On Remembrance Day, we remember those who served and died to preserve our freedoms. It’s also a time to remember family, relatives and friends who weren’t on the front lines but served to support the soldiers who were.
Alberta author Faye Holt spoke with residents at United’s two communities about Albertans who served in various wars bringing photos, insights and stories to punctuate the history talks. She touched on western Canadians at home and abroad who were involved in the Boer War, First and Second World Wars and Korean War.
“This time of year, it’s important to think about all of the men and women we have known, and how military service at all levels impacted them,” said Faye.
She pointed out that Canadians have a long and involved history in military service, peacekeeping functions and disaster relief.
“When we think about it, we all have stories to tell about family members who served or continue to serve in the military in various capacities, and it’s important to acknowledge those who died and the many others who have served. Think about the people who fled Europe with almost nothing to find peaceful lives in Canada. That continues today because of the war in Ukraine.”
Faye recounted some of the stories of famous Albertans who served and went on to careers after the wars ended. “There are many layers to military service. When war happens, almost everyone is affected in one way or another. For example, think about the Canadian internment camps in both world wars for Japanese-Canadians and others, and how their families were affected by the war.”
Prompted by Faye’s presentation, United residents recounted their experiences and family ties to military service, and experiences living through war times.
Resident David Ballard remembers his cousin Alfred Carter, who was born on the upper reaches of Fish Creek near Calgary, and became a flying ace during the First World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross after 17 missions for the Royal Naval Air Service in England. He flew the Sopwith Pup and Sopwith Camel, both biplanes, and the Sopwith Triplane, which today is housed in The Calgary Hangar Flight Museum.
“I was very surprised to see his triplane in the museum,” said David, who visited the museum as part of a United Active Living excursion. “When he came back to Canada he served as a forest fire spotter in Kananaskis, and then moved to Victoria where he started a car dealership. He passed away in 1986. He was an important part of our family, and an important person in Canada’s history, and I think about him often.”
Another resident, Hugh Balkwill, recount his family’s military service. “We had three sons serving in the U.S. military. They weren’t involved in combat and have all retired,” he said. “I also remember five cousins who served in World War Two. A couple were taken prisoner, but all survived the war.”
Residents Nick and Diane Jongeling were children in Holland during the war. “I remember the concerns of my family and neighbours that the dykes would be destroyed and flood our homes,” said Nick, who also remembers the food shortages. “I had an older brother who would go out looking for bird nests and check them for eggs,” said Diane. “We would go out to gather tulip bulbs for meals. It was a difficult time.”
“I was quite young when the war started,” recalled Nigel Way. “All of my family served in the British military. I lost a brother, who flew a Spitfire in the Royal Air Force. It’s absolutely important that we remember those who lost their lives. I have great admiration for those in the military today. War changes a person, so it takes great courage to be part of the military and ready to serve.”
Remembrance Day services to honour the those who made the ultimate sacrifice are being held in both communities.
Photos by United Active Living. Videos by Sherana Productions.
Speak with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!