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Armistice Day 11/11/1918 from a Red Deer perspective in pictures and story

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Armistice Day 1918

One hundred and two years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (i.e. November 11, 1918), the horrific First World War finally came to an end. It was one of the most momentous events in history.

The outbreak of the War in August 1914 had been greeted with patriotic excitement. Eager young men flocked to the Red Deer Armouries to enlist. Many felt that if they did not join up as soon as possible, they would miss the “big show” before it was over by Christmas. (Click on any image to enlarge it and open gallery).

Before long, however, the reality of modern war began to set in. The Canadians saw their first major action at St. Julien in April 1915. This great battle involved the first mass use of poison gas as a weapon on the Western Front. The Canadians won high honours for their bravery and tenacity in the horrendous conditions. Nevertheless, the casualty rate was staggering, including many from Central Alberta.

The summer and fall of 1916 brought the epic Battle of the Somme. The first day’s assault brought 57,470 casualties for the British forces (still the worst one day loss of life in the history of the British Army). When the battle finally ended in November 1916, there were more than one million casualties. Nearly 50 young men from Red Deer and area lost their lives and roughly three times that number were wounded. Tragically, the stalemate along the Front continued.

1917 brought some great victories for the Canadian Corps. The best remembered is the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April. However, that triumph came with a great cost. 12 young men from Red Deer and area lost their lives in the first day’s assault and another 16 were killed during the rest of the battle.

That victory was followed by Hill 70. While that battle once again demonstrated Canadian skill and valour, more than 40 from Central Alberta became casualties.

Passchendaele was technically a victory, but the losses of life were so horrendous and the gains so limited that it is hard to consider it as such. The Canadians suffered 16,000 casualties through an incredible sea of mud to move the line less than 9 ½ km. Sir Winston Churchill later summed up the battle as “a forlorn expenditure of valour and life without equal in futility”.

In the spring of 1918, the Germans launched a huge, and initially successful, grand offensive. However, by summer, it had faltered. The Western Front ground into another stalemate.

Then on August 8, 1918, the Allied High Command launched a major offensive with the Canadians as one of the key units in the great assault. The successes by the Canadian Corps at the French city of Amiens were truly impressive. A huge hole was punched through the German defences.

German morale was permanently shattered. German General Eric Ludendorff described the commencement of the Battle of Amiens as the “black day of the German Army in the history of the War”.

The great Allied victory turned out to be the first of a string of major successes, collectively known as The 100 Days. The German armies were soon rapidly falling back from their frontal positions in Northern France and Belgium. The Canadians, as some of the very best assault troops in the Allied forces, often led the push forwards.

On September 27, 1918, the Battles of Canal du Nord and Cambrai commenced. By the time that the City of Cambrai was captured in October, the Canadians had scored one of the most impressive tactical victories of the War.

Once again, the costs had been enormous. From August to October 11, 1918, more than 40,000 Canadians had either been killed or wounded (20% of the total Canadian losses of the War).

Hence, the community greeted the pending news of the end of the War with as much of a sense of relief as one of rejoicing. Nearly 120 local young men had lost their lives. A great many others suffered wounds to their bodies and their minds. The terrible toll of the war was amplified by the fact that several of the returning veterans were bringing home a new scourge, the Spanish Influenza.

In early November, the Canadians were advancing towards the Belgian city of Mons, where the fighting for the British forces had commenced in August 1914. It was a highly symbolic objective.

On November 7, the local C.P.R. employees were given a half-day holiday on the rumour that a cease-fire agreement had already been signed. On November 8, one of the local weekly newspapers printed two editions in order to keep up with the rapid succession of announcements and rumours.

On Monday, November 11 at 1:30 a.m., word was received that all hostilities would cease on all fronts at 11 a.m., London time. Just as the fighting came to an end, the Canadians captured Mons. Thus, the Great War ended where it had begun.

The local papers quickly printed a special issue with the news. Mayor G. W. Smith declared a half-day public holiday. Plans were also quickly made for a civic celebration despite the Board of Health’s injunction against any public gatherings.

At 12:30 p.m., all the bells and whistles in the city broke out in a thirty- minute peal of rejoicing. Patriotic songs were played on a special calliope that had been set up at the Western General Electric steam plant.

A crowd of returned veterans, local dignitaries and ordinary citizens paraded through the streets with the Red Deer Community Band and the local Fire Brigade taking the lead. The throngs then gathered in what is now City Hall Park for a ceremony of celebration and thanksgiving.

There were numerous speeches and choruses of songs. Helen Moore Dawe and Ruth Locke led the crowd in the singing. A gramophone was used to broadcast a special address by Sir Thomas White, the federal Minister of Finance. Mayor G.W. Smith asserted in his speech that this was “the most important day in history since the death of Jesus Christ”.

In the evening, there was a huge bonfire on the City Square accompanied by the shooting of fireworks. City Council also treated a large number of veterans to a special civic banquet.

Tragically, the joys over the end of the War were quickly dampened by a renewed outbreak of the flu caused by the large public gatherings. By the time that the great pandemic abated towards the end of the year, the flu claimed 54 lives locally.

Nevertheless, people fervently prayed that they had just witnessed the end of “The War to End All Wars”.

Michael Dawe

This article was updated from it’s original publication date of November 11, 2018.

 

 

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Primary Care Network launches ‘Year of the Garden’ to encourage more activity and healthier eating

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By Mark Weber

Summer is here as is the joy of spending time outdoors – and an exciting Primary Care Network program has been designed with that goal in mind.

