It's time to thank our veterans for
keeping Canada strong and free.
Messages of Support

Say Thank You to Canada's Veterans

On Remembrance Day, show them how much you care

They stood on guard for thee. Now you can give these brave men and women something in return. On November 11th, you can raise a flag in support of our veterans and make their day.

Honour and give thanks for their sacrifice. Support Operation Raise a Flag today.

Our Veterans
Francess Georgina Halpenny
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)

Francess Halpenny was born on May 27, 1919 in Ottawa, Ontario. Her father was a druggist and was attached to the dispensary in the army during World War I. Her mother, a remarkable woman, was a homemaker who stayed home to look after the family. After the War, Francess, her parents and younger brother moved, first to Maxville in Eastern Ontario, then to Toronto. In 1941, she received her Master’s degree from the University of Toronto (U of T). By the fall of that year she had been hired by the Editorial Department at the U of T Press. One year later, she took leave from her position to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 5th Squadron -- Women’s Division.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” she said. With her educational background, her skill set was a good match to be selected as a Meteorological Observer. “The role required someone with a bit more education to understand and analyze the weather data collected and make a sensible response.”

For the next three years Francess served her country, spending most of her time stationed at the RCAF base in Torbay, Newfoundland -- eight miles north of St. John’s. At that time it was considered an overseas assignment. The base was an action station and home to fighter squadrons that played a vital role helping to keep the shipping lanes between the North Atlantic and Britain open.

Convoys of ships headed to England with much needed goods for its people along with military supplies and personnel, were high-value targets for the Germans. The Newfoundland coast can be extremely foggy. Having an accurate, up-to-date understanding of weather conditions on any given day, at any given time was critical to determining daily missions and defense flight paths for the squadrons – enabling them to carry out their duties as protectors of the convoys.

“Everything we did was of interest because the flyers depended on the information they were given,” says Francess. “Our job was to observe every hour of weather. We plotted the information we collected from other stations and shared what we collected from ours with them. We worked in eight-hour shifts providing round-the-clock coverage.

“When I enlisted, I had never been to Montreal let alone east of it. During my time in the RCAF, I got to know the Maritimes and became extremely fond of Newfoundland.” Francess spent most of 1945 in Prince Edward Island. The European war was winding down and the efforts turned to planes, personnel and supplies headed to the South Pacific.

Upon returning home, Francess resumed to her job at the U of T – beginning her life-long association with the University. Over the span of her career, she served as managing editor of the U of T Press, associate director (academic) and dean of the Faculty of Library Science. Her extensive body of work in the areas of academia, editing and librarianship reflect her diversity and dedication.

In 1979, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1984. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and awarded the Molson Prize for her editorial work on the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. She also received 11 honorary degrees from various Canadian universities.

Francess moved to Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in 2013. Her younger brother and his wife – both Veterans – are also residents.

In reflecting back on her time in the service, Francess had this to say: I was very glad to be able to serve. What we did was an integral part of the mission of the RCAF and I’m very proud of that. No one wants to have to serve, but if they do, they want to put their best effort forward because the lives of others depend on it.”

Don Stewart
Royal Canadian Navy

In the spring of 1942 and just shy of 17, Don enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Thanks to a phony letter of signed permission from his mother, he made it past the recruiting officer. Despite the fact that his parents were not on board with the idea, he ventured off to sea.

As a junior seaman and gunner, he spent three years on the defensively-equipped merchant ships (DEMS) zigzagging across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans delivering supplies during the Second World War.

"Moving across the Atlantic Ocean, at only eight knots, we were sitting ducks, for the German U-boats," says Don.

Over a period of three years, he saw more than 40 allied ships sink, fortunately he was never hit by a German U-boat or fighter bomber.

In one 1944 convoy, a ship sank with another man named Donald Stewart on board, and Don's parents were notified that their son had died at sea. With no mail delivery, Don did not keep in touch with his parents and so they were unaware of this error.

