About Us

About Us

Fall 2011

> A Message from the President and CEO
> War Art Masterpiece Comes Home To Canada
> An Unending Gift to Canada’s Veterans
> Training a New Generation of Museum Researchers
> Exhibition Sponsorship: Why Everyone Benefits


A Message from the President and CEO

Mark O'Neill - President and CEO
Mark O’Neill, President and CEO

When I first started working for the Corporation and its Museums 10 years ago, I was excited to be associated with a national institution with such a proud history, high profile and vital mandate. Today, that feeling endures. I am honoured to now serve as the Corporation’s President and CEO as we build upon our success and plan for the future.

First of all, and most importantly, thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement. Donors and sponsors play a crucial role in our success. Your support allows the Museums to preserve and share Canada’s remarkable history for the benefit of all Canadians, today and far into the future. Because of your help, the Museums are fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of our nation’s past and the achievements and sacrifices of its people. I thank you sincerely on behalf of the Museums and the millions of Canadians who benefit directly from our work — and your generous support — every year.

Our priorities going forward are to build on our reputation as Canada’s foremost Museums of history, and to increase our pan-Canadian presence and profile. We will do so in part by devoting more attention to the seminal events that have shaped our national experience and our identity as Canadians; by sharpening our research focus; and by establishing a wider and stronger network of partnerships with institutions and communities across the country. The overarching goal is to make our Museums ever more meaningful to Canadians through innovations in collecting, researching and presenting their history.

This promises to be an exciting and rewarding journey for the public, the Museums and our donors and partners. I hope we can count on your continuing involvement and support.

Mark O’Neill
President and Chief Executive Officer


War Art Masterpiece Comes Home To Canada

The Canadians Opposite Lens by Augustus John
The Canadians Opposite Lens by Augustus John (detail)

On July 2, 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came to the Canadian War Museum to meet veterans and their families and to unveil The Canadians Opposite Lens, a remarkable painting by celebrated British artist Augustus John (1878–1961). Twelve metres (40 feet) wide and 3.7 metres (12 feet) high, the unfinished First World War canvas depicts Canadian troops, refugees and prisoners of war against the battle-scarred landscape near Vimy Ridge, in the area of the French town of Lens. Although the most significant Canadian-commissioned painting from the conflict, it had never before been on public view.

The story of the painting is intertwined with that of the man who commissioned it — Canadian-born Lord Beaverbrook, who became a powerful British press baron, politician and philanthropist. He envisioned The Canadians Opposite Lens as the centrepiece of a majestic war memorial art gallery in Ottawa. The gallery was never built and, as a result, Augustus John never finished the painting. When he died in 1961, it was still in his London studio. Sold at auction, it disappeared into private hands for a half-century.

Its recent acquisition, which completes the War Museum’s collection of major art works commissioned for the war memorial art gallery, was made possible by the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation’s National Collection Fund—and by generous support from the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation. The Foundation has long been a major donor to the War Museum.

Donors Play a Crucial Part

The National Collection Fund, which is supported by donations, was critical to the acquisition. “Great artifacts and art works that tell the story of Canada’s history are still out there,” said James Whitham, Acting Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “Donations to the Fund help the Museums acquire these treasures so that they remain a part of our shared heritage.”

A Public Restoration

Before its acquisition by the War Museum, The Canadians Opposite Lens was attached to two walls of a music room in a home in the Chelsea district of London, England. To fit the display space, it had been cut into two main panels and a smaller panel to accommodate a door. “Fortunately this had been done carefully, with concern for protecting the painting,” said Whitham.

The Museum intends to reassemble and restore the painting in a public area, although the exact location has yet to be determined. “It has to be a large space because we want visitors to be able to back up and view the whole work,” Whitham explained.

Dr. Laura Brandon, War Art Historian for the Museum and the person who relocated the painting in the early 1990s, believes that visitors will be impressed. “Because this painting is unknown, it shocks you into a fresh perspective on how people saw the war in 1919,” she said. “And because it’s unfinished, I feel it’s a metaphor for how we continue to revisit Canada’s role in the First World War.”

