Georgian Bay has a rich history.

Meaford vs Purdytown. Conflict over the name of a new community was not unusual in early Grey County but electing a school trustee was the "hot button" issue in this rivalry.

Mildmay Ontario overcame competition from other communities to claim its spot in Carrick Township on an important settlement route to the Lake Huron shoreline.

Paris Ontario: Who Knew this community had such a unique origin and how the local citizens used that history to protect the environment of their region?

Pioneer Doctor: Dr. James Smith, a local boy who became a doctor and served his community for his entire life was a testament to Grey County community spirit.

Pioneer Healthcare in Grey and Bruce counties was not administered by doctors, nurses, or pharmacists, no it was the responsibility of the women of the community.

Pioneer ingenuity created many labour-saving devices and methods and quite often helped to create a sense of community.

Pioneer Christmas: A Family Tradition as told to me by may grandparents who experienced Christmas as children in the 1880s and 1890s.

Pioneer Settlement in Arran Township was encouraged through the offer of inexpensive land for sale, but the offer of free land was another enticement offered elsewhere.

Pioneer Settlement Plans for Grey County began almost two decades before the rest of Grey County was available for settlement.

Pioneer Diaries Provide Interesting Information about many topics, but sometimes information about the weather can be quite surprising!

Pioneer Teachers in Grey and Bruce Counties had a long and arduous task, not to mentions strict and confining job requirements for very little salary.

Plowing Match in Grey County in 1933 the first International Plowing Match held in Grey and Bruce counties and it's success led to more such events in Grey.

Port Elgin Ontario Started with a Storm. A ship forced to seek refuge from Lake Huron's stormy wrath signalled to one man the idea of starting a new community.

Settling Osprey Township: Parts of Osprey were considered too rugged to settle, but today they are prime real estate because of the great view!

Southampton Ontario Suffered a Major Fire in 1886: The havoc was created by a furious high wind storm that spread the flames over much of the town.

Swamp College: Proton Township: this colourfully named institution of education in Grey County has provided many stories to the heritage of the region.

Sydenham Township's First Council undertook the often difficult task of creating a new municipal infrastructure.

Tara Ontario mill was founded in 1851 by John and James Tobey. In later years, under different ownership, the Tara mill would be the site of important innovations. 

"Thank You to a Veteran" - should be something everyone of us should think, and especially say, every day!

The Impact of Snow is not what is Used to be! As snow removal equipment has improved the impact of snow on our lives has reduced significantly from previous eras.

Unique Characters: Nathaniel Herriman lived in Grey County and owned an inn to provide food and and accommodation to early travellers. Each day he performed a unique practice.

Unique Maps: Quilts Guided the Underground Railroad to enable runaway slaves to escape to Canada and freedom from the shackles that enslaved them.

Walkerton Ontario: The Beginning of this Bruce County town is the result of the drive and determination of one man, Joseph Walker.

From Lochnaw to Manitoulin - A Review this book details through a soldier's diary a trip from Penetanguishene to Manitoulin Island in 1839.

History Pages introduces the readers to interesting people, places, and events that I have researched and written about in my writing career that spans more than three decades.

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