Fort Garry Horse – Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell – “Leader of the Pack”

As a young person growing up on a farm in rural Manitoba, the military was far from being on the horizon for David Atwell.  After graduating from high school at the age of seventeen, he came to the city, took full time studies and took on three part-time jobs to make ends meet and pay tuition.   Realizing what a daunting task this was and how he was being pulled in so many directions, he felt he needed a better plan.  He thought he would have to consolidate his work efforts by trying to get one job that paid well.  Well, one day as he was checking the classified section of the Winnipeg Free Press he found an ad which ended up sending the young country boy to an address that turned out to be the MacGregor Armoury, home of the Fort Garry Horse Regiment.

“I remember this young man showing up wearing cowboy boots,” says the now Lieutenant Colonel Barb McManus (Gillis).  She was the recruiting officer who saw potential in the young lad and helped him go through the process.  She asked him if he wanted to be an officer or a soldier.  He said “What is the difference?”  Based on the fact that an officer was guaranteed work during the year part-time and 12 weeks of full-time pay at a better rate, David quickly decided to become an officer.  Anyone can see that 12 weeks versus 6 weeks of summer work is better and the pay difference was substantially more as well.  Without realizing what he was getting into, this young, tall, strapping country boy joined the reserves.

He became an Officer Cadet and went off to Gagetown for two summers of training.  He became a Lieutenant.  He had married in 1984 and the couple moved off to the Okanagan where David joined the British Columbia Dragoons (BCDs).  He was involved with a variety of exercises in Vernon and in Wainwright, Alberta with big events such as RendezVous.  He went on FallEx in Germany and held other interesting positions.  Eventually, he ended up in full time service calls out, serving in British Columbia Headquarters in Vancouver, Army Headquarters in St. Hubert, Québec, National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa and Land Forces Western Area Headquarters in Edmonton.  He held various accountable positions where he continued to raise in rank through to Captain and Major.

He and his family returned to their home town when their son was quite young so to re-establish a consistent upbringing and sense of community of family and friends that a place like Winnipeg brings.  David Atwell worked full-time as an IT Manager for the Manitoba Telephone System and worked with the reserves on a part-time basis.  He returned proudly to the Fort Garry Horse where he worked as Second in Command to Kelly Woiden who is now Brigadier General Woiden.  David became Lieutenant Colonel in 2001 until 2005 and again for a second time, in 2009 until the present.  During the gap years, he worked at Brigade Headquarters, was President of the Fort Garry Horse Association and Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant Governor John Harvard and Lenore Berscheid while still working full-time for MTS.

From his first tour of duty as the commanding officer, Lt. Col. David Atwell helped to make a number of projects come to fruition that had been started by his predecessor.  He helped establish two ceremonial monuments that now stand in France.  Both monuments recognize the Lord Stratchona’s Horse in Moreuil and the Fort Garry Horse who fought in Cambrai.  Flowerdew won the Victoria Cross in Moreuil and Harcus Strachan won the Victoria Cross in Cambrai.  Two beautiful monuments now stand near these cities.

As well, Lieutenant Colonel Atwell helped bring back some special stones from Calgary.  The Calgary base was in the process of closing down and so these special stones were temporarily moved to Edmonton and then finally into Winnipeg.  Why are these stones so special?  These stones are from Mount Worthington where Lieutenant Colonel Martin died.  At the time of Lieutenant Colonel Martin’s death, he was the commanding officer of the regular Fort Garry Horse Regiment.  Meanwhile, Mount Worthington is named after the man who is considered to be the father of the Canadian Armoured Corps.  So, in honour of Lieutenant Colonel Martin, the special stones were brought and paced in a park beside the McGregor Armoury.  Martin Park features these Mount Worthington stones, a Sherman tank and a Lynx reconnaissance vehicle.

Another major contribution that Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell has accomplished was to restore the numbers of the Fort Garry Horse. Due to a number of factors including sending soldiers to Afghanistan, the number of parading members was down to about 95 members when he took over.  Now, they have about 170 members.  This is an excellent accomplishment.  What is even more extraordinary is that these numbers of soldiers will now be split into two.

