Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Most British Columbians are unaware of WWII battles fought on our own shores

Remembrance Day research shows Canadians know more about European WWII battles than attacks closer to home

Many people across Canada will be honouring veterans on Nov. 11, but a new survey suggests most British Columbians are unaware of the history that happened on our own shores during the Second World War.

Leading up to Remembrance Day, Leger Marketing conducted a survey on the behalf of Ancestry, a DNA history company, and found that less than a third of British Columbians are familiar with B.C.’s contribution during the WWII.

While the history of world wars are slugged away in numerous history books, the study illustrates that only 38 per cent of B.C. residents would like to learn more about their own family history on the province’s shorelines.

One of B.C.’s historical moments during the Second World War is the Aleutian Islands campaign, and only a mere one per cent of B.C. residents are aware that this event took place.

The Canadian army, navy and air force joined the U.S. to regain control of the small island chain off the coast of Alaska.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. The Ancestry survey reveals that while 55 per cent of British Columbians say they are familiar with larger battles, such as the D-Day landings in Normandy and 25 per cent say they are aware of the Dieppe Raid, not many are aware that the war actually reached Canadian shores.

Simon Pearce, a military genealogist and one of Ancestry’s progenealogists, said that Canada’s efforts on home soil played a “vital role in the war effort” and are stories that should be honoured alongside the European front lines.

“Canada played a key role in some of the Second World War’s most well-known battles, but let’s not forget the ways Canadians served closer to home – bravely defending the country’s borders from attacks, training pilots to serve overseas and facing treacherous waters to deliver essential supplies across the Atlantic.”

To help Canadians discover and learn more about Canada’s veterans, Ancestry is opening up free access to all global military records on their website from Nov. 2 to Nov. 11.

Ancestry uncovered an untold personal story of Lieutenant Sidney Vessey, who was killed in action during the Aleutian Islands Campaign in 1943. He was the first Canadian casualty during the invasion.

They have released a letter written to Vessey’s wife, Dolly in December 1943, which shared the circumstances of his death.

“…Lieutenant Vessey was instantly killed by the explosion of a land mine while investigating an enemy position at Kiska, Alaska…”

Lesley Anderson is a family historian from Ancestry.

“Learning about the role of our ancestors played in World War II can provide many of us with a personal, poignant link to the Remembrance Day commemorations and help us understand how the conflict shaped our families’ lives,” Anderson said.

“Now is the ideal time to search through historic records and images that bring home the humanity and individual stories of wartime.”

Ancestry is encouraging British Columbians to find a deeper personal connection to Remembrance Day by discovering the untold stories of how their ancestors contributed to WWII, at home and overseas.

Remembrance Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
Port Hardy RCMP catch shoplifting suspect who allegedly stole over $500 worth of clothing from local store

The suspect was eventually released with multiple conditions and to attend court in February of 2021

Quatsino First Nation is heading back to the polls. (Quatsino image)
Quatsino First Nation electing new Chief and Council

The ballot count will be broadcast over Zoom after polls close

For over a year Loaves and Fishes Food Bank has been giving 5,000-7,000 pounds of food every week to help address the massive need in the North Island. This year, they have partnered with the North Island Gazette Hamper Fund by providing $15,000 in gift cards to help with their Christmas Hamper Program. “Loaves and Fishes believes that everyone deserves access to a reliable abundance of food barrier free, it’s a real privilege to further serve the amazing people in Port Hardy and Port McNeill by assisting the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund,” explains Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes Executive Director. Loaves and Fishes bi-weekly depot is at Saint Columba’s Anglican-United Church and bi-weekly deliveries to other organizations in Port McNeill will continue through next year. (Natasha Griffiths photo)
It’s been a unique 41st year for the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund

‘This year has been very different than previous years due to the pandemic’

Christmas decorations at Gus' Pub. (Opal Tesch photo)
Gus’ Bar and Grill gets into the holiday spirit

Gus’ Bar and Grill has been a fixture in Port McNeill since… Continue reading

Mike Aldersey, the Port McNeill base manager for West Coast Helicopters has been awarded the prestigious Agar/Stringer Award by the Helicopter Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island pilot receives coveted helicopter industry award

Port McNeill based Mike Aldersey is the recipient of the 2o2o Agar/Stringer Award given out to select few Canadians

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read