Image: Army Museum, Halifax Citadel
Canada’s participation in the First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945) touched every community in this country. Parks Canada invites Canadians to join us in commemorating individuals from all walks of life who made unique contributions to the war effort. During these global conflicts, civilians and those in the armed forces played a crucial role in protecting and building their communities and thus Canada as a whole.
Get to know the remarkable stories of these Hometown Heroes, honour their memory and express your gratitude for their service by visiting Parks Canada’s National Historic Sites, National Parks, and National Marine Conservation Areas. We will remember them…
Angus L. Macdonald 1890-1954
Born in rural Cape Breton, Angus L. Macdonald was one of Nova Scotia’s longest-serving Premiers. Before entering politics, he served with his brothers Oswin (left) and John Colin (right) in the First World War.
After officer training, Macdonald joined the Cape Breton Highlanders (185th Battalion) before being sent to the front lines in 1918 as a Lieutenant with the Nova Scotia Rifles (25th Battalion), known as the “Trench Raiders.” Bravely leading a company into action, he was seriously wounded by a German sniper only four days before the armistice. Macdonald grieved for “poor Collie,” his younger brother who fell in battle.
Macdonald had a lasting impact on Nova Scotia. The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was opened in 1955, a year after he died in office.
Image: Chestico Museum and Historical Society (Port Hood) and Mrs. Morag Graham
Clare Gass 1887-1968
Born in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Clare Gass served as a nursing sister with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Overcoming brutal conditions and countless patients, nurses were the unsung heroes of the First World War.
Working at No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill University) in France, Gass became friends with John McCrae, a military doctor. McCrae showed her a draft of his iconic poem, “In Flanders Fields.” She copied it into her diary. Asked what she thought, Gass encouraged him to publish it in Punch magazine, which he did in 1915. Together with the poppy, it remains at the heart of Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada.
Remarkably, four of Clare Gass’s younger brothers also fought in Europe, with one dying in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. She returned to Canada after the war and became a pioneer in the field of medical social work.
Image: Mrs. Gertrude Henderson (Gass’s niece)
George Price 1892-1918
George Price is a tragic figure from the First World War. He is believed to be the last Canadian and Commonwealth soldier to die in combat, shot by a German sniper on 11 November 1918, just two minutes before the armistice took effect at 11:00 a.m.
Born at Falmouth, Nova Scotia, Price later moved to Saskatchewan where he was conscripted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1917. He served as a Private in the 28th “Northwest” Battalion until his untimely death in the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine.
Price is remembered as a hero in Nova Scotia, where his family still resides. His sacrifice is also commemorated near Mons, Belgium, where he is buried and various monuments, buildings, and schools are named in his honour.
Image: City of Roeulx (Belgium) and Mr. George Barkhouse (Price’s nephew)
Thomas Hammond 1887-1916
Born in Scarsdale, Nova Scotia, Thomas Hammond was among more than 200 Mi’kmaq from Atlantic Canada to volunteer for the Great War. Despite limited civil rights at home and cultural barriers within the military, First Nations enlistments were significant across the country.
Hammond joined the 26th “New Brunswick” Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a Private in 1915, but tragically was killed during the Somme Offensive the following year. He participated in the intense fighting of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in northern France, from which his body was never recovered. He was 29.
A number of Mi’kmaq received awards for bravery and distinguished service. One sma’knis (soldier), Stephen Toney of Pictou Landing, was among the most decorated snipers in the entire Allied Army.
Image: Nova Scotia Museum