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document (19.46 MB) Volunteers Visit the Vaults

Events2013-1 html 42b88f54 1024x768On 31 January, about thirty volunteers visited a couple of the CWM vaults at the invitation of Catherine Culot, the Museum's Volunteer Coordinator.

Divided into two groups and led by curators Eric Fernberg and Arlene Doucette, the tour included the Arms and Dress and Insignia vaults, both of which proved to be treasure trove of amazing, interesting artifacts.

The sections of the Arms vault visited contained a collection of helmets that included some donated by the Tower of London that dated back to the 16th Century.

 There was a large and varied collection of swords, including one thatEvents2013-1 html 42ec163d could be traced back to the Plains of Abraham. Models and military toys were also on display with many of the latter stimulating childhood memories.

Over 3000 small arms are stored in the vault dating back to early matchlock muskets and such modern weapons as the 50 calibre sniper rifle used by Corporal Rob Furlong for his remarkable record-breaking shot in Afghanistan.

A similar experience awaited in the Dress and Insignia vaults where the visitors were treated to a display of uniforms of all kinds covering the entire spectrum of Canadian military history – all preserved with high tech, loving care.

Events2013-1 html 767a55a5Not all of the artifacts had a warlike provenance – among the military uniforms was a sweater from the RCAF Flyers Hockey Team that won the 1948 Olympic gold medal, and a dress worn by a WWII war bride.

Counting the uniforms, flags, medals and insignia, there are almost 60,000 artifacts in the Dress and Insignia vault. Arlene estimated that only about 5% of the Museum's holdings were actually on display, roughly the average for all large museums. She explained, however, that the material in the vaults was not dormant – it served as research material; was loaned out to the museums; and, basically served as a "library of objects".

The visitors thoroughly enjoyed their visit and the insights it gave them into the museum "under the surface" that could be equated to an iceberg. Many thanks to the Canadian War Museum for this opportunity.

Witness to History: Korean Veterans

On Sunday, 17 February, in remembrance of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice three of our Korean War veterans, Jas Haley, Doug Meredith and Reg Redknap, met with visitors to the LeBreton Gallery to share their experiences and to answer questions. It is during events such as these that our Volunteer Interpreters are able to add so much the experience of visiting the Canadian War Museum.Events2013-1 html 54c0cdefEvents2013-1 html mbe97974Events2013-1 html 4e2002f4

Heritage Day 2013

Events2013-1 html m61bc9504Tuesday, 19 February was Heritage Day in Ottawa and the Friends, represented by Mai-Yu Chan and Mike Hind, joined over forty other local museums and heritage organizations at Ottawa City Hall to celebrate the event. Among the large crowd of interested visitors were Mayor Jim Watson and a number of City Councillors. Events such as this provide the Friends with occasions to explain and show off the organization's accomplishments, volunteer opportunities and activities. They are also rich recruiting venues for new members.

Friends Attend "Billy Bishop Goes to War"

Those who were able to take up the offer of free seats to the "Billy Bishop Goes to War" show at the Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa were in for a real treat. As announced in January's e-bulletin, the director of the production, Teri Loretto-Valentik, arranged with Ashlee Beattie, then CWM's Volunteer Coordinator, to donate 60 free tickets to the Friends. The two-man musical ran from 8 to 23 February and was both entertaining and historically accurate. The career of Bishop (played by Chris Ralph) from marginal RMC cadet to WWII ace and VC winner was described in amusing narrative and lyric format (accompanied by James Caswell as narrator and pianist); and the stage settings were enhanced with material supplied by CWM's Tony Glen. The Friends are extremely appreciative of Teri Loretto-Valentik's very generous offer.

Renewal of LeBreton Gallery

On 14 April the Canadian War Museum held a Family Day in the Lebreton Gallery to showpiece the excellent refinements with the layout and signage of the artefacts.

The event featured activities for children on how to build a tank with blocks; how a submarine works; and how to send a message by flashlight.

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Volunteer Interpreters were on hand to enhance the experience for the many visitors and the Friends set up a recruiting table to entice new members.

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Judging from the turn-out and the enthusiastic response to the event, it was considered to be a great success.

