Wilfrid ‘Wop’ May – Canadian Flying Ace and Alberta Aviation Pioneer

This year, 2017, marks Canada’s sesquicentennial – 150 years since Canada became a country; there will be many celebrations across the country on July 1st and throughout the year to mark this milestone! Many people have shaped Canada into the country that we know today, and one of those people is Wilfrid “Wop” May. Enjoy and Happy Canada Day!

Captain W.R. May – Edmonton, 1919 (Courtesy Denny May).

To Wop[1] May who had grown up on the Canadian prairie, the English winter of 1917 must have seemed dreary. With the arrival of spring, he was on his way to the Western Front, and perhaps it had been before leaving England, or at a train station in France, he chanced upon a sign advertising that the Royal Flying Corps were looking for pilots. The fact that more young men were killed in air training accidents than died in combat seemed not to be a deterrent – the lure of adventure in the skies won out – he applied, was accepted and began the process of learning how to fly a plane. Read more

National Aboriginal Day 2017

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson

Happy National Aboriginal Day!

National Aboriginal Day was announced in 1996 by, then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc on June 21st—the summer solstice. This week, and throughout the month of June, we recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Indigenous Peoples in what is today known as Alberta and Canada. During this year of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation, it is particularly important to remember the First Peoples who came before, and the thriving, contemporary First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities that continue to shape our country today.

Edmontonians are invited for stew and bannock at the Bissell Centre from 10:00AM – 2:00PM, or enjoy the day-long Aboriginal Day Live festivities at Victoria Park.

Live in Calgary? The University of Calgary is hosting a campfire chat on St. Patrick’s Island, discussing Indigenous perspectives of the cosmos through traditional storytelling, or spend your Saturday at the Family Day Festival and Powwow at the Stampede grounds.

Events are taking place throughout the week and across the province. Join us in taking the time to connect with our community, learn from one another and reflect on what it means to be a Canadian and Treaty person during this summer of celebration.

Event Listings:

Indigenous Relations’ 2017 National Aboriginal Day Events in Alberta: http://indigenous.alberta.ca/documents/NAD-Events-Alberta-June-2017.pdf?0.1319647190237596

City of Edmonton’s National Aboriginal Day Community Events: https://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/schedule_festivals_events/national-aboriginal-day.aspx

Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary: http://www.aawc.ca

Written By: Laura Golebiowski (Aboriginal Consultation Adviser)

Visit Alberta’s Historic Sites and Museums: Southern Alberta

Alberta’s provincial historic sites and museums are all open and in full swing with their programs. If you’re looking for something to do this summer, or want to make a pit stop on your roadtrip, check out some of Alberta’s provincial historic sites and museums.

If you’re in southern Alberta this summer, check out the Brooks Aqueduct or Leitch Collieries, two sites that are only open over the summer, from May 15 to Labour Day. And, the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, open year round, is just down the road from Leitch Collieries, so it is a good chance to visit both!

  • The Brooks Aqueduct was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900s and was the largest concrete structure of its kind in the world at the time (spanning a 3.2 km wide valley). The Aqueduct was an important part of an expansive irrigation network in the area and is an impressive site to see!

    The Brooks Aqueduct
  • The Leitch Collieries provincial historic site is located in the Crowsnest Pass and, at its time (1907-1915), was one of the largest and most ambitious coal mines in the pass. Ruins from some of the sandstone buildings that formed the surface operations are still standing. Take a walking tour and enjoy learning about the coal mining history of the area.
    Leitch Collieries
    Leitch Collieries

     

If you’re in central or northern Alberta, stay tuned for sites in your area!

The Lovat Scouts – Rocky Mountain Soldiers

On the evening of January 9, 1944, 500 soldiers arrived in the sleepy mountain town of Jasper, Alberta. Disembarking from the train, they marched through town accompanied by the skirl of their bagpipes and disappeared into the winter’s night. They were the Lovat Scouts, an elite British regimental unit sent to Canada to train for an Allied-led invasion of Nazi-occupied Norway. Far removed from the conflict in Europe, the mountains of Jasper National Park had been chosen as the location for this impressive undertaking.

Originally organized by the 16th Lord Lovat, the Lovat Scouts were a unique fighting force composed of Scottish Highlanders renowned for their excellent marksmanship and command of rugged terrain. The regiment served with great distinction in the South African Boer War and again in WWI where they won much acclaim at Gallipoli. In WWII, the Scouts were selected to be a key part of the Allied-led invasion of Norway. Recognized as having specialized skills adept to a mountain campaign, they were the only British unit to undergo formal training in high altitude warfare.  Their training, which commenced in the mountains of Scotland and Wales, was completed under winter conditions in Jasper National Park.

Lovat Scouts skiing in the Tonquin Valley, Jasper National Park, Alberta, ca.1943. Image Courtesy of Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives (PA 25-15).

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