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SC Rewind: Remembrance Day

Published: November 11, 2017 9:57 am ET

Last Comment: November 15, 2017 7:21 am ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith writes about Remembrance Day and what a special day it is for all Canadians. His story includes some personal recollections connected with November 11th.


Today is a very special yet sombre day on the annual calendar. It is Remembrance or Armistice Day as I first remember it. In the U.S. I believe they call it Veterans Day. It is a day that is set aside to recall and honour the many people who fought or otherwise served our Country, to preserve and protect our Freedom and Democracy. Over the last three centuries, many people have sacrificed their time and energy; many even gave up their lives. The time honoured saying "Lest We Forget" is a reminder of how important our remembering really is.

I start out each day by reading the paper, and my first visit is usually to the obituary page. It's just a habit that has been observed over the years. There is scarcely a day that does not mention the death of a person who served in the military. By now because of the passage of time, most veterans of WW II are well along in their years. Their numbers are dwindling quickly, but their deeds live on. Just within the last week I read of the passing of a lady in her late 80's. Listed within her immediate family was mentioned the loss of two brothers who died in WW II. She would have never really known them.

Each time I read the obituary and often see the picture of a then young man or woman in uniform, my heart goes out to them and their family. When I think of the sacrifices they made and for many the enduring effects War had on the rest of their lives, I am moved. As a very small child I can recall the Post War period when families were putting their lives back together as people returned from duty in the service. I also recall with sadness those whose loved ones never returned. In later years, a wave of immigration from Europe brought many newcomers to our communities and youngsters joined our schools.


​Each year on November 11th most communities hold special commemorative ceremonies to recall the contributions of past heroes.


A scene from World War II showing a group of Canadian Army soldiers ​

Remembrance Day is special to me for a couple of other reasons.

I was indeed privileged to work with a man with special ties to Remembrance Day. His name was Victor (always "Vic") Herod. He was born in our nation's capital Ottawa on November 11, 1918; the first child born in Canada following the cessation of WW I, thus the choice of his first name. He was a quiet and unassuming man who seldom if ever spoke of this coincidence of fate. This was just his way and seemed to be how most veterans were.

When someone mentioned anything about his birth date Vic smiled and invariably changed the subject.

When WW II broke out in 1939, he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force where he served admirably. Vic was a consummate gentleman and a shining yet very quiet example of our Country's war heroes. As a final coincidence, he passed away on November 10, 1994 just one day short of his 76th birthday and his rather famous birth date.

​Many people involved in harness racing were called to go to War. It was a time when the sport was literally "put on hold" for a number of years. In addition to so many participants being called away, numerous Fairgrounds were converted for wartime use and the facilities were not used for racing. I can recall reading in old racing journals that during wartime soldiers on leave would at times attend the races and what joy their visits would bring. Also old race day ads mentioned that all service people would be admitted free of charge.


Hoot Song with Ralph Baldwin, the great horseman from Saskatchewan who served overseas and was a decorated infantry soldier.

​A large number of ​horse people served bravely in both WW I and WW II as well as other conflicts. I do not have a comprehensive list but I know a lot of people gave their all. One person who comes to mind is the late Ralph Baldwin, a native of Lloydminster, Sask. Although he started his life's calling in Canada, he went on to one of the great careers in the U.S., racing some of the finest horses of his era. During the Second World War he served as a combat infantry-man, winning the Bronze Star twice, and earning three European Theatre battle stars. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 66 and is today remembered for his many achievements in the sport as well as his war heroics.



​In the fullness of time, it has become so obvious to me what a great Country we live in. Let us all pause for just a moment today and offer our thanks to these brave souls and also pray that we will never have to go to war again.

I have one last special tie to November 11 each year and to that I say Happy Birthday Linda to my loving wife born on this 11/11 date ?? years ago!!

Who Is This?


Can you put a name on these two individuals? The correct answer will appear during the coming week.

November 15, 2017 - 7:21 amThe two people in this week's

The two people in this week's photo were correctly identified by a couple of readers as Jack Gordon and Shirley McLean in her silks . I believe this photo was taken during a special "Powder Puff " race in which Shirley was a participant . While she was not a regular driver she could certainly handle the reins when called upon. In addition to her duties with the family horses she also worked in the mutuels at one time. Unfortunately she died at a fairly young age. Jack passed away in 1970 .

November 11, 2017 - 8:10 pmI don't know the lady but

I don't know the lady but that is JACK GORDON on the left.

November 11, 2017 - 8:05 pmJack Gordon and Shirley

Jack Gordon and Shirley Maclean

Worked with Bob Silliphant in the early sixties, he was a great horseman, a real mechanic and a tough man. He and my Dad would often share war stories. Bob was training horses out west and when war broke out he said they turned the horses loose in the prairies and along with his 4 brothers they rode a boxcar east to join up. One brother was killed and the other 4 returned to Canada. I always remember this story and feel grateful to those that came before us. Bob lived into his 90's.

November 11, 2017 - 3:08 pmThis is Jack Gordon, Garth's

Carman Hie SAID...

This is Jack Gordon, Garth's father and Shirley MacLean, a sister of Ray Maclean and daughter of Hugh MacLean.


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