Volunteer Lunch 2013

As part of 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Week the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation hosted its annual volunteer appreciation lunch on Monday, 22 April in the Barney Danson Theatre of the Canadian War Museum.

Events2013-1 html m65d7803Over two hundred volunteers from both the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum were in attendance. The event was opened by speeches of appreciation by Mark O'Neil, the CEO of the Corporation, and by James Whitham, the Director General of the Canadian War Museum. Both stressed the large and important roles that volunteers play in a wide spectrum of activities in both museums.

Next on the agenda was the presentation of long-service pins to eligible volunteers. Of particular note to the War Museum volunteers were presentations of the following long service pins:

25 Year

  • Frank Moran
  • Howard Mansfield
  • Nelson Langevin
  • Pamela Brunt
  • Helen Ott

20 Years

  • Jacqueline Gagnon

15 Years

  • William Smith
  • David Holmes
  • Donovan James Redknap
  • George Logan
  • J. Armand Haley

Remarkable records of voluntary service!

Events2013-1 html 228c72a4An excellent lunch followed that allowed the volunteers from both institutions to socialise and to share stories about their respective functions and institutions.

The event wrapped up with the presentation of door prizes to those fortunate enough to have their names drawn from the hat.

On behalf of all of the War Museum volunteers we thank the Corporation for this thoughtful recognition and the pleasant atmosphere of the event.

2013 Ottawa Militaria Show

Events2013-1 html 71406c00Once again this year, the Friends of the Canadian War Museum had a table at the annual Ottawa Militaria Show. The event provides an opportunity for collectors and militaria buffs to browse through numerous collections of old weapons, uniforms, badges and other military equipment. Almost two hundred tables were set up to display, sell and to buy these interesting artefacts.

The Friends takes advantage of events like this to recruit new members and to advertise the good work the organisation does in support of the Canadian War Museum.

Our table, manned by a number of Volunteers attracted a number of interested people who took away information about the Friends and enrolment brochures. It remains to be seen how many convert into actual new members. Regardless, this opportunity is a good opportunity to showpiece the work of the Friends.

Ed Storey, an active member of the Friends, is one of the organizers of this annual event.

Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children

On Tuesday, 7 May, several of the Friends joined a large, distinguished gathering at the Canadian War Museum for the Ottawa Premiere of the documentary film, Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children.

Events2013-1 html m1d794477The evening started with a meet-and-greet reception in the CWM Mess that allowed the guests to mingle with the members of the production crew and the distinguished guests including Senator Romeo Dallaire.

The screening took place in the Barney Danson Theatre and was kicked off by some introductory words by Tom Cook, the Museum's Director of Research. Peter Raymond, President of White Pine Pictures and the Producer of the documentary followed with some words of thanks to those who had made the film possible, including the Ontario Media Development Corporation, Telefilm Canada, and Rogers.

The Director of the film, Patrick Reed also added a few introductory remarks before the film began.

The film itself was based around the return of General Dallaire to central Africa eighteen years after his traumatic experience with the Rwandan Genocide. His return, and the film, focussed on his efforts to end the practice of using children as soldiers (weapons systems). There are estimated to be over a quarter of a million child soldiers in the world, mostly, but not all in Africa.

Events2013-1 html m1a6d86bFor almost two hours the audience was spell-bound by the gut-wrenching spectacle of children forcibly taken from their homes by a variety of war-lords and turned into killing machines or, in the case of many of the girls, sex-slaves. The impotence of the United Nations in preventing this atrocity was stressed, particularly since the more advanced countries of the world pay little heed to the problem. The efforts of a few dedicated individuals and organisations loosely bound together by the inspiration of Dallaire's leadership were displayed, but it was clear that without more substantial national efforts, theirs was an endless and probably losing battle.

Following the movie, Senator Dallaire and Patrick Reed fielded questions from the audience.
The final question of the evening and the Senator's response were probably the ones that resonated the most. In summary they were, "How do you convince Canadians to take up the cause of child soldiers?" "They are children, just like our children. There are not two types of children."

