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New Brunswickers in Wartime, 1914-1946

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Image credit: New Brunswick Museum Archives

The touching and dramatic stories of New Brunswickers during the First and Second World Wars, at sea, on land, in the air and at home.


Explore the lives of New Brunswickers during the First and Second World Wars, at sea, on land, in the air and at home. New Brunswickers in Wartime, 1914-1946 is an adaptation of the highly successful exhibition created by the New Brunswick Museum. Through a rich selection of artifacts, images, artwork and interactive components, this exhibition illuminates how wartime profoundly affected not only the communities of New Brunswick, but the rest of Canada as well. An exhibition from the New Brunswick Museum.


Whatever happened to…?

Several individual stories in New Brunswickers in Wartime, 1914–1946 focus on New Brunswickers who served in the conflicts and survived. The War Museum did some additional research into the lives of seven individuals to complete the stories originally included in the exhibition. This research has helped to highlight how war has subsequently shaped their lives.

Phillip Oland

Captain Phillip Oland of Saint John was serving as a Forward Observation Officer near Caen, France when his North Shore Regiment was attacked at night by infantry and Panther tanks of the 1st SS Panzer Division Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler. Oland called for artillery support, the Regiment heroically stood its ground and the enemy attack was repulsed.

Oland became one of New Brunswick’s most successful business leaders and passionate community builders.

He and his wife, Mary, raised two sons and a daughter. At his family’s Moosehead Brewery, he was president and chief executive officer for 50 years, expanding the business far beyond New Brunswick.

Olandcontinued to serve in the Canadian Army Reserve after the war, rising to the rank of brigadier-general. He also dedicated significant leadership, time and funding to community organizations, especially in his home town of Saint John. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970.

James Stewart

 Flight Officer James Stewart, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), was flying Typhoon fighter-bombers for the Royal Air Force when his aircraft was hit near Rouen, France. He escaped to Paris, was taken in by French Resistance fighters, betrayed to the Gestapo (Germany’s secret police) and imprisoned. After two months in Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany, he spent the rest of the war in two prisoner-of-war (POW) camps.

Originally from Scotland, Stewart, his wife and son settled in New Brunswick in 1952 because of his fond memories of training there during the war.In 35 years with Connors Bros. Limited, he marketed sardines globally and worked as a senior vice-president.

His compassion and energy as a volunteer have made a profound mark on his community. As “Granddad Jim,” he participates in a school reading program and teaches the significance of Remembrance Day. He advocates for cancer patients and helped establish the Hospice of Charlotte County. He also visits with seniors once a week.

Stewart received the Order of New Brunswick in 2002 and the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2003.

Margaret Pictou LaBillois

Aircraftwoman First Class (ACW1) Margaret Pictou LaBillois, from Eel River Bar First Nation, was a photo-reconnaissance technician at the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Station Rockcliffe in Ottawa. She worked on photographs to map the Alaska Highway, constructed during the Second World War to connect Alaska with Canada and the rest of the United States.

After her service with the RCAF, LaBillois chose to return home to Eel River Bar First Nation. For her, home meant her people, her culture and their land. She devoted her life to all three.

In 1970, LaBillois became the first woman to be elected a First Nation chief in New Brunswick. She and husband, Michael, raised 14 children and nurtured a community. She helped Eel River Bar reclaim land lost through development and through her teaching, helped foster a rebirth of the Mi’kmaq language, crafts and traditions.

LaBillois was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1996.


Medric LeBlanc

Medric LeblancSergeant Medric LeBlanc of Rogersville, New Brunswick served in 2nd Battalion Headquarters, Third Regiment of the First Special Service Force as a communications technician. He was badly wounded while laying phone lines at Anzio in February 1944 and invalided home to New Brunswick.

On his return, LeBlanc went to Saint Francis Xavier University. He studied French and earned a BA and an education degree. Teaching and his family shaped his life.

He and his wife, Mary, raised eight children. They lived in Alberta for 15 years and later returned home to New Brunswick. After retiring, LeBlanc studied writing, his former passion.

Medric LeBlanc was proud of his war service and stayed connected to the First Special Service Force, attending several of their reunions.


Jim and Vesta Morell

Jim Morell of Newcastle served overseas as supply chief of the North Shore Regiment. He carried a camera throughout the Second World War and took photographs of First World War graveyards, battle sites and memorials he encountered with his unit or visited while on leave. Morell also carried one half of a dollar bill during his wartime service—a symbol of interrupted love. The other half was back in New Brunswick, in his wife Vesta’s possession. They tore the bill in two before he left for Europe.

Jim and Vesta Morell reunited their dollar bill on his return home in the fall of 1945. Their love story continued through 60 years together, and the birth of their sons, Jim, Jr. and David. A love of community led the couple to become deeply involved in their local legion, and to help establish Meals on Wheels in Fredericton. They were also involved in the Kinsmen and Kinettes. Vesta Morell served with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and the local YW-YMCA.

A semi-professional baseball player before the war, Jim Morell helped found Little League ball in Fredericton where Morell Park is named in his honour.   


Gerald Carty

Carty Family

Newspaper story about the Carty family (Saint John), Evening Times-Globe, 19 May 1945. © Carty Family

Flight Lieutenant Gerald Carty served in Bomber Command, flying in Wellington and Halifax aircraft in Europe. He was part of a family tradition of military service to Canada. His father had served in the First World War in a construction battalion; his brothers also served in the Second World War.

Gerald Carty was a builder and a ground-breaker. As one of the youngest commissioned officers in the RCAF, he flew more than 35 bombing missions. After the war, he married June and they raised three sons and a daughter.

Carty later served as an air cadet commanding officer and helped found the Fredericton Flying Club. He earned the first electronic technician certification ever issued in New Brunswick and partnered in the establishment of the first cable company in Fredericton.

Carty had many friends, family members, gifts and interests. He taught aviation and gymnastics, sang and played saxophone, built model aircraft, tinkered, gardened and kept bees.