Coulson Norman Mitchell, VC, engineer, soldier (born 11 December 1889 in Winnipeg, MB; died 17 November 1978 in Montréal, QC). During the First World War, Captain Mitchell was the only member of the Canadian engineers to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.
Mary Greyeyes Reid, Cree veteran of the Second World War (born 14 November 1920 on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation reserve, Marcelin, SK; died 31 March 2011 in Vancouver, BC). The first Indigenous woman to join Canada’s armed forces, Mary became a member of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps during the Second World War. The military tried to boost Indigenous recruitment and demonstrate Canada’s military might by posing her in a staged photo that has since been widely circulated in Canada.
Filip Konowal, Ukrainian immigrant, Great War soldier, Victoria Cross recipient for valour at the Battle for Hill 70, patron of Branch #360 of The Royal Canadian Legion in Toronto, Parliament Hill janitor (born 25 March 1887 in Kutkiw, Ukraine; died 3 June 1959 in Ottawa, Ontario).
Christopher Vokes, soldier (born in Armagh, Ireland, 13 April 1904; died in Toronto, ON, 27 March 1985). A tough-minded Second World War general, Vokes commanded Canadian army divisions in the Italian campaign and during the push through northern Germany at the end of the war. He was one of the few Canadian generals to emerge from the war with a reputation as a skilled operational commander.
Robert Hampton (Hammy) Gray, VC, aviator, student (born 2 November 1917 in Trail, BC; died 9 August 1945 in Onagawa Bay, Honshu, Japan). Following the Second World War, Gray was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery in the British Empire, becoming the last VC recipient of any nation during that war.
John Robert Osborn, VC, soldier, labourer (born 2 January 1899 in Foulden, Norfolk, England; died 19 December 1941 in Hong Kong). During the Second World War, Osborn’s heroic act was the first to earn a Canadian the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.
Buckam Singh, labourer, soldier (born 5 December 1893 in Mahilpur, Punjab, India; died 27 August 1919 in Kitchener, ON). There is little information published about the role of Sikhs in Canadian military service during the First World War. The discovery of Buckam Singh’s Victory Medal led to his reclamation by his community, which commemorates him with an annual Remembrance Day service
"For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy." Such dry words to describe the courage and daring ascribed to the Victoria Cross (VC), the Commonwealth's highest decoration for bravery.
Lionel B. (Leo) Clarke, soldier, railroad surveyor, Victoria Cross recipient (born 1 December 1892 in Waterdown, ON; died 19 October 1916 in France). During the First World War, Corporal Leo Clarke was one of three Canadian soldiers, all from the same street in Winnipeg, to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire. The three VCs earned by the men of Pine Street — later named "Valour Road" — was a feat unmatched in any other part of the Empire.
Leonard Joseph (Birch) Birchall, CM, O Ont, air force pilot, war hero, educator (born 6 July 1915 in St. Catharines, ON; died 10 September 2004 in Kingston, ON). During the Second World War, Birchall became known as the “Saviour of Ceylon” for alerting Allied forces of an approaching Japanese fleet. Captured after sending his message, he is also renowned for the courage and leadership he displayed while a prisoner of war.
Marion Alice Orr (née Powell). Pioneer pilot. (b. Jun 25, 1916 [?], Toronto, ON; d. April 4, 1995, Peterborough, ON). Marion Orr's birth date has been given variously as 1916, 1918 and 1920. She obfuscated sometimes on documents related to flying for fear that she would be grounded by her age.
William George (Billy) Barker, VC, fighter pilot, war hero, businessman (born 3 November 1894 in Dauphin, MB; died 12 March, 1930 in Ottawa, ON). One of Canada’s foremost First World War flying aces, Barker is, to date, the most highly decorated military serviceman in Canadian history.
Thomas (Tommy) Ricketts, soldier, pharmacist, Victoria Cross recipient (born 15 April 1901 in Middle Arm, White Bay, NL; died 10 February 1967 in St. John’s). During the First World War, Private Tommy Ricketts was the youngest soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.
Canada is a country so vast that too often, it seems, its history is lost inside its geography. A striking example is the history of Indigenous peoples, whose long, rich narrative is well-preserved by them, but seldom gets the same attention on a broader scale — even when their stories affect us all.
Joseph Georges Gilles Claude Lamontagne, O.C., O.Q., air force officer, businessman, mayor of Québec City and lieutenant-governor of Québec (born 17 April 1919 in Montréal, Québec; died 14 June 2016 in Québec City). Gilles Lamontagne was a veteran who was taken prisoner during the Second World War and who went on to have a long and successful political career at both the municipal and federal levels. Mayor of Québec City for some twelve years, Lamontagne contributed to modernizing the city’s infrastructure and governance. The former lieutenant-governor of Québec is also known for his civic engagement, especially with respect to military families.
Sir Samuel Hughes, teacher, journalist, soldier, politician (born at Darlington, Canada W 8 Jan 1853; died at Lindsay, Ont 24 Aug 1921). A Conservative and an enthusiastic supporter of Sir John A. Macdonald's National Policy, Sam Hughes was elected to Parliament for Victoria North in 1892.