The first time Lieutenant Colonel Atwell was the CO, he was ordered to start an Engineering Unit as the province had not had one in a very long time.  So, he did as he was ordered and started the process.  It has now grown sufficiently to the point where the Unit will be split from not only Reconnaissance but also to an Engineering Unit.  It will be officially known as 31 Engineer Squadron.  They are about 70 members strong and they will be officially stood up at the parade scheduled for the Manitoba Legislature on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

This weekend is full of activities that the Lieutenant Colonel Atwell has been a part of for some time both with the military, as part of the association, as part of the book project committee and part of the coordinating planning committee for the 100th anniversary.  Plans are coming together.   There will be a Meet and Greet Friday evening.  Saturday, there will be two parades with present members, past members or old comrades, current cadets and ghost squadron.  There will be a five mounted horse troop that will commence the parade.  From the “Freedom of the City” parade at City Hall, the Fort Garry Horse will be on the move down Main Street to Portage Avenue to the Legislature.  Another very important parade will occur there with the new Engineering Unit being recognized.  Later that evening, there will be a big cavalry gala dinner and dance at the Fort Garry Hotel.  This is a black-tie event with formal mess kit or the equivalent for men and women.   Sunday, there will be a final chance for the Fort Garry family to say good-bye to each other at a brunch at the McGregor Armouries.

Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell says that he has had an excellent experience with the 30 years of his military history.  He has met and worked with truly remarkable people and for that he is truly honoured and humble.

He knew the FGH was like a family that cared because of what happened back in 1992 when he came back to be with his dying father from his military job in Edmonton.  No one from the Fort Garry Horse Regiment had been informed that he was back and no one knew that he would be soon burying is father.  At the funeral, a number of the Fort Garry Horse members showed up on their own to support to Dave when his father had passed on to the other side.  By that point in time, David Atwell had been away from Winnipeg and the FGH for over 10 years.  They did not forget him.  He was touched by the way the Fort Garry Horse Regimental family took the time to be part of his family and help him during a difficult time.  He will never forget that.

This sentiment is echoed by people like Lieutenant Colonel Barb McManus who says “Once a Garry, always a Garry.”  Most people who have served with the regiment find that there is a connection and a feeling of camaraderie that pervades the atmosphere and intent beyond being just a military establishment.  There is something very special happening here in a unit that lives by its creed and motto – “Facta Non Verba” which simply means in Latin – “Deeds not Words.”

It is with people who command and lead by example, like Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell who gets things done. Gord Askew says that David is the “Engine that drives this thing” and Larry Lajeunesse and Mike McNorgan recognize how much and how hard David Atwell works.  Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell has taken to heart the motto of “Facta non Verba” and lives by it.  If he can see a way to make it happen, he makes it happen with the help of a lot of people.  It is difficult to mention all these people by name and they include among so many of them, people such as Colonel Gary Solar, Lieutenant Colonel Rod Klinck, Lieutenant Colonel Larry Lajeunesse, Lieutenant Colonel David Stones, Honourary Colonel Andrew Paterson, Honourary Lieutanant-Colonel Brian Hastings, Chief Warrant Officer Gord Crossley, Major Mike McNorgan, Regimental Sergeant Major Roger Coutu, Major Dave Kolton and the list goes on.  There are literally hundreds of more people who have been crucial to the Fort Garry Horse.  This does not even include all the wonderful people who have already passed on in life.  David said that one of his fondest memories was going over to the D-Day beaches with the veterans as they would open right up and tell you what had happened when otherwise they had stayed silent about the atrocities of war and what they had been through.  On the actual battlefields, the veterans gladly told their stories.  It is with honour that David has visited World War I and War II locations of battles in Europe. As an avid historian, this brings home stories from the past and comes alive for him.

Many of these kinds of stories are to be found in the 100 year history book that the Fort Garry Horse has been working on for over eight years.  Mike McNorgan and Gord Crossley have finalized the book writings and it is to be released today.  The title of the book bears their motto , “Facta Non Verba” and again that is how the regimental members learn to live their lives and that is the way Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell lives his military and civilian lives too.  He is a leader of the pack.