The Canadian Opposite Lens by Augustus John / Les Canadiens face à Lens d'Augustus John The Canadian Opposite Lens by Augustus John / Les Canadiens face à Lens d'Augustus John The Canadian Opposite Lens by Augustus John / Les Canadiens face à Lens d'Augustus John The Canadian Opposite Lens by Augustus John / Les Canadiens face à Lens d'Augustus John


An Unending Gift to Canada’s Veterans

Operation Veteran
Operation Veteran

Dr. Paul Kavanagh is so passionate about the importance of honouring Canada’s veterans that he has made a gift that will benefit veterans, and indeed all Canadians, far beyond his lifetime.

Kavanagh, a Montréal periodontist, has donated a life insurance policy, one of many planned giving options, to the Canadian War Museum. The proceeds of the policy will enable the Museum to support in perpetuity a program called Operation Veteran, which Kavanagh founded after a moving encounter with a Second World War veteran at the War Museum cafeteria in April 2009.

“He was just buying soup and a coffee but he didn’t have enough to pay,” Kavanagh explained. “There was a long line-up and people were becoming impatient. He was in tears. I had to do something. So I paid for his meal.”

Soon afterwards, Kavanagh founded Operation Veteran to ensure that on November 11 (when we celebrate Remembrance Day) no veteran would lack the funds for a meal at the Museum. That year, a total of 66 veterans benefitted from meal vouchers at the Museum’s cafeteria. In 2010, the program was extended to every day the Museum is open and more than 2,000 veterans have benefitted to date.

Educating Our Youth

The program also helps educate young people about Canadians’ debt to our veterans. By supporting the development of online modules about diplomacy and peacekeeping, Operation Veteran enriches the already considerable resources on the War Museum website. And on November 11 each year, Kavanagh invites private and public schools that raise funds for Operation Veteran to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa and to tour the War Museum. All expenses of these visits are covered by the participating schools.

What inspires Kavanagh’s tireless commitment to veterans? “My dad enlisted in 1943 when he was only 17 years old,” Kavanagh said. “He was the youngest of seven boys in his family and four of the boys enlisted. His father had fought in the First World War. On my mother’s side of the family, my uncle William Henry Cardy was one of only seven Canadians to be cited for conspicuous gallantry in Second World War. Another uncle, Padre Joseph Cardy, won the Military Cross and retired as Chaplain General (Protestant) of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1974. Also, two of my cousins were killed in action in 1943, one of them on November 11.”

For Kavanagh, donating an insurance policy was the ideal way to leave his own legacy. “It allows me to make a major gift to the War Museum that I couldn’t otherwise afford,” he explained. “And the policy premiums are tax exempt. It’s a great option.”

What’s Next for Operation Veteran?

Dr. Paul Kavanagh is continually enlisting more private and public schools in Operation Veteran because he believes education is critical to the program.

Last year, students from eleven schools came to the National Capital Region on November 11 for the wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial and a tour of the War Museum. This year, students from more than thirty schools—from Vancouver Island to St. John’s, Newfoundland—will attend.

“These students come to Ottawa and they get to meet vets,” said Kavanagh. “They ask questions like, ‘How old were you?’ ‘How were you trained?’ ‘Where did you ship out?’ ‘Were you scared?’ It’s that one-to-one contact that makes it so personal. I believe that if young people know our history and respect our vets, they will value and take care of our country.”

If you’d like to learn more about donating an insurance policy or other planned giving options, contact Claude Drouin, Director of Philanthropy, at 819-776-8625.


Training a New Generation of Museum Researchers

Service dress coatee - CWM 19810396-001
Service dress coatee belonging to Col Robert Hoyle, Rebellions of 1837. CWM 19810396-001
© Canadian War Museum

In 2007, the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation created the Research Fellowship Program to help fill an educational gap. Researchers at the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization had noticed that very few professors in Canada were teaching graduate students to study and present to the public the wealth of artifacts and other kinds of cultural information contained in museum collections.

“It was a problem because museums need researchers trained in using collections to explore and explain Canada’s history,” said Moira McCaffrey, Vice-President of the Research and Collections Branch at the Museum of Civilization.

The Research Fellowship Program funds senior Canadian graduate students or recent post-graduates for one-year research projects using the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum collections, which together comprise more than five million items including artifacts, historic archives (documents, photographs, films and recordings) and works of art. The program is supported in part by donations.

