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#81 - ICS Canada News and Views Winter 2023/2024

Dear Fellow Canadian Churchillians:


A Warm Welcome

To new Friends of Winston Churchill – Lewis Dobrin; Stephen Hayward; Dan Jerred, Bob Ramsay and Eleanor Ryan.

Breaking News!   


The annual Dinner next year will be, as usual, at the Albany Club – date Thursday

May 9, - and the Speaker will be – the renowned Canadian author Charlotte Gray

– on her critically acclaimed, best selling book, “Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt.” The sons being Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. 


Full details on this exciting event will be provided early in the New Year.


Winston Churchill Under Attack


An update on the decision by Toronto City Council to delete the name “Dundas” from a street, subway station, etc. based on inaccurate historical research.


Again, our specific interest is that “Churchill” is on the list of “questionable” names.


The Highway 427, which southern part goes through City land, has some twenty “Dundas” signs. This Highway is a Provincial thoroughfare, but our investigation has discovered that City officials have not approached the Province to obtain agreement that the Province will also change their 427 “Dundas:” signs.


While this may seem like a minor point, other municipalities to the west such as Mississauga will likely object to the change, which could bring confusion to their residents. If the Province does not concur, the Mayor and politicians of Canada’s largest City will find themselves in a very embarrassing situation.

Finest Hour Inserts


Finest Hour #204: Churchill and England


ICS Canada subscribers will be receiving their copy of FH #204: Churchill and England in the coming days.  If you do not receive it, please Myra and she will arrange to have a copy sent to you.


Certain issues of the magazine include an insert advertising the International Churchill Society in the United Sates – please ignore.


This also applies to the generous Canadians who responded to an appeal for donations by the International Churchill Society and presumed that this would be going to the International Churchill Society Canada.


Renewal questions – please direct to our website:



By the Ghost Light: Memory, and Families – By R.H. Thomson


For many years, we have been a promotor of Robert Thomson’s extraordinary ambitious project to assemble the world’s first global memorial for everyone killed in the 1914 – 1918 war. So far, some four million names are recorded including sixty eight thousand Canadians - https://theworldremembers.org/


The genesis for this enterprise was Robert’s family history, and specifically the staggering fact that of his eight great uncles who served in the war, five were killed and the ones who survived bore the effects of disease and poison gas for the rest of their lives.


Now Robert has produced an extraordinary book, which details his family’s history by way of wartime letters in a deeply personal way.


The Book has received rave reviews – below is one from Tim Cook, prolific author and Chief Historian of the Canadian War Museum. –


“A searing exploration of how war haunts families, communities, and countries. Thomson makes visible the ghosts of the Great War, untangling themes of loss and longing, service, and grief. Millions of Canadians have a family link to the war that raged from 1914 to 1918, and this literary meditation will provide new insight into the way that war bites to the bone from generation to generation.” This book deserves a place in every Canadian’s bookcase.


Outreach Program


For the past 10 years ICS Canada has been awarding bursaries to students at a Scarborough, Ontario, High School. We have now decided to broaden and supplement that initiative with an education component.


Though still in its infancy we are in the process of developing a program where a pre-approved “Churchillian” talk by one of our volunteers, will be given at high schools in the Greater Toronto Area.


In conjunction with this initiative, some of the schools will be given an opportunity to award a $250 bursary, depending on the criteria established between ICS Canada and the school.


With the cost of the program and the bursaries, we ask you to consider contributing to this endeavour. 


Donation Options: Directly through the web site (the link below will bring you to our website)



Note: Donations in excess of $50, received by December 31st, will be eligible for 2023 Tax Receipts.


Winston Churchill’s Visits to Canada 

The Great Man’s Fifth’s Visit. December 29 to 31, 1941. To Ottawa.


“The Reich Government therefore breaks off all diplomatic relations with the United States and declares that under these circumstances, brought about by President Roosevelt, Germany considers herself at war with the United States, as of today.” These translated words were pronounced by Adolf Hitler on December 11, 1941.   


For almost two years, Britain in the form of Winston Churchill, and Canada in the form of Mackenzie King, had pleaded for the United States to become more directly involved in the war. However, Franklin Roosevelt had been constrained by Congress and the isolationist sector of the public.  But he had found ways to help, with the Destroyers for Bases agreement and the Lend – Lease Act.  Immediately that the United States was a belligerent Churchill sailed over on the Duke of York battleship to meet the President. Now the relationship had changed – no more pleading.  As Churchill said to General Brooke, there was now a different relationship, and he did not need to be as diplomatic. “Now she is in the harem we talk to her quite differently.”


Immediately on arrival on December 22, Churchill was flown to Washington to meet with Roosevelt. Talks commenced immediately and Roosevelt, in spite of the Pearl Harbour attack, kept to the agreement made at the Atlantic Conference – Europe First, which greatly relieved Churchill.


While intensive talks were underway Churchill wrote in The Grand Alliance, “Quite soon I realized that immediately after Christmas I must address the Congress of the United States, and a few days later the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. These great occasions imposed heavy burdens on my life and strength and were additional to all the daily consultations and mass of current business. In fact, I do not know how I got through it all.”  

 

Churchill spoke to Congress on Boxing Day, and three days later, he arrived in Ottawa.   Mackenzie King wrote in his diary, “splendid crowds at the station to welcome Churchill, batteries of cameras…Walked with him through the station to his car. He thoroughly enjoyed meeting the crowds and adopting characteristic poses with cigar, hat on the end of the cane, making the sign ‘V’ with his two fingers and generally stirring up enthusiasm like a ten-year-old.”  