Tank Talks

Events2013-1 html 34c769a5On Thursday 16 May, almost thirty Friends and Museum visitors gathered in the LeBreton Gallery to hear the first of what is hoped to be a series of talks by Volunteer Interpreters on their particular fields of expertise. This initial presentation was called Tank Talks and the specific subject was the M1917 6 Ton Tank recently renovated with the financial and technical assistance of the FCWM.

Doug Rowland, President of the Friends kicked off the evening with some introductory remarks before turning the floor over to Tony Glen, the CWM Director of Collections.

Events2013-1 html 5ad19b27Tony focussed his remarks on the acquisition of the specific vehicle on display. He noted that it had been stripped down and used in the logging industry in Bracebridge, Ontario before making its way to Alberta. It was in Alberta that the vehicle was noted by Jim Whitham, then working for an Alberta Museum, but now the Director General of the CWM. Later, when he moved to the CWM, Jim was able to acquire the tank for the War Museum.

Tony spoke of the many lives that had crossed the path of the tank since its acquisition by the Museum - members of the FCWM and the CWM who had devoted thousands of hours to its restoration; those members of the Friends, and in particular Mr. Richard Thorman, who had donated towards its restoration; the Volunteer Interpreters who tell its story every day; and, the many visitors who come to the Gallery to see and to learn about this historic tank.

Events2013-1 html m57344bf5Major (Ret'd) Don Allen, a Volunteer interpreter with the Friends then gave a lively presentation on the history of the tank leading up to its introduction into the Canadian Army. He spoke of the initial introduction of British "Land Ships" on to the battlefield in 1916 followed by the French "chars d'assault" a year later.

These early attempts to break the stalemate of trench warfare bore little resemblance to the modern tank. It was not until the introduction of the French Light Tank Renault FT Model 1917 that the design of future tanks began to take shape. Although slow, small and mechanically unreliable, the Renault sported a rotating, central gun turret; the driver sat in the front; the commander had a central position in the turret; and, the engine was situated in the rear.

Events2013-1 html m4308503cThe Americans acquired a number of Renaults toward the end of the war and, under licence, began to produce their own version, to be known as the Six Ton Special Tractor M1917. In early 1940, the Canadian Army, desperate to acquire tanks of its own for training purposes, purchased a couple of hundred from the United States under the guise of "scrap metal" to circumvent American neutrality. The specimen in the LeBreton Gallery is one of those US-built tanks.

Following Don's informative talk, he provided a hands-on description of the vehicle in the gallery to an interested audience.

Events2013-1 html m180381d5Peace Exhibition Briefing

From 31 May 2013 until 5 January 2014, the Canadian War Museum will showcase a special exhibition in the LCol John McCrae Gallery. Peace – The Exhibition will explore the ways in which Canadians have taken action to bring peace to the world. It features more than 300 unique and important artifacts, across 12 historic episodes, and encourages visitors to add their own voices.

On 22 May 2013, the Canadian War Museum provided an orientation session on this new exhibition to available Volunteer Interpreters. The session, led by Dr. Amber Lloydlangston, the curator of the exhibit, described the purpose and content of the exhibit and stressed its suitability and application for audiences of all ages. It provided an opportunity for the Volunteer Interpreters, some of whom could help interpret the exhibition, to ask questions and to discuss it with the curator.

Sessions such as this are important to ensure that Volunteer Interpreter are not only knowledgeable of the exhibit and its contents, but also of the messages that the Museum wishes to convey.Events2013-1 html 6f6d96dd

The Human Library

On 9 June twenty-six people from throughout the National Capital Region volunteered to act as "books" for this year's Human Library at the Canadian War Museum. The event was appropriately entitled "Peace Stories" to coincide with the opening week of the special exhibit "Peace". Visitors were able to check out a selection, just like at a public library, and spend 20 minutes in conversation to learn more about that person's particular experience related to peace.

