By Roger Currie
This week is about remembering. For me, it frequently turns thoughts to two friends who are no longer here, but suddenly this year they are strongly connected. Next spring and summer I will make a special trip to the Duck Mountains in southwest Manitoba, and at least dip my toes in the water of Chadderton Lake.
The province has named it in memory of Cliff Chadderton, who was quite possibly Canada’s best-known veteran of World War II. Cliff and I both graduated from Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, and we both attended the University of Manitoba, but neither of us came away with a degree.
Many of Cliff’s high school pals joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and too many of them did not come home.
Chadderton chose the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, and while serving in Holland in 1944, he was hit by a grenade and lost his right leg. Until the day he died, 69 years later, Cliff was in excruciating pain, but he made the most of what was left.
He became well known as CEO of the War Amps, and he also produced some outstanding documentaries. One of them is called “The Boys of Kelvin High,” recalling his pals who are buried over there.
The other friend I remember fondly is Floyd Williston, a native of Nova Scotia who moved to Winnipeg in the 1950’s and never left.
Floyd didn’t get to wear a uniform in the Second World War, but he suffered a huge loss when he was just 11-years-old. He answered the door when a telegram arrived with the news that two of his brothers had been shot down and killed.
You don’t ever get over an experience like that.
Many years later, Floyd decided to do something meaningful in his adopted province which used to claim 100,000 Lakes on the license plate. Williston was the driving force behind a program to name some of those lakes, in memory of young flyboys who never came home.
What a splendid idea it has turned out to be, and how nice that one of those lakes now bears the name of another dear friend.
A huge thank you to all the Canadians who answered the call and did what had to be done.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.