At the end of the war, he came home unannounced and shocked his father, a policeman who just happened to be at the train station meeting the soldiers returning.

"He usually didn't show much emotion, but that day he hugged me long and hard. I will never forget that feeling – there wasn't much talking," recalls Don.

His focus today as President of the Veterans & Community Residents Council, is to advise hospital administration in a constructive manner on issue related to the welfare of residents living in L-wing and K-wing, Canada's largest veterans care facility.

Back home in British Columbia Don served as Legion Branch President in both Penticton and Kamloops. He has been a proud and active member of the Royal Canadian Legion for sixty-eight years.

Friendships are very important to Don and at the Veterans Centre he keeps busy socially whether it's dinner out in the community, a Legion meeting in Niagara Falls or simply time together with his comrades in the Blythwood Social Club, a pub located onsite for residents and family members to socialize over a beverage.

Originally from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Don is the proud father of eight children, fifteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Canadian Armed Forces

John served with the 6th Canadian Armoured Corps, B Squadron known as the 1st Hussars. I received my call from the army in the summer of 1942, I was 21 but was exempt until the fall. I had been working up north near Wawa, Ontario running one of the machines that loaded pulp onto boats to be shipped to the US where they used it to make ammunition. Once the harbor froze over, I reported for duty in Toronto, then onto Sherbrooke, Quebec for basic training.

When we finished, they put us in a room and told us they needed tank men and radio operators. They asked if I was interested. I told them I didn’t know anything about Morse Code. They told me I didn’t have to. They wanted to know who could distinguish between the dits and dahs. I guess I could so I was picked and became a Canadian Armoured Corps Operator (CAC).

In the fall of 1943, John was shipped overseas. While in Europe, he and his regiment saw action in France, Germany and Holland.

I saw a lot of battles in Holland. We helped liberate the country. Thousands of men, women and children were dying because they had no food. Several days later, food supplies started to move through for the starving people. They were so happy and treated us well.

I also saw plenty of action in France, the most memorable coming just two weeks after we arrived. Closing the Falaise Pocket was a turning point in the war. The Allied armies had the German army surrounded. We were lined up in our tanks, loaded with ammo and fuel. We were told to go 12 miles per hour and not to stop unless we got knocked out or until we ran out of fuel. We were told to shoot out any buildings that looked like they might have snipers in them.

So much of the German Army was either captured or killed. Thousands of German prisoners surrendered their rifles and they were lying on the ground in a huge pile. Some prisoners were walking around. One young guy came up to me, he had a piece of black bread. He asked me to cut it in half for him, (all sharp items had been taken away from them), he wanted to share it with a friend.

When the war ended on May 7, 1945, I was at the airport in Wilhelmshaven, Germany getting ready to bomb the city the next morning. We were loading up our tanks with ammunition when someone came running and shouting, “The war is over! The war is over!”

My commanding officer came to me and said, “Hall you’re now on leave. A lorry will be here in an hour, get your things together, you’re going to London.” I got to London the next evening. Anyone in uniform couldn’t buy a drink, people were shoving beers at everyone. It was quite the celebration.

When asked about his thoughts on the war, John said, “ I can’t say that I hated the enemy, except the top Nazi Officers who wanted to kill everyone.” For the most part, those on the front lines were just young kids like us who were caught up in the same War that I was. I talked to prisoners. They all seemed to be nice guys. War is a foolish thing. There is nothing honourable about it. People killing people. There’s nothing to be honoured. I don’t think I would want to do it again but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it either.

Canadian Armed Forces

William (Bubba) Bacon describes his time with the Canadian military during World War II as a million dollar experience. “I wouldn’t have missed it for a million dollars but I wouldn’t want to do it again for a million dollars.”

Bubba was born in Toronto on December 27, 1919, the younger of two children. His father a painter/ decorator and his mother an office cleaner, separated when he was quite young. While he would split his time between living with each of them, he says he was raised 99 per cent of the time by his mother.