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Human Libraries provide an exciting opportunity for members of the public to connect one-on-one with individuals willing to share their diverse life experiences, stories and knowledge. The concept originated in Denmark in 2000 but has now been adopted worldwide. Last year's Human Library event at the War Museum attracted more than 150 participants and received the 2012 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive!
Events2013-1 html m15599914Among this year's human "books" were a number of Friends. John Anderson discussed his forty-year involvement in Canadian defence research and development. LGen (Ret'd) Richard Everaire spoke of his forty-two year military career. Marcel Lavigne shared his experiences as a serviceman on a United Nations mission in the Middle East in 1974. Adam Leclerc recounted stories of his experiences in Afghanistan as a military policeman training Afghan forces to deal with security issues. Doug Rowland related his experiences as a Member of Parliament and National Defence Critic who went to Vietnam in 1972-73 to assess the situation, and in 2005 and 2010 travelled to Iraq as part of the election monitoring teams.Events2013-1 html 347953a1

There were fewer borrowers in attendance than for last year's successful event perhaps because it was staged separately from the Ottawa Public Library's which was held earlier in the year. Media attention was not as focussed and intense with a resultant decrease in public awareness. Nonetheless, the 77 borrowers who "read" an average of 2 and one-half books each expressed satisfaction with the experience.

2013 Colonel By Day

In 1826 Royal Engineer Lieutenant-Colonel John By was sent to Upper Canada to supervise the construction of the Rideau Canal. He built three barracks to house his soldiers on the hill above the future entrance to the canal and the resulting settlement, called Bytown in his honour, established what is today the City of Ottawa. Over six years, Colonel By and over 2000 labourers zealously overcame significant challenges to build the Rideau Canal, recognized as an engineering marvel and an invaluable strategic asset for navigation.

In 1995, The Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa's (CHOO) initiated Colonel By Day to acknowledge this remarkable achievement, to celebrate the richness of Ottawa's past and to create a festive annual 'living history event' connecting generations past and present on Colonel By's birthday.

This year on 5 August, for the first time, the Friends of the Canadian War Museum joined almost thirty other local heritage organisations to celebrate this annual event on a beautiful sunny day against the magnificent backdrop of the Ottawa Locks below the Chateau Laurier.

Seen here are Larry Capstick and Phyllis Reading who have been joined by President Doug Rowland at their table.

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Vintage Wings Air Show 2013

The annual Vintage Wings event was held at the Gatineau Municipal Airport on 14-15 September. The focal points of this weekend are the static and flying displays of the beautifully restored World War II aircraft of the Vintage Wings of Canada not-for-profit volunteer organisation.

The aircraft on display this year, both on the ground and in the air, included an Avro Lancaster (the only one in flying condition in North America) from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton; a Supermarine Spitfire; a North American Mustang; a Curtiss P-40 (Kittyhawk/Tomahawk); a Chance Vought Corsair; a pair of Westland Lysanders; an Antonov AN-2 biplane; a Consolidated Catalina, and, a North American B-25 Mitchell. There were several other vintage aircraft scattered about the large site.

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More modern aircraft included a Canadair F-86 Sabre in Golden Hawk colours; a Lockheed C-113J Hercules; a Boeing Chinook Helicopter; a McDonnell Douglas CF-18; and an Alpha Jet trainer.

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The large crowds were treated to impressive fly-pasts from the vintage aircraft, including para-drops from the Antonov; simulated aerial refuelling of two CF-18s from an Airbus CC-150 Polaris Aerial Refueller.

The Friends of the Canadian War Museum were represented at the event for the first time. Along with two vehicles from the Canadian War Museum (a Lynx Scout Car and a Universal Carrier), a group of volunteers organised by Larry Capstick, Chair of the Events Committee, manned a table to explain the role of the Friends to interested visitors.

In addition to Larry, other volunteers in attendance were Don Allen, Bill Aikman, Phyllis Reading, Herb Davis, Gordon Foster, Mai-yu Chan, Denis Feldman, Mike Braham, and Doug Rowland. They are shown in action below.

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Tour of CWM by CJOC Sergeant-Majors

On October 23, a group of military personnel held an activity day at the Canadian War Museum. Under the direction of Friend, Ed Storey, the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) Sergeant-Majors, met at the Museum for a
professional development day.

