The Social Studies Department had some exciting visitors this week, creating great opportunities for students interested in Canada’s military history. On Monday, January 25th, five officers from the Canadian Forces College visited Crestwood, sharing their experiences in Canada’s recent overseas missions, notably Afghanistan. Majors Dennis, Lajeunesse, Harvey, Dias and Barker represented all facets of the military and all spoke eloquently about serving Canada overseas.
Then on Tuesday, January 26th, many of the Canadian History 10 students were lucky enough to have Lorne Winer visit their class. Mr. Winer is a Jewish Canadian veteran of World War Two who recently turned 98. Mr. Winer spoke of his time in Europe, from being stationed in England to being involved in the liberation of France and the Netherlands. Other Crestwood students will soon be doing their own interviews, when we visit Sunnybrook and Baycrest – stay tuned!
Phil Harmon is an American veteran of the Second World War from Maine, where he presently lives in the town of Hollis. Originally from the Cape Elizabeth area, Phil grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though his family was fortunate to be spared many of its most negative impacts. By 1939, as events in Europe and Asia spiralled into war, Phil was attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where he ran cross country. But as the U.S. entered the war, Phil received his draft notice and reported for duty in 1943. Training took him to Missouri, and he was shipped to Marseilles, France, not long after D-Day. His unit made its way north, preparing to enter the Battle of the Bulge. And it was during that battle where Phil was wounded, soon after reaching the front lines. He spent several months in the hospital recovering from a chest wound, and by the time he was returned to his unit, most of the fighting was over. He spent several months in Europe during which time he met his sister in Paris; then he was shipped home, where he was happy to leave his soldier’s life behind him.
Phil was interviewed for this project by Scott Masters in December 2015.
Oral History Project January 3rd, 2016
Bill King served in the Canadian Forces from 1951-56. Bill grew up in Nova Scotia, against the backdrop of WW2. He remembers well the sacrifices of other family members who served in that conflict, and he considers them the real veterans. Bill’s service coincided with the Korean War, and although he did not go to Korea, he was decorated by the Korean government, for his role in the transhipment of supplies through his European base. Bill’s service took place in Europe, in both France and Germany, just as the Cold War was heating up. He has fond memories of his time in both nations, and considers himself lucky to have served alongside other NATO forces. At the end of his term, Bill resumed his life in Canada, taking a job with CP in Toronto. He remains active in the Legion, and we thank Helen Pearce and Legion Branch 11 for hosting this interview.
Oral History Project October 26th, 2015
Salut, my name is Mlle Phardis and I am teaching grade 4 and 5 French this year at Crestwood School. At the junior level I am focusing on increasing student’s ability to communicate in French by building on their ability to speak, write, listen, and read in a second (or even third) language. I motivate students to bring a positive attitude to class so they can have a great experience and actively participate in daily routines and activities.
My passion for French started coincidently enough when I was in grade 4. It was through this exposure to French that I found my talent for learning languages. Since then, it has been my goal to teach French to other students living in Toronto and to share my love for language and culture. To accomplish this goal I completed an Honors French program at York University, studied in Toulouse, France, and am currently working on completing my Specialist AQ in FSL (French as a Second Language). Although English is my mother tongue (as I was born in Toronto), I grew up speaking Greek at home, and eventually grew a liking to Spanish as well. For me, language teaching and learning is a pleasure and I enjoy sharing my passion with others.
Aside from language, this year at Crestwood I’ve already started coaching U10 Soccer, and I look forward to incorporating some Zumba and hip-hop dance into spirit days, to participate in this year’s Carnaval and to even have a French Café at the end of the year!
LCdr LeFresne enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces as a MARS (Maritime Surface-Subsurface) Officer in June 1997. After 4 Years at the Royal Military College (RMC), he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Military and Strategic Studies and was posted to Victoria, BC to complete bridge officer training. Upon completion of this training, LCdr LeFresne was posted to HMCS Charlottetown in Halifax, NS to proceed with Officer of the Watch (OOW) certification. During his tour with Charlottetown, he attained the Naval Officer Professional Qualification and sailed in numerous fisheries patrols and task group exercises. A highlight of this two and half year period was Charlottetown’s participation in the 60th Anniversary of D-Day celebrations held off the shores of France.
