Heller, Mickey

Mickey Heller was born November 3, 1921 in Toronto. Born into a large Jewish family, he grew up in the city’s Bathurst-Harbord neighbourhood against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the prevalent ati-Semitism of the time. When the war came, Mickey opted for the RCAF. He went through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Bergstein, Bunny

Bunny Bergstein was born April 1, 1924 in Toronto.  His parents had emigrated to Canada in the period after the Great War, fleeing anti-Semitism in Lithuania and Galicia.  They raised their family in downtown Toronto, where Bunny attended school and busied himself with his friends, playing ball in the local playground.  By the time Canada

Kendall, Fred

Fred Kendall was born in Woodstock, Ontario on March 7, 1927.  His father was a Great War veteran who ran a cartage company, so even against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the large family (Fred had eight siblings) did well.  Fred joined up when he was in Grade 10 – and only 16.  Three

Graham, John

John Graham was born February 25, 1921 in Toronto.  He grew up in a large family in the western end of Toronto’s downtown, attending the public schools and playing ball at Christie Pitts.  John was able to graduate Grade 13 at Bloor Collegiate, after which time he went into the RCAF.  Basic training followed, and

Fitzsimmons, Douglas

Douglas Fitzsimmons was born July 22, 1924 in Toronto.  He grew up in a large family in the city’s east end, in the Gerrard and Woodbine neighbourhood and attended the local Catholic school.  Doug’s father was a Great War veteran who went on to a successful career as a salesman, so the family was sheltered

Hoy, William

William (Bill) Hoy was born in Welland, Ontario on January 30, 1924.  His family had emigrated to Canada from Britain and settled in the Ottawa area, but by the time of Bill’s birth they had settled in Welland, where Bill’s father did his Great War service, guarding the Welland Canal.  Bill grew up against the

Dingle, Durwin

Durwin Dingle was born August 6, 1926 in northern Saskatchewan, though he grew up in Wawota, in the Qu’Apelle Valley in the southern part of the province.  Durwin was one of six children, so he grew up doing many chores around the family property, especially during the difficult Depression years. Durwin’s father was an educational

Goldman, Ralph

Ralph Goldman was born in Iwaniska, Poland on July 25, 1921.  He came to Canada as an infant, early in the 1920s, and he grew up in downtown Toronto against the backdrop of the Great Depression.  The economic situation forced him to leave school when he was only 14, and he went to work to

Reid, Brenda

Brenda Reid (nee Cruikshank) was born August 24, 1924 in Beirut, Lebanon.  Her father was a doctor at the American University in Beirut, and Brenda attended the community school there; the family – including her mother and two younger sisters –  lived there in relative peace until the war.  In 1940 France came under the

Rohmer, Richard

Richard Rohmer was born January 24, 1924 in Hamilton, Ontario.  His parents divorced when he was young, so Richard recalls growing up between the two households and dealing with the consequent difficulties.  He attended several schools in southwestern Ontario and by his teen years – coinciding with the start of the war – he was

Oral History Project – Don White

Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Masters’ Grade 10 History students are meeting with World War 2 veterans every Sunday over Zoom, as part of their studies of this important period of Canadian and world history.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for students to meet and interact with the men and women of this generation! Last week we met

Gladstone, Sidney

Sidney Gladstone was born July 18, 1925 in Toronto.  He grew up in the city’s old Ward neighbourhood, though he remembers moving around a lot when he was young, and attending many different schools.  Sid’s grandparents had emigrated to Canada at the turn of the century, leaving behind the limitations and pogroms of Poland to

Atkinson, Ken

Ken Atkinson was born April 18, 1925 in Sunderland, England.  His father was a veteran of the Great War who enrolled his son in the Air Cadet Corps between the two wars, and Ken’s father remained part of the Home Guard once the Second World War began, watching the skies for signs of the Luftwaffe. 