In 1940, when he was 20 years old and looking for adventure, he decided to enlist in the Canadian Militia. Promises of posting to Iceland drew him in. When it became obvious that that wasn’t going to happen, he and a few others moved over to the Canadian Scottish Regiment (16 CScotR) with hopes of being posted to Vancouver Island. However, after a brief initial training at Camp Borden north of Toronto, his unit shipped out to Debert, Nova Scotia to continue training before being sent overseas.

The Regiment arrived in Great Britain in August 1941 as part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. The next three years were spent in garrison duties, protecting the southern coast of England and training in preparation for the assault landings on Juno Beach in Normandy. On June 6, 1944, members of Bubba’s Unit were among those in the first wave ashore on that fateful day, sustaining heavy casualties. The rest of the battalion, including Bubba, followed in the second wave advancing further inland than any other landing force that day.

Bubba’s time in France came to a sudden halt in Putot-en-Bessin when a grenade he was disarming went off. As he looked down at his right hand as it dangled from his arm, his first thought was, “This is going to break my mother’s heart.”

Back home in Toronto, Bubba studied bookkeeping at a Toronto Business School. He eventually landed a job as an Information Clerk at Toronto City Hall where he worked for the next 30 years. Bubba met and married his wife Margaret, the sister of his best friend, upon his return from active duty. They had two daughters and 2 grandsons.

Bubba became an active member of the Canadian Scottish Association and remained in contact with a number of comrades he met during service. He has travelled back to France to Putot-en-Bessin where his grenade mishap took place for reunions on a number of occasions.

His message to young people today about his time in the military, “I was very happy to do it but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. When you sign those enlistment papers, you are handing over control of your life and from then on, you do what you are told. But if it means serving your country, you do it.”

Canadian Armed Forces

Mac enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Hamilton, Ontario at the age of 18. Following a year of training, he became a Navigator Bombardier and was posted overseas. After further training, he was posted with 101 Squadron in Lincolnshire, England.

Responsible for pinpointing enemy targets on bombing runs over Germany, Mac flew 33 successful sorties in a Lancaster aircraft. He was often in harm's way and feared the worst, as anti-aircraft fire and shells were firing at his aircraft.

"I was up in the front of the plane, right in the clear capsule, so I could see and feel everything along with sheer panic," says Mac. "I was a lucky one all right."

It was a miracle that no one in his plane, a special duty squadron was killed. The eight man crew (five English and three Canadians) included a German-speaking wireless operator, who intercepted and interfered with voice commands from ground units who were directing the enemy crews. The normal bombing crews had a seven-man crew.

Unfortunately, many of the Lancaster's in his squadron did not make it back. Out of 30 in his original squadron, 45 were shot down in just six months. New planes and crew where being added every day.

"I don't think any of us ever imagined it was going to be like it was," said Mac.

After the war, Mac returned to civilian life and eventually became President of Décor Metal Products, a division of Firestone Canada. At the time, they were the largest manufacturer of automotive safety seatbelts in Canada.

Good times and leisure now fill his days at the Veterans Centre. Mac has no complaints. Keeping physically and mentally active are key to his wellness. Now days though, he prefers to travel by bus rather than air, taking part in community and out of town bus trips. A highlight was when he visited the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton.

Family was and still is very much his priority. His son, two daughters, and two grandsons visit him at the Veterans Centre and take him home for family gatherings often.

For Mac, the war memories remain and are also meticulously tracked in his flight log book. The dates, hours, aircraft names, pilots, and places such as Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin are noted in pen, along with "191 lost" in February 1944 noted and tracked in pencil.


After joining up on her 18th birthday, Mary served in the Canadian Women's Army Corp. Her brother was in the air force and thus Mary wanted to do her part. "It was the thing to do and I was looking for some excitement I guess," she said.

In her youth, Mary sang on the radio for the Eaton's Good Deed Radio Club when she was only eight. Then following a Christmas concert in Ottawa, she was discovered and recruited by a scout for the Army Show.