Upon completion of his tour with Charlottetown, LCdr LeFresne was assigned to the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School to complete training as an Under Water Warfare Officer, which is the position he served in HMCS Fredericton. Service in Fredericton also saw east coast sea time in multiple fisheries patrols and task group exercises as well as assistance to the RCMP in one of the largest drug interceptions in Canadian history. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in April 2012.
LCdr LeFresne remained in Victoria, BC and oversaw the development of technical and readiness trials for frigates completing the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) program. During this period he was heavily involved in the planning and preparation of Royal Canadian Navy’s participation in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014, the world’s largest maritime exercise.
LCdr LeFresne is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Defence Studies as part of the Joint Command and Staff Program at the Canadian Forces College. He lives in Toronto with his wife and 3 children.
LCdr LeFresne came to visit us at Crestwood, courtesy of the CFC, in March 2015, when he was interviewed by a host of students from different grades. Mindy Zhou and Doris Qiao took the lead in completing this project.
Oral History Project May 13th, 2015
Jim Shontaler was born in the Canadian west, growing up in the difficult days of the Great Depression. As there were some family problems, Jim spent many of his early years in an orphanage. With the war underway and with no firm direction before him, he joined up as soon as he was able, heading off to training and then overseas. Jim headed first to north Africa and Italy, to begin his “baptism under fire”. He were in the thick of it, right away, fighting through the defensive lines in Italy, where he was wounded. From there his unit was shipped north, and they participated in the liberation of France, Belgium, and especially the Netherlands, where Jim had many good experiencess. Jim’s memories of those times are clear, and his stories are ideal for Canadians looking to find insights in the minds of young Canadian men in the 1940s.
We met Jim in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed for this project in April 2015.
Oral History Project May 12th, 2015
Oral History Project April 20th, 2015
Oral History Project April 19th, 2015
Alan Forster was born in Toronto, growing up in the city’s east end during the Great Depression. From a military family, he joined up as soon as he was able, heading off to training and then to England. Shortly after the D-Day invasion, Alan headed to France, to begin his “baptism under fire”. They were in the thick of it, right away, fighting through Normandy and into Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany itself. Alan’s memories of those times are clear, and his stories are ideal for Canadians looking to find insights in the minds of young Canadian men in the 1940s.
We met Alan in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed for this project in April 2015. Crestwood students visited again in January 2018, this time filming Alan in HD!
Oral History Project March 31st, 2015
Bonjour! My name is Madame Martin and I am covering Madame Canrinus’ position as primary French teacher while she takes her maternity leave. Just like Madame Canrinus, I am using the AIM program to teach the kids.
I have a long history of french in my background, starting from kindergarten. Actually, it began even earlier than that – my father immigrated here from the south of France when he was very young. I grew up hearing a lot of what I call “Frenglish”. A mixture of French and English thrown together in no particular pattern, but simply by the choice of which language felt more natural when a certain thing needed to be expressed.
I was enrolled in French Immersion and was educated in all subjects through the French language. I valued my second language so highly, even as a younger person, that I incorporated it into my program of study at York University. I majored in Classical History – focusing mainly on Greece, Rome, and Egypt.
I am also running the Eco Team this year. On the weekends I volunteer at the Royal Ontario Museum, and felt I could bring much of what I learn concerning the environment to the kids at Crestwood. The Eco Team meets twice a week, and we discuss and plan projects to help Crestwood be a helpful contributor to the environment.
I am loving my stay at Crestwood – the kids and staff are remarkable and I am looking forward to many years at Crestwood School.
À Bientôt !!!
Susan Pasternak, born Sissi Friedman was 7 months old when the war broke out in September of 1939. She was born on February 1st, 1939 in Zambriow, which is in northeastern Poland. Her parent’s names were Mordechai and Sarah Friedman and Susan was their first and only child. Her father had his own bakery shop and they lived a good life, until one day the Nazis took all the Jews to the ghetto. Susan was fortunate enough to never see an extermination camp as her birth mother arranged for a Polish woman to hide the family, though not her father, who unfortunately was killed in the ghetto. Susan and her mother managed to sneak out of the ghetto and arrive at a Polish woman’s apartment. They lived there for three and a half years, under a table. It was covered however with a black cloth that covered the entire table and went all the way down to the floor so that they could not be seen by anybody. After those three and a half years, Susan’s mother wrote to her sister, Rosa Weinstein, who lived in Canada. Her sister then gave passage for them to come to Canada. On the way her mother had a heart attack and died, and Susan was then sent to an orphanage in France, and from there to Germany, where she stayed for two years. Her mother’s sister wondered what had happened to them, so she enlisted help from the international Red Cross. In May 1947, two years after the war had ended, her aunt sent passage to England; Susan then went from England to Halifax. She then met her in Halifax, making Susan one of the first children to cross the Atlantic after the war ended.
