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» Message from the Prime Minister (PDF file, 567 Kb)
In 2005, the Canadian War Museum opened the doors of its new building. Since then, nearly three million visitors have been able to admire its unique architecture and innovative exhibitions. See what makes this Museum so special.
Message by Fredrik S. Eaton, Chair of the Board of Trustees
The new Canadian War Museum opened its doors on May 8, 2005 with an important purpose: the new museum would inform Canadians about their military heritage, preserve artifacts of national significance, and encourage reflection on the service and sacrifice of our veterans.
As we mark the fifth anniversary in our new location, the Museum has become one of Canada’s most visited, and most valued, cultural institutions. It is also hailed as one of the country’s architectural treasures. Its design, by renowned architect Raymond Moriyama, has been described as exceptional, courageous and deeply evocative. The building’s low, arching profile — punctuated by a soaring copper fin pointing towards Parliament Hill — has become an iconic feature of the Ottawa skyline.
The Museum has welcomed nearly three million visitors to its exhibition galleries, which protect and present many of the country’s most important military artifacts. Most visitors are profoundly moved by the experience. “I learned so much about my country and my military,” wrote one visitor, expressing the views of so many. “I smiled, laughed, was in awe and in tears. Thank you.”
Museum visitors have learned how our military history has affected their own lives and the lives of others, how it has shaped the development of this country; and how it has helped define Canada’s role in world affairs.
They have also gained a new appreciation for what our veterans have endured and accomplished on our behalf.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I extend congratulations to the Museum’s management and staff on this fifth anniversary, and I offer a heartfelt thank you to the many volunteers and donors who have shared the Museum’s vision and contributed so much to its success.
A New Angle: 5 Architectural Attractions
|Walls: Textures and Angles||Copper Walls||Morse Code||Regeneration|
A Museum to Discover: 5 Personal Views
|Sarah Dobbin||Pierre Leduc||Anne-Marie Raymond||Tony Glen||Nelson Langevin|
Focus on 5 Treasures from the Collection
Saving lives in Afghanistan
|ARMOURED G WAGON|
On December 12, 2005, 90 km east of Kandahar, the explosion of an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) triggered by Afghan insurgents destroyed the front end of a Canadian military vehicle. The force of the blast throws the vehicle’s engine seven metres away. Yet, its occupants — three soldiers and a Canadian journalist — survived with relatively minor injuries. The armour plating on the Gelandewagen (G Wagon), a light utility vehicle manufactured by Mercedes-Benz Canada, saved their life. Had they been travelling in the “soft-skinned” vehicle previously used by the military, the Bombardier Iltis, they likely would not have survived. The G Wagon was introduced into Afghanistan in 2004 to better protect personnel from an array of threats including the explosive effects of IEDs. It is the latest example of the continuous evolution of military vehicles to accommodate changing field conditions and new technologies.
A “hidden” treasure
|OFFICER’S COATEE, CITY OF QUEBEC MILITIA|
When the acclaimed Shakespearean actor William Ian DeWitt Hutt died in 2007, he bequeathed to the Stratford Festival Archives one of his costumes: a type of military jacket called a coatee. At the time, the archivist wondered if it was in fact a genuine coatee and decided to check with the Canadian War Museum. The coatee was indeed authentic, having been made for an officer of the 3rd Battalion of the Quebec militia, between 1805 and 1812. How could the Museum be sure? First, the coatee’s original gold buttons were imprinted with the monogram of King George III and the title “Quebec Militia 1775,” which referred to the militia’s successful defence against an American attack on December 1775. Second, the black velvet lapels and cuffs were adopted by the 3rd Battalion in 1803. Finally, the two hand-sewn grommets on the right shoulder revealed the owner as a battalion officer.
Symbol of enduring love
|THE ROGERS TEDDY BEAR|
In 1916, ten-year-old Aileen Rogers sent to France a special gift for her father, Lieutenant Lawrence Browning Rogers of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, who was serving on the Western Front. Intended as both a good luck charm and a memento of home, Aileen’s gift was a small teddy bear. The following year, Lieutenant Rogers, along with thousands of other Canadian soldiers, was killed at the battle of Passchendaele. In one of his pockets, his comrades found Aileen’s teddy bear, which they shipped back to her family in Canada. Eighty-five years later, Lieutenant Rogers’ granddaughter, Roberta Rogers Innes, found an old briefcase. Inside was the teddy bear, along with letters and other war memorabilia. Roberta later donated the teddy bear to the Canadian War Museum, where it became one of the Museum’s most beloved artifacts.
The gift that changed lives
|LITTLE SUSSIE’S COAT|
War can bring people together in surprising ways. In the winter of 1944-45, Bob Elliott was a 19-year old soldier from Olds, Alberta, helping to defend the Allied line near Alphen, Holland. Bob’s unit struck up a friendship with ten-year-old Sussie Cretier, whose constant singing and laughter were a welcome respite for the homesick, war-weary Canadian soldiers. On Christmas Day, they expressed their affection with a gift that included a smart military-style coat. Made by a local seamstress from a grey army blanket, it also used buttons taken from the soldiers’ uniforms. Sussie, whose own coat was falling apart, was delighted. But the story does not end there. In 1981, Bob, recently divorced, went to Holland for his first visit since the war. He was met at the airport by Sussie, also recently divorced. Later that year, they married, and today they divide their time between Edmonton and the Netherlands. Sussie donated her special coat to the Canadian War Museum in 2006.
Remembering a great Canadian hero
|SHANKLAND MEDAL SET|
Robert Shankland was born in Ayr, Scotland, in 1887, and moved to Canada in 1910. At the start of the First World War, he joined the 43rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, as a private. In 1916, now a sergeant, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his courage during the battle of Sanctuary Wood, Belgium. In October 1917, Shankland, recently promoted to lieutenant, led a platoon of 40 men in the battle of Passchendaele, Belgium. After capturing and holding a trench line defending the approach to Passchendaele, he made his way alone through thick mud and German shelling to battalion headquarters to present plans for a counterattack with reinforcements. He returned to his platoon and led the counterattack. For his actions that day, Shankland was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.