As an entertainer and dancer, she performed in the Canadian Army Show for Allied Troops in England, Belgium, Holland, and Germany from 1943 to 1944.

Working with the show certainly brought its share of excitement. There was the orchestra, the singers, dancers and they even had their own cook. The show was entitled Show Boat and there were 35 in total in the show. Together six trucks crossed the channel, leaving from Surrey, England for a big adventure.

For Mary, the experience led her to the love of her life, a stage manager who signed up with the Army Show, when he could have been discharged from the army.

A member of the 1st Division, he'd been with the war since day one and had been involved in northern Africa and heavy fighting all over Italy. Luckily for Mary, he liked it there and didn't want to go home.

Today, Mary is still as active as ever, using a power scooter to get around. Her love of music is evident and always present, as she travels in style listening to an iPhone playing all the old jazz and classical favourites.

Each week on Wednesdays, Mary takes part in music therapy sessions offered at the Centre.

"It's about my health now and music therapy is good for my mental, physical, and emotional health. Fortunately, I was able to bring my organ here with me. I love to play for the other residents in my unit."

Mary Buchan Jarvis
Canadian Armed Forces

We Serve that men may fight – Canadian Women’s Army Corps Motto

“I really felt that we were threatened in a roundabout way. We had to help Britain and I felt that it was my duty to do all that I could.” And so began Mary Jarvis’ three year plus commitment to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) during World War II.

Mary enlisted in 1942 in Toronto. After completing four weeks of basic training, she received additional training as a driver on a number of vehicles. For the first three years of her time with the CWAC, she was based in Ottawa – providing transport services to the Canadian Armed Forces. On the ready 24 hours a day, Mary would deliver mail to the brigades and, when necessary, army personnel to the airfield. She even stepped in for a few days as a bus driver during the March 1943 transit strike in Montreal.

In early 1945, Mary was reposted to Farnbough, south of London, England. “When we signed up, we didn’t know we were going overseas. My main objective was to do what I could to help the Canadian effort here at home.  Going overseas was a bonus,” she said.

“While we were never in direct combat, we always had to be on high alert for enemy bombers.”   Mary’s role while overseas was that of ambulance or Blitz Buggy driver. (A Blitz Buggy was a jeep that was modified to carry the wounded).  “I remember making trip, after trip, after trip to the coast to pick up wounded Canadian soldiers returning from France,” she said. “To avoid detection by enemy aircraft, we’d go out under the cover of darkness. Our convoys consisted of two or three vehicles depending on the number of wounded.”

In Canada, they were trained to drive using headlights, but over there they couldn’t turn them on because they were in total blackout. “When we went out on convoy, there was just a little light on the left hand side of the lead vehicle – usually a motorcycle,” she said. “We followed that tiny red light with our lives. It was the same going back, except that we now had up to four wounded strapped to stretchers which were stacked two to a side, hanging off either side of our vehicles.”

There was always a male nurse who traveled with me in case the wounded needed help. “I couldn’t look after four people, drive and keep my eye on that little red light at the same time,” she said. “The saddest ones where those we had to take to the mental hospitals.  I don’t know how many of them ever came out. There was no opportunity to get acquainted with them because they were just too sick.

“It was sad, but it was also a good time in my life. The one thing that stands out for me is the camaraderie, the close bonds that were developed with living and working so closely together. We were all kids, with very little life experience. You could say we grew up together. “

Fred Allen
Canadian Armed Forces

Fred Allen never thought he'd fulfill his dream of graduating from Staff College, but with his sharp intellect, love of the Canadian Forces, and life-long passion for learning his dream did come true.

In 2013, Fred received an Honorary Graduate Certificate from the Canadian Forces College. "It was one of the best days of my life, I thrilled and grateful to receive this honour," said Retired Captain Fredrick (Fred) Allen. Chosen by the attending students of the College, the selection of an Honorary Graduate is based upon an individual who has had a profound and lasting impact on the members' learning experience at the College.