Winnie the Bear’s Regiment is 100 Year Old Today!

Yes, if Winnie was alive today, she (not he) would be proud and pleased with  the men who surrounded her and helped her to become one of their own as mascot and member of the Fort Gary Horse family.  She would be happy that today, April 12, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the Fort Garry Horse Regiment and would be saying “Happy Birthday” if she could.   When the regiment was but two years old, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, was heading from Winnipeg to Québec in 1914.  Enroute they stopped in White River, Ontario where a hunter had shot and killed a mother bear.  The baby black bear cub was left without any care and so Lieutenant Colebourn, who was also a veterinarian, decided to buy her from the hunter for 20 dollars.  He had decided to call her “Winnie” after his home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The bear travelled with the FGH to England as the Forces prepared to wage battle in Europe during the First World War.  When it was time to fight in France, Colebourn thought it was best that Winnie be left in the care of the London Zoo and so he did just that.  She did very well there to the point where children were able to ride her and dignitaries from all over came to have their photo take with Winnie. Many of these photos are archived at the London Zoo. She became quite the famous bear in her own right due to her calm nature and friendly disposition.

Lieutenant Colebourn had originally had plans to bring Winnie the Bear back to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg after the war, however, when he saw how well she had adjusted to the London Zoo, he decided this would be the best place for her to live.  She lived for 20 years until 1934.  During this time, many people saw the bear.  Two of these people were named A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard who happened to be a writer and illustrator respectively.   It is interesting to note that Milne had taken his son, Christopher Robin, to see the bear, who became so enamoured by her that Christopher named his stuffed teddy bear after Winnie and this also inspired his father to write the “Winnie-the- Pooh” book in 1926 which also ended up featuring this very same son as a character in the now famous books.

This initial book and the three other books have formed the basis of many future continuing books, games and movies.  To this day, children around the world know the story of Winnie-the-Pooh bear but few people know the real roots of the story or the connectedness to the Fort Garry Horse Regiment of Winnipeg. Some real books have been written about the real story of Winne the Bear but few people know of them.  A couple of these books may be found in the library section of the Fort Garry Horse Museum.  Only recently was a movie produced by CBC called “A Bear Named Winnie” in 2004.  We should give thanks to Lieutenant Colebourn and the Fort Garry Horse Regiment for having saved this bear which has had a much bigger impact on the world than even they knew or suspected would or could occur.  Lieutenant Colebourn returned from the war and continued serving with the Fort Garry Horse unit.  He reached the level of Major. As a veterinarian, his practice was just down the street on Corydon Avenue not far from Confusion Corners.   One man’s actions such as Lieutenant Colebourn’s has become an instigation for many other deeds and effects.

We must remember certain facts.  Winnie was a real bear.  She came from Canada.  She was born in or around White River, Ontario and she is named after Winnipeg, Manitoba.  What is most important to understand and recognize is that had it not been for the tragedy of World War I in Europe and had it not been for the tragedy that Winnie’s mother had been killed, the circumstances that led her to being in England at that time would not have happened and the books of “Winnie-the-Pooh” either would not have happened or would have not been the same.  In addition, it is precisely because she was so well taken care of by Lieutenant Colebourn that she was able to develop a friendly disposition that attracted many people’s interest.   Because of these circumstances, the story has been written, illustrated and told.  For generations of people around the world, Winnie-the-Pooh is a fictional character and is now loved as a favourite children’s classic but it was entirely based on actual bear named Winnie.  She was the real being.

As a reminder of this historical connectedness, there is a bronze statue of Lieutenant Harry Colebourn along with Winnie the Bear at Assniboine Park Zoo but did you also realize, that there is an exact replica of them at the London Zoo as well?  They are two symbols recognizing two key areas of Winnie the Bear and the connection to the Fort Garry Horse Regiment.