“The City offered us one of their garden plots on the north end in Normandeau,” explained Lynsey Hermary, a recreation therapist with the PCN, adding that space is being offered to any PCN patients or staff to use.

Essentially, it’s all about encouraging folks to get outside more, while of course growing healthy food and spending time in nature.

“It is located directly behind the Save on Foods on 67th St, access is along 68th (Nash St) and we are garden plot number B12.” The plot numbers are marked on the stakes.

“We recommend that everyone who uses it, marks off their section, and is then responsible for weeding, pruning and harvesting their area,” notes the PCN web site. It’s also an incredibly practical activity to take part in, with the ongoing high costs of food – particularly healthy food, added Hermary.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of room at the plot as well, and it’s been exciting to see people utilize the space. “This is a brand-new program – we just got it up and running (recently),” she said, adding that the City of Red Deer web site offers tips on the
gardening side of things as well.

A PCN-hosted Westerner pancake breakfast is also slated for July 20th

Looking forward into the summer, staff are also excited to announce they will be hosting a pancake breakfast on July 20 from 7 to 9 a.m. to celebrate Westerner Days. It will be held at the park beside the PCN office which is located at 5120 – 47th St.

“You’ll see our PCN staff and some of our physicians out flipping pancakes, and there will be some entertainment,” said Bonnie St. Dennis, office and IT administrator at the Red Deer PCN.

“There is no charge to attend, but donations are welcome which will go to support PCN programs involving the City’s vulnerable populations.”

Staff also wished to remind residents that they have the PCN bike corral each Saturday at the Farmer’s Market.

“We really encourage people to ride their bicycles down to the market, and they can then leave them for us to watch,” said Lorna Milkovich, the PCN’s executive director. “It’s a nice option to help people get out and get more active, too.”

And another key local event PCN staff are helping to promote is the Dr. Walter Reynolds Memorial run which is set for Sept. 18 th.

More information about the family-friendly event, which will be held at Bower Ponds, can be found at www.drreynoldsrun.ca. As the web site explains, it was in August of 2020 that, “A wonderful person was taken from us while working at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic.

“The community of Red Deer suffered a tremendous loss when Walter was taken from us. A hole in the hearts of many as he was loved by all who knew him, from his patients to his colleagues, friends and family. The purpose of this run is to remember Dr. Walter Reynolds and what he stood for: respect, love, kindness and community.

“In Walter’s name, ALL funds raised through this race will be donated back into the community which he loved. The Red Deer Hospice Society and Red Deer Youth Sports initiatives will be the organizations benefiting from this year’s event. Our goal is to see this race become an annual event and spread the love through the community.”

Also looking ahead, St. Dennis pointed out that although the PCN’s Health Cafes won’t be running again until the fall, anyone can check out the PCN web site (under the Patient Resources tab) and view previous Health Cafes which cover a wide range of health topics with experts offering guidance and information. Meanwhile, the local PCN offers a wealth of programs aimed at bolstering virtually all aspects of healthy living.

Primary Care Networks are made up of groups of family physicians working with other health care professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, exercise specialists, social workers, and mental health professionals.

Red Deer PCN supports the communities of Red Deer, Blackfalds and Penhold.

For more information, call the local PCN office at 403-343-9100 or check out www.reddeerpcn.com.

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Count down to Canada Day celebration at Bower Ponds

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News release from Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership

Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership and Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society Partners for Canada Day

The Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership (RDLIP) and Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society (RDCHS) is partnering for this year’s Canada Day event at Bower Ponds. This day is meant to celebrate ALL peoples of and in Canada and its diversity, and race relations among community members. It is also an opportunity for community members to reconnect after easing the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Canada Day is a multicultural event that inspires people to recognize and appreciate Canada’s cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and geographic diversity. It is hosted annually by the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society, who are working in collaboration with the Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership this year. This event began back in 1969 (formerly known as the Red Deer Folk Festival Society) and is held at the Bower Ponds location. We expect a strong turnout, a diverse line-up of performers and all the usual amusement and festivities reflective of the multiculturalism and beauty of our country.

“Proud to be your neighbour” campaign launched by RDLIP in the beginning of the year. It is an awareness campaign which aims to highlight good neighbourly relations between people of different backgrounds and to change people’s racist attitudes and behaviours.

Events of the day include multicultural performances on the main stage all day, 11am – 11pm. You can also enjoy food from 10 different cultural food booths starting from 11am. The Canada Day Opening Ceremony will kick off at 2pm with free cake following, about 2:30pm. Celebrations will close with an epic firework show at 11pm.

During the day, there are different activities held to provide opportunities for conversations and better understanding of race and culture. 2 sessions of the Human Library TM will be held between 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM- 4:00 PM in partnership with the Red Deer Public Library, wherein ‘human books’ are available to be ‘read’ by community members. The Human LibraryTM provides space for dialogue that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices. The human books will come from different parts of the world and will share their knowledge, culture and experiences. Proud to be Your Neighbour lawn signs and pins will also be distributed at the RDLIP booth.

“It is so exciting to be working with RDLIP on Canada Day and to share their anti racism campaign on ‘Proud to be Your Neighbor’. This year celebrates that Canada is appreciative of our multiculturalism and diversity”, says RDCHS Manager Delores Coghill.

“We are excited to collaborate with the RDCHS for this year’s Canada Day event. We want to continue to share stories about how diversity helps, how it makes our communities stronger. Canada Day will mark the end of the campaign and signals the beginning of the next phase of RDLIP’s anti racism work,” says RDLIP Interim Program Manager Kristine Bugayong.

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