The Toronto Star included a report by Gregory Clark headed: “Churchill is Mobbed by Thousands.” Clark went on to say, “Never in the history of the capital has there been such an unstemmed outburst of enthusiasm.”


At a luncheon in the Chateau Laurier Mackenzie King, in proposing Churchill’s health, gave an assurance that Canada would be at the side of Britain to the end.  King concluded by stating that God had given Churchill vision and courage and protected him, and that the prayers of Canada would be that he might continue to be given strength and endurance to share in the day of liberation of the oppressed nations.  Later that afternoon Churchill was sworn in as a member of the privy council of Canada.


The following Day, December 30, Churchill was driven from the governor general’s residence to Parliament Hill and the House of Commons, where he was greeted with tremendous applause.


He began his speech by referring to Canada as the senior Dominion and talked of the country. “Canada occupies a unique position in the British Empire because of its unbreakable ties with Britain and its evergrowing friendship and intimate association with the United States. Canada is a potent magnet, drawing together those in the new world and in the old whose fortunes are now united in a deadly struggle for life and honour against the common foe. The contribution of Canada to the war effort in troops, in ships, in aircraft, in food, and in finance has been magnificent.”


He went on with phrases, which have been included in many books of Churchill quotations. For example - “We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of cotton candy…Hitler and his Nazi gang, have sown the wind; let them reap the whirlwind.”


He described the horror experienced by countries that Germany had overrun, before proceeding to criticize the men of Vichy, in one of his most memorable illustrations - “When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, ‘In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.’ Some chicken! “And after the laughter died down, he added: “Some neck!”  which resulted in more laughter.

 

Churchill finished in typical fashion: “Let us then, sir, address ourselves to our task, not in any way underrating its tremendous difficulties and perils, but in good heart and sober confidence, resolved that, whatever the cost, whatever the suffering, we shall stand by one another, true and faithful comrades and do our duty. God helping us, to the end.”  


After completing his speech, Churchill sat for a photograph. The result was not only the most famous photograph of Churchill, but one of the most famous in the annals of photography.  In the International Churchill Society, Finest Hour,magazine of Spring 1997 in an article entitled The Portraits That Changed My Life, Yousuf Karsh described how it came about. He had been called by Mackenzie King, who over the years had become his patron and friend.  He was advised that Winston Churchill would be in Ottawa shortly to address the combined Houses of Parliament, and King wished Karsh to take his portrait.


Karsh was thrilled at the prospect, and on the big day, he nervously waited in the Speaker’s chamber for Churchill to be brought to him. “Soon I heard the approach of many feet and the mutter of voices. I switched on the floodlights. The group halted outside. Mr. King, walking arm in arm with Churchill, ushered him into the room. Churchill stood there defiantly, his bulldog like face bristled with surprise. ‘What’s going on?’ he demanded. I bowed respectfully, quaking inside. Sir I hope to be fortunate enough to make a worthy photograph of this historic occasion…Churchill turned to me. ‘All right,’ he conceded, ‘you may take one.’ He reluctantly followed me to where my lights and camera were set up. I offered him an ashtray for his cigar, but he pointedly ignored it, his eyes boring into mine. At the camera, I made sure everything was in focus, closed the lens and stood up, my hand ready to squeeze the shutter release, when something made me hesitate. Then suddenly with a strange boldness, almost as if it were an unconscious act, I stepped forward and said, forgive me, sir. Without premeditation, I reached up and removed the cigar from his mouth. His jaw tightened in belligerence, his eyes blazed. I clicked the shutter.”


Churchill was obviously surprised at the nerve of Karsh, but afterwards he relaxed and told Karsh he could take another. Actually, a search of the files of Library and Archives Canada some ten years ago discovered five more photos, four of which included King.   


Churchill took Karsh’s hand and said, “You can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed”.  


Back in his lab Karsh waited, “as anxiously as a father expecting his first child.  But I wasn’t quite prepared for the words of the technician as she watched the image materialized: “This is a triumph.’”  


A twelve-year-old boy, future Prime Minister John Turner, later recollected: “I was with my mother, who was a senior civil servant, and my sister outside the House of Commons, listening to the speech relayed by loudspeakers. Churchill was already a hero in Canada and there was a tremendous crowd.  Unlike many politicians, he came out after his speech and mingled with the crowd, a gesture that was deeply moving. As Churchill came down the driveway, my mother introduced herself, then introduced my sister and then me. The great man looked me straight in the eye and said., ‘Good of you to be here, good luck...’ That meeting, with the greatest person I ever met, became indelible, in my memory.”

 

The following day, News Year’s Eve, Churchill held a press conference at Government House. The Parliamentary Press Gallery decided that to assist Churchill in braving the wintery weather to present him with a fur cap.  Churchill responded to the gift – “There is nothing I shall value more than this. There is one thing I will say that people often think I am hot-headed. It fits beautifully and is large enough to allow for any swelling which may take place.”  


That same day the Ottawa Citizen recorded that as the train was leaving Ottawa “the great man stood in the observation car waving to the crowds, with his new fur cap.”

 

 (The next issue will include details of Churchill’s sixth visit, to the Quadrant Conference in Quebec City in August 1943).

 

We welcome your suggestions/comments –  Please e-mail, Terry Reardon Editor – reardont@rogers.com

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