Gord, Marvin

Marvin Gord was born December 31, 1920 in Toronto, Ontario.  Marvin grew up with his mother, raised in a secular Jewish family, first in New York and then back home in Toronto.  Marvin delivered papers and worked at a local Loblaw’s, and after he graduated high school he began an apprenticeship to prepare for a

Dodds, Richard

Richard Dodds was born November 22, 1925 in Toronto, Ontario.  He grew up in the city’s west end, where he attended Humber Park Public School and later Humberside Collegiate, where he played sports in all seasons.  His father raised horses – racing was popular in interwar Toronto – so the family was insulated from the

Remembrance Day (Nov. 11)

Today is November 11 – Remembrance Day.  Today we remember all the veterans who have sacrificed for Canada.  We also remember Bob Middleton, who passed away last month.  Originally from Toronto’s east end, Bob was a proud Canadian who served in the RCAF during the Second World War. Bob grew up in the Beaches neighbourhood

Sinclair, Reuben

Reuben Sinclair was born December 5, 1911, and students had the chance to do a zoom interview with him in October 2021, making him the oldest veteran we have interviewed for this project – 109 years old at the time!  Reuben grew up in the small farming community of Lipton, born to Jewish parents who

Standing, Gord

Gord Standing was born June 23, 1921 in Ottawa.  His father was a city fireman, so Gord remembers that the Great Depression was not as difficult for his family as it was for so many others.  He had a typical childhood from the time; Gord played ball and went swimming and cycling and fishing with

Zavitz, Jack

Jack Zavitz was born June 18, 1924 in Windsor, Ontario.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the early part of the war, and when he finished high school he found himself in the RCAF, where he was pegged as a mechanic and trained for ground crew duty.  Jack spent time

Bays, Jim

Jim Bays was born January 20, 1918.  He grew up in the Christie Pitts neighborhood in Toronto, where he attended Central Tech.  Jim grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, so he and his friends made do, playing soccer and softball, and helping their parents where they could.  When the war came, Jim

Adam, Wallace

Wally Adam was born in Winnipeg during the Second World War, where his father was serving in the Army Pay Corps.  He grew up there, and decided to join the RCAF Reserves in his own right when he was in high school. After university, Wally enlisted in the RCAF, serving during the Cold War years. 

Sayers, Pete

Pete Sayers was born January 9, 1933; he grew up on Canada’s west coast, in Nanaimo, British Columbia.  Pete remembers growing up in a time of war, watching the soldiers practice live fire exercises, and he also remembers the internment of Japanese-Canadian neighbours as wartime paranoia grew.  Blackouts and the reality of total war were

Fraser, Bill

Bill Fraser hails from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, where he was born in 1940.  His father and uncles served in the Second World War, and Bill would follow them into the service, albeit in a very different time.  Bill was part of the Canadian Forces during the Cold War;  he joined the RCAF out of

Lett, Ken

Kenneth Lett was born July 13, 1923 in Carp, Ontario, a small farming village to the west of Ottawa.  He worked the land and would go to the Byward Market with his mother when he wasn’t playing hockey or attending school.  When the war came, Ken and his brother opted for the RCAF.  Ken went

Brewster, George

George Brewster was born April 5, 1923.  He grew up in New Brunswick, the son of a Great War veteran who had enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps.  After the war his father worked for the railroad, managing to keep food on the table even during the difficult days of the Great Depression, a time

Lunn, Rae

Rae Lunn was born March 29, 1920, on a farm outside of Edmonton, Alberta.  He grew up during the difficult years of the Great Depression; he remembers that his family was fairly self-sufficient, but he wanted to help, so he left school early to work at another farm.  War clouds were forming in Europe during

Patrick, Ian

Ian Patrick was born January 29, 1938, in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  He and his siblings grew up in the shadow of war, as St. John’s was a busy port city during the Second World War.  His father was a railroad machinist who worked in the dockyards:  his war was spent on the home front, working

Morgan, William

Bill Morgan was born April 23, 1925 in Consett, England, a small city on the east coast, not too far from Newcastle.  Bill’s mother passed away when he was just five, and at that time he moved in with his grandparents and aunts, and his father’s role in his life diminished.  Bill grew up an