Listen to CBC Radio clips from the archives.
During the First World War, Canada decided to create a military unit that would represent its French-speaking population. As soldiers and peacekeepers, the Royal 22nd Regiment – the famed “Van Doos” – have been among Canada’s vanguard in both World Wars, and in hotspots that include Korea, Cyprus, Congo, Bosnia and East Timor. The distinct language and culture of the regiment have afforded unique opportunities, and posed frequent challenges.
They called it “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars” – though of course it didn’t. When hostilities erupted in Europe in 1914, Canadians rushed to Britain’s side. But the cost was terrible: more than 60,000 were killed, 172,000 wounded. There are no more Canadian combat veterans alive to recall the horrors of the First World War, but their voices and memories live on in the archives of the CBC. Lest we forget, here are some of their stories.
On Dec. 6, 1917, a collision in Halifax Harbour led to the biggest man-made explosion in the world before the era of the atomic bomb. The blast levelled most of the city and sent shards of glass and burning debris flying for miles. It left thousands dead, blinded or homeless. Although the explosion occurred before the creation of the CBC, the Canadian radio and TV network has retold the story throughout the years to ensure that this crucial event in Canadian history is not forgotten.