A retired career artillery soldier, Fred served for 31 years with the Canadian Armed Forces. As a second career, he taught mathematics in a Sault Ste Marie high school for fifteen years. At 22, he spent six years overseas and faced constant danger. As an artillery soldier, he saw a great deal of gunfire, firing across the canals in Belgium and Holland during the Second World War.

Always an avid learner with a flair for writing, Fred is the author of five books. At Sunnybrook Fred loves to mingle with the other veterans. Happiness is being in Warriors' Hall together with his comrades and seeing all of the veterans gathered together. Fred especially loves when the young commanders from the College come to the Veterans Centre to visit with the old soldiers, share old stories and enjoy afternoon entertainment together.

For two decades, Sunnybrook veterans have enjoyed a strong relationship with the College. Several times a year a group of veterans go on a short bus ride to the Canadian Forces College to enjoy interesting conversation and a delicious luncheon at the Officers' Mess, the old manor on the expansive grounds.

Doug Scott
Canadian Army

In 1950, Doug volunteered at the age of 22, to join the Special Forces Canadian Army and serve in the Korean War. A Lieutenant in the Army, he was the Officer in Command of a transportation unit along with other duties as assigned. He served in harsh and difficult conditions. As the brigade sports officer, he was responsible for building a 440-yard track to be used for an athletic meet, a couple of miles behind the front lines. Recreation was important: running, field events, softball, anything to keep the troops busy and happy.

The field had to be level and any explosive munitions had to be blown up. This was most important part. The lines of the track were made from mine-laying tape. On July 1st, 1953 just before the end of the war, there was a meet with all of the British units participating. Three hundred athletes and one hundred and fifty officers and non-commissioned officers, lined up to march past the reviewing stand. It looked like a commonwealth parade.

Every summer, Doug and the other Korean War Veterans who live at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre, attend a memorial service at the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance in Brampton. Twenty-seven thousand Canadian soldiers left their loved ones behind to fight for freedom and democracy. Five hundred and sixteen of them did not come home.

Jack Ford
Royal Canadian Air Force

At 20, Jack Ford saw the world through a different lens, when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and landed a spot in the, 414 Photo Unit Squadron. Carrying a small accordion style camera with him at all times, his job was to document history in action: civilians and children on the roadside, aerial views of bombed towns and sometimes still burning German enemy targets.

In order to shoot the aerial shots, a special camera was mounted behind the pilot of a Spitfire airplane. Together, he and his squadron took thousands of photos. Processing would take place in a rushed manner in the back of a truck, somewhere on the side of the road.

His most memorable event was soon after D-Day, when Winston Churchill unexpectedly showed up with British Field Marshall, Bernard Montgomery and King George VI for a surprise visit near Caen, France. Jack, a kid at the time, was shaking with fear, hardly able to hold the camera steady.

After the war, as an advertising executive in Toronto, Jack continued his affiliation with photography, when he worked with images and creative story boards to develop new ad campaigns.

For four years he has lived in the veterans' residence at Sunnybrook. Each week he visits his wife and true love Joan, who is in a nursing home only a short distance from the hospital. Along with distance, dementia has come between them.

Some days she knows he is there and other times he's not so sure. "It's not the way I planned things would be, but I've come to accept it," he says.

At the Veterans Centre, Jack looks forward to regular sessions in the photography studio with his art therapist. Together, they work with Jack's collection, discussing the different wartime scenes and scanning them onto a large iMac computer.

"Even though I have macular degeneration and have very little sight left now, I have realized a new passion for photography and best of all my collection of old war photos, has been brought back to life!"

William (Bill) Mogavero
Canadian Armed Forces

Bill was a Gunner in the Korean War.  He enlisted in the army at Chorley Park in Toronto, Ontario in August 1950 when he was 21. He felt it was something he had to do. The Korean War had just begun and both of his brothers had served during WWII.  From Toronto, he went to Petawawa where he was outfitted before shipping out to the Canadian Forces base in Shilo, Manitoba for basic training.

