Latest Updates

10 May 2020 18:49 PM

Lockdown continues everywhere

A video on the Legacy of WW2 from Tim Cook – well known to many for his work on WW1 Canadians


Spring Series of Speakers is cancelled due to COVID-19 Emergency

Gary Blakeley’s day job is as graphic designer and photographer, but he has also spent several decades honing his knowledge of the First World War and building a collection of militaria from the period. Like many serious collectors his interest was sparked as a boy. In the mid-1960s, his grandmother gave him his great-grandfather’s 1914 star trio of medals. James McCarthy had been killed in Belgium in 1915. That gift led Gary gradually into deeper investigation, first of the war, then of the Western Front, and ultimately of Talana Farm, the little cemetery where James McCarthy lies with 530 others of the fallen. Recognizing that each of those deaths had affected many more lives, Gary established and now curates a Facebook community page for the cemetery. Perhaps unique among Commonwealth war graves, Talana Farm thus has its own repository of personal and professional history. Almost a thousand followers – war historians and relatives alike – use the resource to find and share invaluable information.

See the Cemetery on the Commonwealth War Graves Site


Gary previously visited COBWFA on May 27, 2017 talking about his book “East of Lancashire: My Seven World War One Soldiers”

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Winter Issue of The Maple Leaf is out now!

Now working on our Spring Issue – send your stories in today!

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May Speaker Tim Cook – Postponed

The Fight for History: 75 Years of Forgetting, Remembering, and Remaking Canada’s Second World War to be released in Hardcover – April 21, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 health emergency, historian Tim Cook from the Canadian War Museum will be our special guest sometime in our Fall series of meetings. Watch for a new date once we have it.

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Penguin Pans Piper

See story at Link 🙂


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Quick notes on Mapping

In WW1 mapping was crucial to know where you and the enemy were located. The British Army maps of yesteryear are now able to give you accurate position data you can use in a GPS to find your way along the dusty byways of 1914-1918. Products like LINESMAN from Great War Digital have most of the tactical maps Canadians used. If you take a screen print of a map of Vimy France from the online Trenchmap Library at McMaster University you can open it in OZIE Explorer, put in known road junctions which typically are the same today as they were in WW1 and a GPS coordinate will pop up. There is a learning curve but the links below will assist you to understand the process of tracing back in time. Where was a soldier last seen alive? The trench map will tell you exactly on the ground. Try the link below for the National Library of Scotland who have georeferenced their collection. If you don’t find your information on one source its likely the others can assist you. Remember a map is a very accurate picture of the ground – if you could go back in time with an Canadian Army Helicopter you would land on the ground where your unit was operating in WW1. Feel free to send an email to and we can help you out as we have time.

See links – these maps generated a file (in GPX) format that is read by Google Earth – just download – unzip then open in Google Earth. Note you can see the data in 1917 or year 2000 format. There is latitude and longitude data on all sides of the map. Pick your point then read off the GPS data. The maps print out amazingly well on large scale plotters. – LINESMAN – OZIE EXPLORER see GUIDES to learn how Trench Maps worked – typically you want a map in 1:10,000 scale. – click the master map to see trench map coverage on the right hand side

War Diaries Search — example enter “9-52 war diaries 54th Battalion”. A map reference will be usually listed in the daily diary after September 1916 when the Canadian Army went to the Somme. Before and after the Somme positions were also listed as near something prominent like a sunken road cutting.

Canadian War Diaries – How to search for war diaries

Use Collection Search to view the digitized war diaries for the CEF (RG9-D-III-3, finding aid 9-52).

  • In the drop-down list, select Archives.
  • In the keyword box, enter 9-52 war diaries and the name of the unit. Examples:
    • 9-52 war diaries 52nd Battalion
    • 9-52 war diaries Cyclist
    • 9-52 war diaries 11th Trench Mortar


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Canadian Song of the Great War

Johnny Canuck/Good Luck to the Boys of the Allies was one of the most popular songs of the First World War. It could well have been played across Toronto on the night of 31 October 1915 at a special recruiting night held in 10 theatres. The programs featured short films, guest speakers, veterans from the front and live performances of the music of the time.

For more on the story, watch for “A Night at the Pictures, 1915”, in the upcoming Spring issue of The Maple Leaf.

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Support Memorial Flag Poles for Canadian Troops at Kinmel Park Wales

When WW1 ended Kinmel Park was the site of the Canadian Camp where troops were sent back to through Liverpool.

Brief History below

Kinmel Park Riot March 1919.

100 years later our man in Kinmel Park, John Johnson is raising money for two memorial  Flag Poles, one Canadian and one Union, they are to fly above the head stones of heroes who gave the ultimate at St. Margaret’s Church at Bodlewyddan in N. Wales.

Donations via Facebook are welcomed. All support greatfully received.

Donate here. Look for the “donate icon” underneath our man in the Cowboy Hat.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Ted Barris

Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019
R.S. McLaughlin Armoury
53 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa

Best-selling Canadian Author Ted Barris has a new work to add to his remarkable life’s work of respected publications: Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire. The award winning journalist and broadcaster has authored 18 non-fiction books. In 2011 he received the Veterans’ Affairs Commendation and in 2012 the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. His book The Great Escape: A Canadian Story received the 2014 Libris Best Non-Fiction Book Award. You’ll often find him leading tours on the battlefields or researching his latest projects.

If you have a project you are working on, an event or research to share and would like time at the meeting, email Glenn and he will arrange with you.

Arrive at your leisure between 9:30 & 10:30am for “Meet & Greet”

Call to order 10:30am

Lunch provided at the break $6

Free street parking.

(No Parking in the south lot)


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Belleville Memorial Re-Dedication

The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment Military Museum and the City of Belleville extend an invitation to you to attend the re-dedication of their WW1 Monument. The names of Lt. David Forneri, his sister Nursing Sister Agnes Florien Forneri, and Flight Sub Lieutenant Ellis Vair Reid will be added to the monument. You can read their Veterans Affairs notations at the links embedded in their names.

The event will take place at the City Cenotaph, 130 Station Street, Belleville at 1 pm. A learning fair on World War One will be held at the Belleville Armouries, 187 Pinnacle Street at 9-1230 and 2-5 pm.

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Special Centenary Issue of The Maple Leaf is out now

centenary issueThe special edition of our branch magazine, The Maple Leaf, was published in January and has been sent to members. A few copies are still available at a cost of $5 by emailing our Chair, Glenn Kerr. This is also the perfect time to take out a membership for only C$25 to receive three issues per year. Just tell Glenn to sign you up and email him your fee.

Our first meeting of 2019 will be  held on April 6 in the Sergeant’s Mess of the R.S. McLaughlin Armoury, 53 Simcoe St. N. in Oshawa.

Sign up for email announcements at the top of the page to get future notices of meetings and events.

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