Susan spoke at Crestwood in December 2014, when she presented her story to Mrs. Pagano’s English 8 class.
Oral History Project January 21st, 2015
Frank Mendham was born in Toronto in 1924; like many his age he grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, dealing with the realities of day-to-day life. When the war came, Frank went into the cavalry, like his father before him. By the time of the Second World War, tanks had replaced horses. Frank spent time in England before heading over to France on D-Day; from Normandy, he and his regiment made their way through France and the Netherlands, into Germany.
We visited Frank at the Sunnybrook veterans’ Wing on February 27, 2014, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students Ahmed Izzeldin, Simon Yuan, and Jacob Gurdzy.
Oral History Project April 16th, 2014
John Hishon and his mother lived in the Yonge & Bloor area of Toronto, where his Mom worked extremely hard to make a living during the Great Depression.. When the war broke out, John trained on the Canadian Exhibition grounds, where at first they did not have any equipment and were laughed at. He eventually was shipped to England, where he saw firsthand the Battle of Britain. His squadron was wiped out at Dieppe, but John was lucky to escape this tragic event because he was injured at the time. He was sent to France after D-Day and was involved in the attack on Caen on the fourth of July, 1944. He advanced with the Canadian army in northwestern Europe, through belgium and Netherlands, through to VE Day. We met Mr. Hishon at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in November 2013, where he was interviewed by Steven Feng and Hunter Kell.
Oral History Project January 3rd, 2014
Bill Talbot grew up against the backdrop of 1930s Toronto. When his father, a World War One veteran, passed away, Bill dropped out of school to help his mother make ends meet. When the war came along, Bill enlisted, eventually finding his way into the First Canadian Parachute Regiment. Training took place in both the U.S. and Canada, and Bill was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, in addition to other camps. He made his way overseas and began to prepare for the inevitability of D-Day. Bill was among the first Canadians into France, on the night of June 5-6. His Battle of Normandy lashed for about one month, when a sniper’s bullet ended the war for him.
Bill came to us with Jack Reid; both men were interviewed in October 2013, with Bill sitting down with Liam Mayer, Nick Mennell, Antony Cook and Zach Brown.
Oral History Project November 12th, 2013
Charles Mann is a Canadian veteran of World War Two who served with the Black Devils. Originally from Port Hope, Charles and his family were affected by the Great Depression, like so many other Canadian families. Charles left school for work, but with the coming of the war, he enlisted in the army, and when they asked for men to sign up for special services training, Charles jumped at the opportunity, soon finding himself in the Second Parachute Battalion. From there, he went to Montana, where Canadian and American soldiers together went into the Special Services, later to be re-named the Black Devils. After the arduous training was complete, the first destination was Alaska, but the Japanese had left just weeks before the Devils arrived. He was then shipped off to Africa, and from there he saw combat in Italy and southern France; Charles welcomed VE Day in London, England.
Charles visited us in May 2013, where students Sarah Mainprize and Stephanie Erdman took the lead in his interview.
Oral History Project May 22nd, 2013
We met Max Bornstein at Baycrest Geriatric Centre in Toronto, where he is a resident. We learned about him through the Azrieli Foundation, as they have published his memoirs. Crestwood students Emma Myers and Sarah Mainprize interviewed Max at Baycrest in February 2013.
Max’s story is remarkable, and a singular one in many ways. He and his family travelled back and forth across the Atlantic many times in the prewar years: much of Max’s early life was spent in an orphanage in Canada, but events in his family saw them reunited in France in the prewar years. As the war began, the family made their way to southern France, where Max was detained – a 17 year old by then, he was a potential military recruit. He did manage to escape to Spain, but there he was ensnared by Franco’s government, and he spent a considerable amount of time in a concentration camp. Eventually he made his way back to England, and later to Canada – a veritable odyssey that saw him settle in postwar Toronto.