It is with pride today, on April 12, 2012 that Winnipeggers and other people around the world can recognize the Fort Garry Horse Regiment for their entire 100 year history inclusive of so many events and so many great deeds.  To help appreciate the history of the Fort Garry Horse, come out to the parades on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the City of Winnipeg for 10:00 am and at the Manitoba Legislature for 11:45 am.  A new 100-year historial book called “Facta Non Verba” with 544 pages of information regarding the the Fort Garry Horse will be released this Friday and is available for sale.

For more information and details, see their website –

Mary Mikawoz is a freelance writer, visual artist and photographer.  She is also a teacher and new media specialist.

Fort Garry Horse – Gord Askew – Employee Extraordinaire

Gord AskewWhen you think of a federal government employee, unfortunately, we hear the comments and the generalizations that do not fairly apply.  As a past Government of Canada employee myself, I remember people being shocked that I worked or in their minds, “didn’t work.”  People assume that “bureaucrats” have taken advanced courses in being “red-tape specialists,” but this is not the case, especially when you meet an extraordinary employee like Gord Askew who does more than the specific duties his position entails.

Gord Askew has worked for Veteran’s Affairs Canada for over 28 years.  He is the Standards, Training and Evaluation Officer for Western Canada after having worked as a teacher.  He was seconded to work on the 50th anniversary of the Second World War Remembrance project called “Canada Remembers” in 1995.  During this time period, he was responsible for helping communities recognize the contributions that people made during the war effort and particularly the war veterans.  The federal government of the day took it as one of their important initiatives to recognize and learn from the past.  They provided information, education, support and funding to many communities and groups.  One of the first to come on board in Winnipeg was spearheaded by the Fort Garry Horse Regiment with retired Colonel Gary Solar and Honourary Colonel Jack McKeag.

They arranged a parade through Winnipeg, had ceremonies at the cenotaph and had a roll past at the legislature.  Jack McKeag saluted the then Lieutenant Governor Yvon Dumont and Premier Gary Filmon in a tank.  This is interesting in that Jack McKeag had already served as the Lieutenant Governor for the Province of Manitoba himself and now was on the other side of the salute.

In fact, Gary Solar arranged to have a special plaque of the five past existing Lieutenant Governors of the province made up and signed by each one.  Interestingly, many had some aspects of their personal lives representing some component of their involvement with the military.  Jack McKeag represented the Army, Pearl McGonigal represented the Air Force, George Johnson represented the Navy, Yvon Dumont represented the Métis and Aboriginals, and Francis Lawrence Jobin represented civilians.  Gord Askew was given one of these few plaques for being part of this organizational committee of the 50th events, as well as having received a special one from the then Governor General of Canada, Romeo Leblanc.

Another event that was very special was a medal display case that was nearly 20 feet long.  On the same fall day, it went from a Winnipeg Blue Bombers game earlier in the day to a Winnipeg Jets game that evening.  Every recognized Canadian medal that could be awarded was represented.  Many people were able to see this display during half time or intermission of their respective games back when the old football stadium and the old arena were in the Polo Park area.  Where warriors fight on the grid iron and on the solid ice in battle, people could now see the medals of real heroes that fought real battles of significance to humanity and the world.

For the work done by Gord Askew, the Fort Garry Horse appointed him an Honourary Member of the Association.  He then became a member at large, followed by duties as secretary and then has been President of the Fort Garry Horse Association for four years.  These past few years have been particularly busy and heavy laden with extra responsibilities as the Fort Garry Horse Regiment is celebrating 100 years of historical contribution to Winnipeg, to the province of Manitoba, to Canada as a country and to the Commonwealth.  From active involvement in World War I and II to Korea, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, the FGH has been contributing to war efforts and peacekeeping missions.  In an effort to keep people free and societies running well, the Fort Garry Horse Regiment has been part of the solution and like their motto, “Facta non Verba,” have shown “Actions speak louder than words.”  This is something that Gord Askew says is particularly important.  The FGH help with peace keeping, peacemaking and support communities in times of crisis be it fighting floods in Manitoba to distributing food hampers at Christmas time.