The President of the Friends, Doug Rowland spoke to the group before lunch. In the afternoon, they were provided with a very special tour which focused on the architecture of the building, Mr Raymond Moriyama's conceptualization of the building as expressed in the two memorial areas, the Memorial Hall and Regeneration Hall. As well, we had the opportunity to speak about the Museum's collection of war art and specifically, the work of Mr Walter Allward and the Vimy memorial. Lots of anecdotes, questions and comments provided for an engaging and informative session. Members commented that although many had been through the museum on more than one occasion, they had never visited some of these areas or recognized the significance they held for the museum and one of its founding principles which is to commemorate the sacrifices made by servicemen and women throughout Canada's history.

2013 Militaria Show

militariaAs for the past two years, the Friends manned a table at the Annual Militaria Show in Ottawa on 26 October. This display of military memorabilia draws a large crowd and offers the Friends a good opportunity to make the organization better known and to recruit new members. Here, Friends Rob Collins and Gordon Foster engage a potential member.

Take a Veteran to Dinner

Take a Veteran to Dinner Night on Sunday, October 20 was another great success judging from the feedback of vets and hosts.  Each year the vets are very appreciative of the recognition.  The speaker this year was Sergeant Bjarne Nielsen and he spoke about the injuries he received in Afghanistan, his recovery and the work he does now with the Canadian Forces' Soldier On program.   Bjarne said afterwards that he really appreciated the chance to tell his story and thought that the dinner was a great way to "bridge the gap" between different generations of veterans.

Just under 100 people attended the dinner at Tudor Hall and as always Carol Anne Meehan was excellent in her role as emcee.  45 veterans -- of WWII, Korea, various peacekeeping missions and Afghanistan -- were recognized and some were accompanied by spouses.  We feel it is very important to include spouses and recognize their part in the military family.  

Veterans Appreciation Day at Billings Bridge Plaza

MeetAVeteran1Gary Furrie, Phyllis Reading, Stephen DunneThis year’s Veterans Appreciation Day at Billings Bridge was another huge success.  A great turnout of veterans and the public as well as a large number of school children made for a most enjoyable day.  The Friends of the Canadian War Museum had two tables among the many representatives of veteran groups who were there to engage with the public.  The Friends Book Room, under Stephen Dunne’s leadership, enjoyed a brisk business and their sales numbers surpassed expectations.  The Events Committee was located near the entrance of the Target Store and this provided ample opportunity to meet with shoppers as well as people who were there for the event.  Marilyn Minnes joined Larry Capstick for the day and both were surprised how quickly the day passed.  Veterans Affairs Canada provided the Friends with lunch and ensured that they were well looked after.MeetAVeteran2Larry Capstick & Marilyn Minnes


A highlight was the opportunity to talk with people who were interested in the Friends organization and those who simply wanted to talk about their experiences and how much these sorts of events meant to them. At times it got quite emotional.   A great number of brochures, past copies of the Torch, and some of the FCWM fact sheets were distributed.  Hopefully, a few people were encouraged to consider joining the Friends or in making a donation, but if not, they at least know who we are.    

Thanks to M-J Tremblay, a Director with the Friends, who helped coordinate the event. 

Remembrance Day at the Canadian War Museum

The general public and veterans attended Remembrance Day ceremonies and activities at the Canadian War Museum.  A ceremony was held in the LeBreton Gallery where Les Choristes Choir from London, Ontario and the Joan of Arc Academy of Ottawa choir performed, and, as in past years, a focal point of the day was the Headstone of the Unknown Soldier in the Memorial Hall where visitors came to leave poppies and to spend a few moments in reflection.


Remem1Crowd in LeBreton Gallery Remem2Jerry Bowen shares some memories Remem3Frank Lucano reflects


2013-14 Silver Cross Mother

SilverCrossMotherGordon Moore, Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion, named Mrs. Niki Psiharis as the National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother for 2013-2014.

Mrs. Psiharis lives in Laval, Québec. She is the 6th mother from Québec to be named as the National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother since the Legion began this tradition more than sixty years ago.

Mrs. Psiharis lost her youngest son, Sergeant Chris Karigiannis, when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle approximately 40km west of Kandahar City, Afghanistan on 20 June 2007 – less than two months from his scheduled return home in August.

