World War heroes
Parks Canada invites Canadians to join us in commemorating individuals from all walks of life, who made unique contributions to Canada’s First and Second World War efforts. During these global conflicts, civilians and those in the armed forces played a crucial role in protecting and building our 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.
Parks Canada is proud to have partnered with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network to broadcast two very important Hometown Heroes ceremonies. Watch these ceremonies and get an inside look at how Parks Canada commemorated Sergeant Tommy Prince and Inuk Elder Qapik Attagutsiak.
Home Port Heroes
Parks Canada’s home port heroes initiative invites Canadians to remember the sacrifices made by those who served in merchant navies during the Second World War and to celebrate the incredible output from Canadian shipyards in delivering on a massive program of cargo ships to reinforce the merchant fleets of both Canada and Great Britain.
Commemorating Canada’s Merchant Navy
Throughout the war, Canadian, Allied, and neutral merchant fleets lost 4,200 vessels, mainly to enemy action. In excess of 62,900 sailors perished, including more than 1,600 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who are now commemorated in the Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance housed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Since 2003, September 3 is recognized as Merchant Navy Veterans Day honouring the contributions of those who served in this service. Their sacrifice is equally recognized as part of the Battle of the Atlantic, commemorated yearly on the first Sunday in May.
Rising to the challenge
To support the Allied war effort, Canadian shipyards undertook an ambitious building program. Between 1941 and 1945, they completed more than 400 cargo ships. Of these, the Park Steamship Company Limited, a Crown corporation, operated some 180 vessels named after Canadian parks while many other Canadian-built merchant ships, named after forts from Canadian history, were supplied to Britain.
Today, a number of these places with namesake park or fort merchant vessels are preserved and presented by Parks Canada as part of Canada’s extensive network of national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.
Learn more about the "Park" and "Fort" ships
Several national historic designations commemorate Canada’s Second World War merchant service and shipbuilding industry:
- Role of the Canadian Merchant Navy during the Second World War National Historic Event
- Battle of the Atlantic National Historic Event
- Battle of the St. Lawrence National Historic Event
- Shipbuilding at the Burrard Dry Dock Company National Historic Event
- Crow’s Nest Officers’ Club National Historic Site of Canada