The community remembers and appreciates what the Fort Garry Horse has done and so each Remembrance Day the McGregor Armoury is packed to capacity.  This new location for Remembrance Day was started by Lieutenant Colonel David Atwell in 2003.  Gord Askew also points out that the soldiers gain growth, opportunity, leadership and teamwork with their training.  Gord Askew says “It isn’t about words…it’s about deeds.”

As veterans have been passing away each year since the war and progressively more so now, young people will forget what their parents and grandparents have sacrificed in the name that they may have privileges and benefits in living in a liberated country such as Canada.  Too many times, people take for granted the rights won by Canadian soldiers.  It is, for example, when Gord Askew took his son to a pilgrimage to Holland last year to not only recognize how the Fort Garry Horse fought there but stayed on to rebuild the cities after the war officially ended.  The Dutch communities remember and teach this to their young children.  Each child is given a Canadian grave to take care of and they do so with much care.  Gord Askew was able to show his son, Phillip, what had transpired not too long ago but also showed him the gravesite of his own Uncle who had died over there.  Luckily, Gord’s own father who was a tri-service member being with the Army reserves before the war, Navy during World War II and Air Force after the war, survived along with his mother who was a WREN.

In a similar fashion, Gord Askew has shown with action that he is much more than a federal government employee who punches the clocks to show up and leave.  He has taken an active interest and like predecessors in his own life has contributed.   His own lineage shows that he is a contributing member of society as an employee of the state and a participant to the cause. It is to thanks to members like Gord Askew who has contributed to the Fort Garry Horse family that they are releasing a 100 year history book on April 13, 2012 at McNally Robinson—-Book-Launch

They are also celebrating with special events the weekend of April 12 to April 15, 2012 for the 100th anniversary of the Fort Garry Horse Regiment.  For details as to events the public may attend, click here –

Mary Mikawoz is a freelance writer, visual artist and photographer.  She is also a teacher and new media specialist.

For more information – or contact or @MaryMikawoz

Fort Garry Horse – Larry Lajeunesse – Gatekeeper

One of those people who silently stays in the background being quiet about what he does and downplaying the full extent of work he accomplishes, simply explains Larry Lajeunesse.  He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Fort Garry Horse Regiment, who joined as a private in the spring of 1961, after high school.  By the fall of the same year, he was on the officer track.

Now and for the last few decades, he has been part of the Fort Garry Association and most particularly has served as one of the Directors of the Fort Garry Horse Museum.  Originally started in 1978, he has helped build it up to its current state along with many contributing members and volunteers.  For someone such as myself who has visited the Bow Museum in Calgary, the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, the National War Museum in Ottawa, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, this museum stands well to these other great historical collections for what it has and represents.    The space is small and can hardly contain all the photos, books, documents, and paraphernalia related to the Fort Garry Horse Regiment and the ongoing cavalry and armoured unit within the province of Manitoba.    The museum is now located in what was actually the accommodation for the past full-time custodian of the armoury and now has been converted to capture the history of the building and the people who have passed through the doors.

Each room represents a different era.  It would be very difficult to even try to explain the amount of information that is displayed in this museum but there are some interesting highlights.  The living room hosts World War I.  In it, you can not only find a cavalry statue of a mounted horse but also a mock tunnel of the terrible subsystems that was used in combat.  As well, there is an interesting display of the Unknown Soldier.  It was one of eleven Fort Garry Horse soldiers who died at Rifle Woods outside of Moreuil, France.  A French police officer, Christian Perrault, stepped on a bayonette.  He heard the crack and then started to dig.  He found the remains of a soldier who was then given a proper burial.  The remnants of what was found with the soldier’s body were sent back to the regiment, including collar dogs, buttons and other FGH insignia.

Word War II is represented in one of the bedrooms.  In this room, you can see pictures of the D-Day landing craft where the Fort Garry Horse sent in two squadrons.  There is also an American bazooka used by the Allies and an AK47 that belonged to the East Germans.  The East Germans gave the AK47 to museums when they were disbanded.  There is also an interesting story of how the Americans had not joined the war effort until 1941.  They were not able to sell actual tanks to Canada and so they took off the guns off and they were shipped to Canada as scrap metal.  With these partially-equipped tanks, the regiment trained drivers and mechanics as there were very few people who knew how to fix a broken down tank back then.

