Nov. 1st, 2014. It is grey, wet and cold. Really cold. The last reported temperature was 2° C. Looking around at the people gathered at Cullen Central Park in Whitby, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. There is a sizable crowd of people of all ages. Everyone is bundled up appropriately with one common adornment — a poppy. A piper begins to play his bagpipes and a brigade band joins in. Everyone stands as we watch a procession of representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces, Ontario’s First Responder community (Police, Fire, EMS) and government officials enter the area. We are all here on behalf of The Wounded Warriors of Canada to witness the unveiling of the Park of Reflections.
The Park of Reflections is “a living Tribute to all of Canada’s uniformed service personnel and their families who have served internationally or domestically, and as a result of their service, became ill or were injured in the line of duty. The park’s design symbolizes and augments their journey back to health. It represents the sacrifice of those in uniform and of their families, made in the cause of Peace and Freedom. The Park of Reflection is a place for Canadians to reflect and remember the cost of service for all of Canada’s uniformed service members — serving or retired — and their families.”
The Park of Reflection is the creation of Daimian Boyne – a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran and Whitby resident.
The people of the Durham Region support and are honoured to have this beautiful park located in the heart of Whitby. Historically, the Durham Region has played a big part in supporting Canada’s Service men and women. In Oshawa, on Stevenson Road North, The Ontario Regiment Museum is located. There you will find Canada’s largest collection of operational military vehicles. On Simcoe Street, the The R.S. McLaughlin Armoury celebrated 100 years of history in Oshawa earlier this year.
Did you know about Camp X? Right here in The Durham Region. Camp X stood in the area we now know as Intrepid Park in Whitby. Created in 1941 by Sir William Stephenson, also known as “A Man Called Intrepid”, this place became the training ground for real “Secret Agents” from around the world. In fact, Ian Flemming, the creator of the “007” franchise based his stories on research he did at Camp X. A recent documentary called, “About Camp X: Secret Agent School“, on the History Channel did a remarkable job of unfolding the importance of Camp X in training agents. It is well worth the watch. Perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people about Camp X is Lynn Philip Hodgson who wrote the book, “Inside Camp X” and he actually gives walking tours of the property.
Lynn can also enlighten us on many other contributions that The Durham Region made to the war effort…
– Bowmanville was home to a prisoner of war camp that housed 800 senior German Officers.
– DIL (Defense Industry Limited) in Ajax, had 9,000 women filling shells around the clock.
– The GM plant assembly line was producing military vehicles.
– The Oshawa Airport was the #20 EFTS (Elementary Flight Training School). Two thousand pilots were trained at this EFTS. Half of them did not return home.
It’s humbling to think how much was given by all these men and women so that we could live with the freedoms we have today. It is fitting that the path of the “Highway of Heroes” runs the full length of the Durham Region. This uniquely Canadian phenomenon that is known as “The Highway of Heroes” brings thousands of ordinary Canadians to line the sides and bridges of Highway 401 from Trenton to Toronto every time one of our fallen soldiers comes home for the last time.
The Durham Region is proud of their men and women who have served this country in whatever way they could. Sometimes that is just by reflecting and remembering. As Howard Osterkamp, commander of Chapter 3620 and a Korean War veteran said, “All gave some, some gave all”.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, please stop and join us for two (2) minutes of silence to reflect and remember all those who have given so much.
For more pictures of the Opening Ceremonies of the “Park of Reflection” please have a look at this gallery.