Oral History Project May 6th, 2013
John Manestar was born in 1922 in Croatia. He came to Canada with his mother because his father had come 6 years earlier, looking for work. The depression hit in 1929 right after they moved into their house. His family along with others had trouble with money, but they learned to make ends meet. John met a friend in Toronto and together they went to go sign up for the air force; this was a shock to his family, which had a naval tradition. He started off as a engineer in the air force. John went overseas, first to England and then to France. He did not see front line combat, but he was instrumental in keeping Canada’s planes in the air, and he did find himself in harm’s way a few times. When the war was over, John returned to Etobicoke and his family’s farm.
John was interviewed for theis project in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in March 2013 by Crestwood students Maddie Pringle and Katherine Charness.
Oral History Project April 24th, 2013
Paul-Henri Rips was born on October 23, 1929 in Antwerp, Belgium. He lived with his father Isadore, mother Faja and sister Sina. Paul described his years before the war as his “golden childhood”. There were mutterings of what was to come but his childhood was pleasant. On May 10th 1940 Belgium was invaded by Germany. Paul was woken up by anti-aircraft guns. Paul’s first thought was that there would be no school. Paul and his family, along with thousands of others of refugees fled into France. They reached the River Somme where German soldiers were stationed. These soldiers were young and kind. They told them to go home and that the war was over for them. New regulations and rules were passed for Jews. A curfew was enforced and Jews were forbidden to walk on sidewalks and had to wear a yellow star. From there, Paul and his family experienced the escalating severity of Nazi policies, as they ended up in jail, in the Malines and Pithviers camps, and ultimately were fortunate enough to go into hiding, where they awaited the end of the war.
Paul-Henri Rips came to us courtesy of the Azrieli Foundation, who published his memoirs a few years ago. He was interviewed for this project by Sydney Swartz, Lili Mancini, Sarah Mainprize, Lara Franklin, and Tristan Lim.
Oral History Project March 14th, 2013
Crestwood Preparatory College is proud to announce that Zachary Brown ’14 and Katherine Charness ’13 have been chosen as recipients of the 2013 Vimy Pilgrimage Award.
This year is the 95th Anniversary of Canada’s victory at Vimy Ridge. To help commemorate this important milestone, the Vimy Pilgrimage Award recognizes the actions of young people who demonstrate outstanding service, positive contributions, notable deeds, bravery or leadership.
The Vimy Pilgrimage award consists of a fully funded,week-long program in Vimy, France, to study Canada’s tremendous First World War effort. A 2 night stay in Paris is also included in this trip. A total of 20 students from across Canada have been selected for the program this year, and we are very proud announce that two of them are from Crestwood – please congratulate Katherine Charness and Zach Brown!
Roma Buchman is the grandmother of Crestwood graduate Ashley Bitton. When Ashley was in Mr. Masters CHC2D class 2006-7, we invited Roma to speak to the class. Roma is from Galicia, in Poland. When the war began, she found herself in a ghetto with the rest of her family. Her parents made the difficult decision to smuggle her and her sister out of the ghetto and into the care of nuns at a local convent. When it was feared they would be turned in, the nuns told the sisters to leave. With great fortune on their side, the sisters were able to re-unite with their parents, and they spent the remainder of the war in hiding. After the war, Roma and her family left Poland, emigrating first to France and then finally to Canada.
Roma was first interviewed for the Oral History Project in November 2009 by Crestwood students Jordyn Letofsky and Madison Brown. She visited us again in October 2012, when she spoke to Stephanie Erdman and Jacob Hamblin. In October 2016 we were again privileged to sit down with Roma; this time Mr. Masters took Sarah Swartz, Samara Black, and Sam and Georgia Gardner to visit her at her home.
Oral History Project January 9th, 2013
Myer Goobie is from East York in Toronto. He visited us in October 2012, when he was interviewed by students Antony Cook and George Giannopoulos. Myer served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War, specifically the Devil’s Brigade, a commando unit made up of American and Canadian soldiers. Myer saw action in Sicily, Italy, and France. Myer’s segment was videotaped by a representative from canadashistory.ca, and this segment can be seen in their archives as well.
admin December 4th, 2012
Bernard’s family originally came from Poland, but Bernard grew up in France not far from the Luxembourg border. When his father became concerned about the state of affairs in Germany, the family moved to southern France, in what would become the Vichy zone. When the family learned that the Gestapo was looking for Bernard’s father, they separated and went into hiding. Taken into a Catholic school, a young Bernard took on the identity Jacques Cardinal and became a messenger for the Resistance, a job he maintained through his early teens and most of the war. When that Resistance cell was discovered, he went back into hiding and re-emerged as Jacques Maurin. At this time Bernard was recruited by the Maquis, the armed branch of the French Resistance. He participated in several missions as the Allies began the D-Day landings to the north. After France was liberated, Bernard was fortunate to be re-united with his family members, all of whom had survived the war and the Jewish deportations out of Vichy. They made their way to the United States in 1949.