The second bedroom, proudly displays uniforms from the past including the classic-looking ceremonial blue patrols but also some white ones as well.  More recent uniforms such as fatigues and dessert pattern cadpat uniforms that were worn in Afghanistan are displayed.  At the back of the room is a special gun which was called the assassins pistol in World War II as it had a silencer and had luminous sights.

The hall way is full of a variety of pictures.  In the hallway are the medals of Colonel Cox.  He was the Commanding Officer at the start of the war in 1939.  However, he was too old to go into battle and so R.E.A. Morton became the Commanding Officer who happens to be the father of a famous Canadian historian, Desmond Morton.  More recent photographs represent what the Fort Garry Horse has contributed to in Afghanistan.

Closets throughout the apartment have been changed into shelves holding binders upon binders of photographs and boxes of letters written during the wars.  The back laundry home has been switched over to a work area where displays can be worked on.    The kitchen area has been converted into the library.  Larry Lajeunesse has spent countless hours of his own personal evening time collating the names of each person who has ever served in the regiment.  There are over eight full binders filled with nominal rolls for each year.  They represent many men and women who have joined and become part of the Fort Garry Horse Family.  As well, there are original photographs of the real Winnie the Bear, named after the city of Winnipeg, who was the mascot for the Fort Garry Horse Regiment before it became the basis of the famous books Winnie-the-Pooh Bear written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shephard.

The library holds numerous books on Canadian History and regimental histories of Canada.  Some of them were written by John Marteinson include “The Gallant Hussars,” and “The Canadian Armoured Corps.”  He also started writing the 100 year history of the Fort Garry Horse eight years ago but unfortunately passed away.  Mike McNorgan had collaborated with John Morteinson previously on “The Gallant Hussars.”  When John passed away, Mike McNorgan and Gord Crossley, Regimental Sargeant Major of the Fort Garry Horse took over the onerous task of sifting through years of information, photos and stories.  The book is finally to be released Friday, April 13, 2012 at McNally Robinson called “Facta Non Verba.”  For more information, click here –

Finally, one can not leave the museum without seeing the Guidon. The Guidon is a representation of the many battle honours the Fort Garry Horse Regiment has been a part of.    One of the two Guidons stands proudly in a display case at the Manitoba Legislature near the entrance way.  This Guidon is used on special occasions and will be used during the weekend of April 12 to 15, 2012 when the Fort Garry Horse celebrates its 100th anniversary with a number of events such as public parade at the City of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Legislature, followed with a formal cavalry gala event at the Fort Garry Hotel which also carries the same name sake.  For further information, click here –

Overall, the two directors, Larry Lajeunesse and Gord Crossley, represent the gatekeepers to the information and past of the Fort Garry Horse Regimental Museum and because of their hard work and dedication have made the past come alive.  It is only when young people start to learn from the past that we can change the future.

Mary Mikawoz is a freelance writer, visual artist and photographer.  She is also a teacher and new media specialist.

For more information – or contact or @MaryMikawoz

Fort Garry Horse – Stan Butterworth – A World War II Vet

Stan Butterworth

Stan Butterworth, WWII Veteran –   Photograph by Mary Mikawoz

This man who greets me at the door with a smile and rosy cheeks is 88 years young.  As he takes my coat, a courtesy of his generation and invites me to sit at his dining room table, we sit down for a chat that easily could have taken many more hours.

