Week of November 20 – November 24, 2021
On November 05, 2006, the Honourable Gregory Thompson (Minister of Veterans Affairs), the Honourable Gordon O’Connor (Minister of National Defence), and Governor General, Michaelle Jean, unveiled the new Valiants Memorial, in Ottawa, on the northeast side of the National War Memorial. The new Memorial is a collection of nine busts and five statues depicting individuals from critical periods of conflict in our nation’s history, as well as a large bronze wall. I would like to use this week’s journal to share some background on the project and the Canadian individuals the Memorial recognizes.
The men and women honoured in the Memorial were selected on the advice of the Valiants Foundation, composed of distinguished military historians. The Foundation partnered with the National Capital Commission (NCC), as the NCC manages and provides direction for commemorative monuments of national significance. In 2004, the NCC conducted a national design competition and worked with the selected design team of John McEwan and Marlene Hilton to develop the concept that came to be the Memorial.
A total of fourteen individuals are represented in the Memorial, which include:
- Comte de Frontenac (he successfully defended Québec from English attack in 1690),
- Pierre Le Moyne d’Ibervilleis (he boldly fought the English, often against great odds in 1697),
- Joseph Bryant (he was a notable Mohawk warrior and statesman, and principal war chief of the Six Nations; he led his people in support of the British),
- John Butler (he gathered backwoods intelligence, led aboriginal troops, and raised a force of Loyalist refugees - Butler's Rangers - to fight for Britain),
- General Sir Isaac Brock (he commanded the forces of a deeply defeatist Upper Canada and turned the tide of the American invasion when he captured Detroit in 1812),
- Charles-Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry (he formed the celebrated Voltigeurs Canadiens and in 1813, he outwitted and defeated a vastly superior American force at the Battle of Chateauguay, helping to save Lower Canada from invasion),
- Laura Secord (she averted a British defeat at Beaver Dams in 1813, when she overheard plans for a surprise attack and struggled alone through miles of dense bush to warn the commander of the British post),
- Georgina Pope (she was the first Canadian awarded the Royal Red Cross for conspicuous service in the field and in 1908, became the first matron in the Canadian Army Medical Corps),
- General Sir Arthur Currie (he helped plan the great victory at Vimy Ridge and as the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps, his brilliant leadership produced the sweeping Canadian victories of the war's Last Hundred Days),
- Corporal Joseph Kaeble (he leapt to the parapet with his machine gun and single-handedly repulsed approximately 50 attacking Germans in June 1918 and was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage),
- Lieutenant Hampton Gray (he earned a posthumous Victoria Cross in August 1945, and despite intense enemy fire, he attacked and sank a Japanese destroyer before himself going down in flames),
- Captain John Wallace Thomas (he served in the Merchant Navy with heroism in two world wars and as Captain of the Empress of Scotland in 1940, he manoeuvred brilliantly under an air attack off Ireland, saving the ship and the troops on board),
- Major Paul Triquet (he won the Victoria Cross in 1943 for capturing Casa Berardi in Italy, a position of great tactical importance during World War II), and,
- Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski. He made heroic, but unsuccessful efforts to save his trapped comrade, the rear gunner. The latter, who finally told Mynarski to save himself and bailout, miraculously survived the crash. Pilot Officer Mynarski was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Memorial honours these fourteen valiant men and women for their heroism during five periods of conflict and resolution which marked Canada’s road from a seventeenth century European colony to a twentieth century North American nation. The inscription on the wall reads Nulla dies umquam memori vos eximet aevo, which translates to, “No day shall ever erase you from the memory of time.”