“Fellowships are a remarkable opportunity for young scholars,” said McCaffrey. “They benefit both from the unique extent and range of our National Collection, and from the guidance of a curator or senior researcher throughout their project. But we gain as well,” McCaffrey added. “The Research Fellows bring new ideas and fresh perspectives about the Collection, so they challenge us. And, ultimately, all Canadians benefit through the training of a new generation of highly skilled researchers committed to making museum collections more accessible and relevant to the public.”

Making Canadian History Come Alive

The titles of recent Research Fellow projects indicate both the wide range of topics and the emphasis on communicating to the public. Here are three examples:

  • Fighting on Wheels and Tracks: Mechanization in the Canadian Forces from the Great War to Afghanistan
  • Inside the Classroom Walls: The Material History of Schooling in Canada
  • The History and Use of Canadian Hooked Rugs and Mats, as Told Through the CMC Collection

Some projects are proposed by Fellows; others are proposed by the Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum curators and historians in consultation with Fellows. The research possibilities are virtually endless, covering general and military history, archaeology, Aboriginal history and culture, Canadian folklore, music, design, clothing, sports and many other subjects.

“Having someone come in for a year to learn a great deal about a specific type of artifact enriches our knowledge and strengthens our research capacity,” said McCaffrey. “The Fellows help us understand how to use the Collection in new ways and how we can develop it in the future.”

If you’d like to make a donation to help more Research Fellows participate in the program, please call the Development Department at 819-776-8625. You’ll truly me making a difference.


Exhibition Sponsorship: Why Everyone Benefits

Subaru 360 Ladybug - IMG2011-0138-0004-Dm
Subaru 360 “Ladybug”
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, photo Steven Darby, IMG2011-0138-0004-Dm

Inside the exhibition JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, people clustered around a tiny, but elegant 360, the first automobile mass-produced by Fuji Heavy Industries’ Subaru division. Nicknamed “the ladybug,” the inexpensive, but innovative car gained worldwide popularity in the 1960s. In the main lobby outside the exhibition, people crowded around another elegant and innovative vehicle—the 2011 Subaru Legacy. It’s a striking illustration of the exhibition’s theme: the creativity and continuity of Japanese design.

It also helps explain why Subaru Canada is a natural fit as Presenting Sponsor for the exhibition. Indeed, the exhibition curator chose the 360 as an artifact before Subaru Canada decided to invest in exhibition sponsorship.

“Innovation through continual improvement has always been key to the success of Subaru,” says Ted Lalka, the Vice-President of Product Planning and Marketing for Subaru Canada, “and this exhibition helps put the Subaru story into the larger context of how Japanese innovation is inspired by a rich tradition. This exhibition shows us where we came from and challenges us to become better.”

Two-Way Opportunities

Sponsorship is an opportunity for the Museums to gain much-needed financial support to produce exhibitions of the highest calibre, and to maintain excellence in the many ways that they preserve and promote Canadian history. For companies, sponsoring such a popular and respected national institution is an engaging way to reach their target audiences and promote their brands.

“Sponsorship support added visibility and relevance to the Japan exhibition and ultimately made the whole experience more accessible to visitors,” said Rachael Duplisea, Director of Partnerships and Events at the Museum of Civilization. “It is an example of a win-win for all, with the Presenting Sponsor getting to display a new Subaru in Canada’s most visited museum and associating itself with a gorgeous exhibition in a world-class museum that Canadians are proud of.”

The exhibition’s Supporting Sponsor, Anritsu Electronics, a Japan-based global provider of communications technologies, was proud to underline its 115-year tradition of innovation by sponsoring the show. Gifts from donor organizations were essential in making the exhibition a reality. For example, some of the transportation, design and installation costs for JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. were covered by three organizations that promote Japanese culture around the world—The Toshiba International Foundation, The Commemorative Organization for the Japan World Exposition ’70 and The Japan Foundation.

A Light in the Darkness

Coming so soon after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. has an especially deep resonance. Despite the extremely difficult post-tsunami conditions, the Museum’s Japanese partners insisted that the exhibition open on schedule. The exhibition demonstrates Japan’s long history of resilience and creativity.



Kudos to one of our readers who caught an error in our cover story about King Edward VIII’s Vimy Pilgrimage Badge. We referred to “the recently crowned King”; when in fact, Edward VIII, who abdicated in December 1936, was never crowned. Our apologies.

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