Stan Butterworth proudly shows me photos of his family and friends.  He shows me how his school team won the city-wide championship in soccer.  He then shows me a newspaper from 2005.  It is the edition that the Winnipeg Free Press put out to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.  In it, there are over 20 pages of soldiers who have died from the province of Manitoba.  He tells me that there are over 4000 soldiers who lost their lives in the second war just from our province alone.  He says this with much sadness and concern.  He discounts his own involvement with the war effort as a member of the Fort Garry Horse Regiment, an armoured unit to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

We talk about the past.  He tells me of how he joined up with his brother, Fred Butterworth.  They joined up at the Fort Osborne Barracks which is now home to the Izzy Asper Centre School and the Rose & Max Rady Jewish Community Centre near Assiniboine Park.  That location has a lot of memories for a lot of people.  They did their initial physical and aptitude training there.  Their choices at the time were between the armoured corps, the artillery corps or the service corps.  They chose to become armoured and so took on wearing the Black Beret as part of the Canadian Armoured Corp.

Training continued at the University of Manitoba.  There, the residential dorms were turned over to the military.  The famous, centrally located brick Administration Building of the University of Manitoba was turned partially into an Orderly Room.  The parking lot behind Dafoe Library, Fletcher Argue and Tier Buildings was turned into a parade square for the soldiers to practice on.  Many students of the University of Manitoba do not know the rich history of how their campus was used in the war effort.

For graduation, they marched down south to Elm Park Bridge beside where now the BDI stands, which for many Winnipeggers know is a great place to get ice cream before walking the very same bridge these soldiers were on.  The soldiers continued down St. Mary’s Road to what would now be close to the perimeter.  They had to cross back over to Pembina Highway and the only way they could do this back then was by crossing on a ferry.  They then headed back north to the University of Manitoba campus.

Having graduated this portion, they travelled to Camp Borden where they took more training with 13 weeks of gunnery and 13 weeks in wireless.  However, the Allies were preparing for D-Day and so every available soldier was being taken over to Europe in preparation.  This meant that Stan and Fred had to teach recruits even though they were not finished their own.  While the new people came in to learn the first portion, they also continued to learn on their own second part of the training program.  Finally, they headed to Nova Scotia and then onto a boat called the “Isle de France” in March 1944.

Their voyage was interesting as the ship left Halifax and started heading south as if to go to Africa but then during the night, it turned north back towards Europe.  He suspects that there were u-boats on their trail.  At various times, they were escorted by Corvettes and Sunderland Flying Boats.  Travel on the boat was another thing as mats were laid on the ship’s floor and then immediately above them were hammocks.  The ride was so rough that their boat was like a cork in water bobbing in the rocking waves.  Stan, Fred and a few others did not like this so at night time when they went into black out conditions for their own safety, they would sneak off and sleep in the lifeboats instead.  They made it to Scotland on April 1st, 1944.

As time went on, they made it to Aldershot, England which is only an hour from the famous Stonehenge Monument and is “Home to the British Army.”  This is where Stan and Fred received real “Advance Training” in preparation for going over.    They fought in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.  There is much more of a story here but not enough time or space to write it all down.  Let it be said that on April 13, 1945, Fred, Stan’s only brother, made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the war effort.

Stan came back and married his sweetheart, Hazel Carlson, had two sons of his own, naming the first one in honour of his brother and his family lineage.  He went on to live in various places in Western Canada with his family but returned to Winnipeg where he had renewed his interest and involvement with the Fort Garry Horse Regiment in 1975 to this day.

He, along with many other key people, was instrumental in having the Fort Garry Horse Memorial Monument placed in Assiniboine Park beside the Pavilion.  It stands tall and proud in reflecting the battle honours this regiment has been a part of.  Interestingly now, a 100 years has passed since its inception and the Fort Garry Horse have produced a history book to be released at McNally Robinson’s on April 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm in the Atrium.  For more information, see

In addition, the Fort Garry Horse is commemorating the 100th anniversary with a series of events including a parade at the City Hall and another at the Provincial Legislature to which the general public is invited.  There is also a Gala Cavalry Ball.  For more information, go to

Mary Mikawoz is a teacher, freelance writer, artist and photographer.  She was born and raised in Winnipeg and then lived in eight Canadian cities as an adult.  She has a wealth of knowledge with continuously learning at eight Universities and Colleges in Canada.  She has two University degrees and a College diploma.  She strives hard to produce work that is representative and is a very good reflection of people and their organizations.

For more information – or contact or @MaryMikawoz

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