A salute to those who served Canada during 100th anniversary of Great War


This Fokker Triplane model from World War I is at the Elgin Military Museum. There were only 320 Fokker Triplanes produced.
(Kathy Rumleski/CTV London)

I’m sharing with you a CTV London special series which aired last night and will continue for the next three nights.

I worked in partnership with Sean Irvine. He meticulously went through file footage both at our station and at the Elgin Military Museum. I joined him for a day of research at the museum. We have put together a comprehensive package, both for TV viewers and our online readers.

Sean found a story from our station in 1982 that looked at the project of Sterling Ence, who interviewed veterans using new technology at the time, a Betamax video camera, to preserve their stories.

Sean then tracked down Ence for his series and Ence gave him a wonderful quote about why he wanted to talk to the vets and record history.

“I would like to think that at the very time this was done, that this gave Jim Pickston (one of the vets) a boost. That finally somebody was listening to him. And if he died a little happier, that he had not been forgotten completely, that in itself is a pretty good thing.”

The grandson of Art Freeman, who will be featured in part 2 tonight, became emotional when he talked to Sean about preserving stories. He promised his grandfather he would ensure those that served would not be forgotten. While Art survived, his brother Robert didn’t.

Paul said his grandfather would often grapple with survivor’s guilt.

“You go down there and he’d be on the porch, or at the kitchen table with his hands on the side hill and he’d be crying, ‘Why me? Why did I live and so many have to die?”

Paul put together a book about his grandfather and great uncle that is at the Elgin Military Museum. The museum is trying to preserve even more stories, but needs funding.

Here is a look at CTV London’s coverage.


Be sure to tune in to catch the next three parts.





12 thoughts on “A salute to those who served Canada during 100th anniversary of Great War

  1. A great idea. However war dead Robert Freeman
    himself is not fleshed out, just his “Returned Soldier”
    brother in his old age. These “Vet” interviews were
    done well before the internet and the development
    of Canada’s “Virtual War Memorial” – online only,
    interactive – hosted by Vets afairs since c2000,
    Robert’s VWM identity file has a good selection
    of service-related images your viewers might find
    interesting. And helpful in looking up their own
    family tree Great War fallen of the London area,
    inspired by your interest.
    Can you encourage CTV to display images of the
    “Attestation” documents – primary resources posted
    by Archives Canada – that these young man signed
    when they joined up? It enhances images of the
    elderly me who survived as well as those who did
    not come home with them.
    Paul may have pix of the two young volunteers in
    civilian, peacetime days, to enhance Robert’s VWM
    file – and possibly noting the brother who lived to tell
    the tale decades later.

  2. This isn’t matching, Robert and Attestation
    doc noted. Sorry.
    Can you get more information so that
    long-lived Art and long-dead sibling Robert
    can be seen in their war service era ?
    It’s hard to go out on this family with just a
    mental image of an old man crying…

  3. We need real names not nicknames, to
    appreciate your feature. Is this your ‘Art’–
    : FREEMAN, Arthur Bruce ?

  4. I’m getting Arthur B. Freeman of St. George St.
    St. Thomas as a 19 year old “laundry hand” in
    spring ’16 when he decided to join up. No info
    as to the company he worked for. Wonder what
    work he did when he became a civilian again
    after service overseas. Robert was ‘MIssing’.

  5. Great about VWM. Point re occupation is what a
    man enlisting entered on his Attestion document.
    Online package looks good – you already have a
    query about conserving their WW1 documents…
    Wish Mr. Freeman had named the Fallen brother in
    the interview – this happens a lot with such old men,
    forgetting to be specific, caught up in the emotion of
    the event. Pte. Arthur Freeman. M.M.. wow.
    Corporal Crooks, who died beside Arthur Freeman,
    seems to be CROOKS, Hugh Dewey, a steam fitter
    from Oxford Co,

  6. The spirit of ’14 is easier to capture if one looks up
    family trees, and sideways. If any viewer is interested
    in the CORBIN family, migrant from England, the
    undated, unsourced old newsoaper clipping re death
    of FREEMAN, Robert (sib Art) also records CORBIN
    “Bert” – Arthur Bertram – son of Janet CORBIN and
    spouse. In 1918 the Virtual War Memorial (at VAC)
    shows another son “fallen”, Janet now apparently a
    This image can be copied the VWM identity files of
    both CORBIN sons, and confirmed with images of
    their individual CEF Attestation documents (LAC).
    ? Anyone reading this game to make this small
    gesture of Remembrance ??
    Before it was “improved” recently the VWM had a
    text box for explanatory cutlines for posted images,
    but that’s now gone. One must tell the story with
    pix only.

  7. With CTV’s Sean and our Kathy introducing the
    public to Canada’s wonderful tax-funded
    Canadian Expeditionary Force online resources,
    here’s how one can look them up for closer study
    or for a new seardh. Rare was the Canadian
    family untouched by this conflict, sending sons,
    brothers, husbands,fiancés into the unknown.
    And Nursing Sister officers, usually unmarried
    and older due to professional training.
    — Easiest place to access CEF ‘Attestations’ – the
    signing up initial document is this listing on Google.
    “Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918 –
    Library and …www.bac-lac.gc.ca › …
    This series does not include the medical and
    religious affiliation information page though.

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