I met Bernard Mussmand, through my father George Masters. I was able to interview him at his home in Portland, Maine in December 2008.
Eva Lang is a child survivor from Belgium. When the war began she and her family found themselves in southern France, soon arrested under the Vichy regime. While her parents succeeded in getting most of their children to safety through the OSE, her parents and many family members were deported to Auschwitz. Eva spent most of the war on the run and in hiding. After the war she made her way to Israel and Canada, where she divides her time. We were fortunate to hear her words of tolerance courtesy of Baycrest, where she spoke to Amanda Lee, Jenny Son, Benji Baker, and Noah Levin in May 2011.
In 1942, after the Vichy regime started arresting Jews, the Engels attempted to escape France by going to Switzerland. On the border, they were caught, and shipped to a temporary prison. They would then be shipped to the Rivesaltes interment camp. At this time, the Vichy government had a policy of releasing children. While Julien, 9, and George, 5, would be released, their parents would be shipped to Drancy and then to Auschwitz. Julien and George would never see their parents again. Both brothers eventually made their way to North America, after being rescued.
Mr. Lloyd Queen served in the Canadian Army during the war. After training, he was commissioned as a ieutenant and sent to England. He went ashore in the first wave of the Normandy invasion and was in France for about a month before being deployed to the Netherlands and the Battle of the Scheldt. He did cross the Rhine into Germany before being returned to Britain, where he was decorated by King George VI. We visited Mr. Lloyd Queen at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in October 2008, where Crestwood student Eric Lee interviewed him in his room. He was also interviewed by Gr. 9 student Nick Andreoli in March 2009.
Larry Levy served in the Canadian Army in northern Europe during the war. After enlisting, training, and the overseas journey, Larry went ashore at Normandy and fought his way through northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Larry served with Signal Corps, and it was his task to locate enemy artillery. Larry brought many personal insights and mementoes to his February 2012 interview, where he sat down with students Alex Galperin, Natasha Hare, and Brandon Deeb. Larry returned in March 2013, this time with Daniel Henareh, Nasir Jamali, Saeed Foodazi, and Henry Lui. Larry is a great raconteur, and we are thankful to Historica Dominion for introducing him to us.
Vic Henderson was a tank man in the war. he went ashore in France on D-Day + 7 and fought through Normandy, the Netherlands, and into Germany. We met him in the Brookbanks neighbourhood, and he was kind enough to share his memories with Crestwood student John Shahidi.
Ed Forsyth is a Canadian veteran of WW2, having fought his way through France, the Netherlands, and Germany. We met Ed through the Royal Canadian Legion, where he is a proud member of the Brigadier O.M.Martin Branch at Peard Road. Ed is one of many members at that branch who have taken part in this project. Ed is also working hard to preserve memory too, as he is presently working hard to develop a Wall of Names, where the names of all Canadian soldiers killed in overseas conflicts will be featured.
Ed was interviewed for this project by Mr. Masters in April 2012.
George Carrigan is Mr. Masters’ grandfather. He was a veteran of the Great War, who went off to fight in that conflict with five of his brothers. George was born in rural Nova Scotia, and he often spoke of the war as an opportunity to escape the limited opportunities that awaited him. He was among the initial volunteers and he trained in the Sam Hughes camp at Valcartier and was among the Canadians to arrive in England and then in France. His division was shipped to the front at Ypres, where he was involved in the German chlorine gas attack of April 22, 1915. Wounded on several occasions, he was eventually discharged in May 1918 and sent back to Canada, where he re-settled in Nova Scotia before re-locating to Ontario. He died in 1991 at the age of 102.
In October 2014 Len Carrigan, George’s son, spoke to Mr. Masters, sharing firsthand accounts that he remembered about George Carrigan.
Ev Bluestein served in the American Army during WW2, specifically General Patton’s armoured corps. When they made their breakout from the Battle of Normandy, Ev and his comrades fought through France and into the Netherlands and Germany, helping to bring the European war to its conclusion. Ev came to us courtesy of Len Levy, a longtime contributor to Crestwood’s Oral History project. Ev spoke to Mr. Masters’ American History class in March 2011.