Honouring their stories

Preserving the unique history of Canadian veterans has become increasingly important. More than one million Canadians served in Canada’s Armed Forces during the Second World War, and today Veterans Canada estimates that only about 88,000 are still living, with an average age of 90. Statistics such as these indicate that future generations may never get to hear first-hand accounts directly from the men and women who fought on the front lines. At Chartwell, we are proud that many veterans live with us. Their courage, service and sacrifice have kept Canada strong, proud and free, and this Remembrance Day, we honour them by highlighting some of their stories and memories…

“In November 1942 I was posted to Gander, Newfoundland, which was one of the main stations involved in the battle of the Atlantic. The troop ship selected to ferry us to Newfoundland was the Lady Rodney, escorted by a Canadian destroyer. The trip was very rough, causing most of the passengers, including myself, to become seasick. When we finally entered the harbor in St. Johns, awaiting us were Salvation Army personnel along with local volunteers. They had with them hot coffee and sandwiches. It made me realize how very important the home front was in keeping up the morale of the fighting troops.”
Miro Kostiuk, Chartwell Robert Speck

“I graduated from Kamloops High School in 1942 and intended to go into nursing, but the Navy began recruiting women, so I applied and was accepted to train as a Wireless Operator. I was assigned to a top secret listening post out of Ottawa where our primary role was pin-pointing the location of German U-boats, hundreds of miles away, and intercepting morse code communications from the Subs as they radioed to headquarters in Germany and France. It was a matter of listening intently to the radio frequency and monitoring signals emerging from the scratchy static.”
Lois McGlashing, Chartwell Colonel Belcher

“Remembrance Day has always been a meaningful time of year for me. Not only did I serve in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, but I also met my wife at a Legion dance, after the Armistice Day parade. That’s why November 11th is a special date in my book. My first daughter was also born on the 11th of that month, after my wife and I were married.”
James Mccaulay, Chartwell Belvédères Lachine

“We were on route to a Training Centre in Ontario and I remember one particular lunch – fish in batter. After eating, we all got sick and it was assumed that some sort of poison had managed to enter the food supply. It was determined that it was rat poison that was mistakenly mixed in with the fish batter. I remember a medical officer giving us an eight gallon container of solution that we each had to drink a glass of in order to get it out of our systems. It seems the cook had told his assistant to get the baking powder from the store room and he made an error in which bag he picked up and threw in the pot.”
Wesley Desjardins, Chartwell Kamloops

“When I was 20 years old, I was in an apprenticeship program learning the tricks of the trade to becoming a qualified plumber. Also, at that age, I received a letter informing me that I had to be enlisted in the army. It was the usual age for someone to be summoned in the army, so I had no choice. When I received the letter, I was excited. I was excited to learn something new, but also to carry on my fathers’ legacy.”
Frank Ostronic, Chartwell Robert Speck

“Night patrolling became my forte, but my greatest disappointment came at the bank of the Senio River when I lost my dear friend, Private Haulde from Montreal. I also remember conducting a fighting patrol when we were caught in a rifle fight with enemy elements. I was wounded through the arm and was returned to England, where I discovered my two brothers, both also wounded and hospitalized.”
Bob Nuttal, Chartwell Conservatory Pond

“When I think back about that episode, I realize how fortunate we were to come out of it alright, as the seas were very rough while the storm was on. The bow of that sweeper just seemed to go up and up until it got to the crest of the wave. Then down it would plunge, the sea would wash over the bow. In the engine room, I could feel the vibration of the deck plates and I wondered if it was going to break apart. It was a tough old boat, but she held together. St. Christopher had to be sailing with us on that trip.”
Babe (Arthur) Therriault, Chartwell Elmira

Stories and recollections, similar to the ones above, can be found in the 2010 book entitled HONOUR, which is now available for download on Chartwell’s website. Featuring inspiring profiles and stunning images of 35 veterans who lived in Chartwell residences across Canada, the book is a wonderful reminder of the important sacrifices our veterans made to defend the values of justice, peace and security. To download the book and share with family and friends this Remembrance Day, click here.