728 x 90

Local war dead remembered


In a day and age where we hear concerns that our veterans and the sacrifices they made are no longer being remembered, it was clear that at least on this day, they were.
Remembrance Day services were held across the country on Monday, including in The Pas, and arguably the coldest day since last winter didn’t dim attendance.
People turned up along the streets to watch as a march was held from the Royal Canadian Legion to Margaret Barbour Collegiate Institute nvolving veterans, members of the RCMP and correctional officers as well as local youth organizations and others, including the local air cadets.
When the march ended at MBCI, those in it entered into the gymnasium, a room filled to standing room capacity, as hundreds of people from The Pas and surrounding area came out to pay tribute to those who served for their nation in conflicts great and small. For some, that service was the ultimate sacrifice.
That was a detail of the speech made by local historian and war grave protecter Ralph McLean. McLean has received extensive notoriety for his work in finding, marking and eventually getting a proper headstone for war graves. Which McLean has worked around the world on his efforts, he is well-known locally for his contributions to dozens of war graves in local cemetaries.
McLean spoke of the lives -and deaths- of many of the local people, or those with local connections, who served in war such as World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
“Canadians flocked to enlist. They came from all backgrounds, including men from The Pas and area that were butchers, bakers, candy makers, cooks, clerks and bookkeepers, carpenters, chauffeurs, tailors, clergyman, engineers and tradesmen from the railway, farmers, trappers and fisherman, labourers, lumberjacks, businessmen, physicians, school teachers and students, plumbers, newspapermen, prospectors, salesman, surveyors, teamsters and members of the Royal North West Mounted Police,” said McLean, referring to just the walk of life veterans of the First World War came from.
In total, The Pas and surrounding area have seen 138 men and women give their life in conflict, and a far greater number have served their nation and returned.
“While The Pas, Moose Lake, Cormorant, Mafeking, Cranberry Portage and Cumberland House can claim 64 war dead from WW1, two from the Spanish Civil War, 64 from WW2, one from Korea, five Active Service, one Peacekeeper and one from Vietnam, we must not forget those who served and returned,” said McLean. “Well over a thousand men and women just from The Pas alone served in WW1, WW2, Korea up to present day. The early community of The Pas was very cosmopolitan, and our citizens hailed from all corners of the world. We were very well ahead of time in terms of working together across many ethnic and racial divides to the point it wasn’t even an issue in the early days. We all depended on each other and we knew it and it is important to know that the elected officers of the Great War Veterans Association, forerunner of the Royal Canadian Legion, refused to charter post war unless Indigenous veterans were given full membership and voting rights. We can learn from these early veterans about their ideals and what they fought for. Some gave all, and those that returned only asked to be treated with dignity and respect and for us to strive for a better country.”

Trent Allen