As the National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother, Mrs. Psiharis laid a wreath at the National War Memorial on 11 November 2013 on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a son or a daughter in the military either in action or in the course of his/her normal duty.

Mrs. Psiharis’ other sons Peter and Spiro were at the ceremony. Her spouse, Mr. Anastasios Karigiannis, passed away in 1990.

In recognition of her appointment, Mrs. Psiharis was made an honourary member of the Friends of the Canadian War Museum and presented with a plaque by the President of the Friends, Douglas Rowland. The following are the words that Mr. Rowland used for the presentation: “Mrs. Psiharis: in acknowledgement of your personal sacrifice for our country,  and in recognition of the grace and dignity with which you are representing all those Canadian women and their families who have lost sons and daughters in the service of Canada, the Friends of the Canadian War Museum will be grateful and humbled  if you accept our present of honorary membership in our organization and thereby an ongoing association with this fine Museum. We have some understanding of what you have lost, we thank you for undertaking this additional service to your country in carrying out your extremely important and highly symbolic role as Silver Cross mother. I know Sergeant Karigiannis is proud.”

Friends Forum Lunch

On Monday, 18 November over 40 Friends gathered at Legion Branch 623 in Orleans for lunch. Organized by our President, Doug Rowland and Events Committee Chair, Larry Capstick the occasion provided a convivial atmosphere in which to meet other Friends, to make a presentation, and to listen to an interesting presentation.

Legion Branch 623 is a nicely appointed, modern facility that proved to be an excellent venue for the event and which served up an outstanding meal for the attendees. Following the meal, Larry Capstick invited the 2011 FCWM Volunteer of the Year, Don Allen to introduce the 2012 winner of the award, Mike Braham. Don performed this function eloquently and Mike humbly acknowledged his kind remarks. Mark O’Neil, CEO of the Canadian Museum Corporation then presented Mike with his plaque.

Mark then provided an interesting presentation on the transition of the Canadian Museum of Civilisation to the Museum of Canadian History, noting that the transformation will provide Canadians with a much more comprehensive description of their history from the origins of the country to the present day. During his remarks, Mr O’Neil paid homage to the Friends and to their significant contributions to the development and ongoing operations of the Canadian War Museum.

On completion of the lunch, the attendees were unanimous in their desire to make this a regular event as an opportunity to meet other Friends and to benefit from a talk of topical interest.

5th Annual School Day Hockey Game

On Tuesday, 19 November, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group hosted the 5th Annual School Day Hockey Game at the Canadian Tire Centre. Over 12,000 school children from all over Ottawa attended the game between the Ottawa 67s and the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League.

This year’s theme was Remembrance Day and the Canadian War Museum and the Friends of the Canadian War Museum were invited to participate. Dr. Marvin Blauer and Mike Braham of the Friends set up an information table on both the CWM and FCWM. Although not seen as a recruiting opportunity by the Friends it served as an excellent opportunity to engage local youth on the meaning of Remembrance Day and to explain the complementary roles of the Canadian War Museum and the Friends. A large number of young people and their teachers stopped by to chat and to take away information on both organisations.


Hockey1Mike Braham Hockey2They came by the busload Hockey3Marvin Blauer


Volunteer’s Annual Holiday Season Lunch

FriendsXmasLunchOn 9 December, the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation extended its annual invitation for lunch to the volunteers at the Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum. This year, the highly anticipated event was held in the Barney Danson Theatre of the Canadian War Museum.

Despite the inclement weather a large crowd of volunteers gratefully accepted this kind invitation and were treated to an excellent meal.

This event provides the Corporation an opportunity to thank the volunteers for their long and dedicated hours in support of these two national institutions. Mark O’Neil, CEO of the Corporation, opened the festivities with his personal words of gratitude and he was followed by Elizabeth Goger, Vice-President Human Resources who added her own words of welcome.

Following the lunch, Jim Whitham, Director General of the Canadian War Museum closed the event with his own holiday wishes.

All of the volunteers are highly appreciative of this annual recognition and opportunity to meet with their colleagues in the other museum and to mingle with Museum staff in a friendly, convivial setting. 


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