One memory that stands out for Bill is the Canoe River train crash that happened  November 20, 1951. “Our group, 23 officers and 315 men of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA) were on route to Fort Lewis, Washington for additional training before being deployed to Korea. The railroad dispatcher had mistakenly put two trains on the same track in the Rocky Mountains near Valemount, British Columbia. Ours an older, wooden train and a more modern steel train – the Transcontinental Flyer met on a curve, neither seeing the other one coming, and hit head on.”

The damage to the older train was severe. Seventeen Canadian soldiers were killed - more casualties than the unit suffered during its first year of fighting in Korea. ““We were all taken back to Banff, Alberta by a train that had a mother engine added to it so the injured, many badly burned by stream, could be treated. The rest of us were re-outfitted. We waited for the track to be repaired and resumed our trip to Washington to complete our training.”

From Seattle, the men got on an American ship and crossed the International Date Line on route to Korea.  “The trip took several days and we arrived either late January or early February 1951. We drove up the front, eventually setting up camp north of the 38th Parallel in enemy territory. As a gunner, my job was to fire a 25-pounder field gun which was mounted and pulled on a trailer.  We’d set up several kilometres behind the frontline troops.  We supported the Princess Patricia’s and the Van Doos. The Major, who was also on the frontline, would give orders and radio the coordinates for us to fire. If wrong, he would readjust them and we fired again. This continued until we hit the intended target.

During this time they were deployed on or near Hill 355 so named on military maps because it was 355 metres above sea level.  The Hill was strategically located just north of Seoul and was highly valued because it was the highest ground overlooking the surrounding front lines and supply routes. Bill recalls that they took a severe pounding there as both sides fiercely fought to gain control.

Bill’s 18 month military commitment turned into two years. He returned to Canada on July 27, 1953.   “When they sent replacements, you went home,” he said. Upon his return, his brother bought him a dump truck and he went into the trucking and excavation business during the summer. In the winter, he drove trucks for Texaco, Canada for 15 years delivering furnace oil until they shut down their Canadian operations. He later worked with Canada Post as a driver and letter carrier, and the TTC as a wheel-trans driver. He has 5 boys and 11 grandchildren.

“There’s no need for young people to die. If you see death in the field, it’s not glamorous like the movies. I start thinking of my children and my grandchildren. I don’t want that for them. I’m lucky I came out unscathed, but a lot didn’t. A lot of them bear scars that you’ll never see.”

About Operation raise a flag

Sunnybrook officially opened in 1948 as a war veterans' hospital; a place to care for heroes.

Today, as the largest veterans care facility in the country, in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, we are honoured to provide the best cognitive, physical, mental health and stroke care to 475 Canadian veterans of the Second World War and Korean War.

What is the Raise a Flag campaign?

As the largest veterans’ care facility in Canada, we offer long term and complex hospital care for vets from the Second World War and Korean War.

In honour of this Remembrance Day, Operation Raise a Flag will help raise funds in support of the Veterans program at Sunnybrook.

Please consider making a donation in honour of our veterans. With your support, 30,000 flags will be planted around our campus for Remembrance Day as a symbol of honour and appreciation.

Where does my money go?

It is the mission of the Veterans Centre to assist each and every resident to achieve their best possible life experience while they are at Sunnybrook. Your gift will help Sunnybrook Veterans Centre provide the very best cognitive, physical, mental health and stroke care to 475 Canadian veterans of the Second World War and Korean War. We believe our brave veterans deserve nothing less.

By giving today, you help ensure that every veteran we care for spends their time in comfort, benefitting from the best medical equipment and most compassionate care possible.

How can I make a donation?

By clicking the donate now button on this page.
Telephone: 1-866-696-2008
In person: Foundation Office KGW01
Mail in your donation: Sunnybrook Foundation, 2075 Bayview Avenue, KGW01, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

How much are flags?

Each flag costs $25.

Will I receive a tax receipt?

Yes. If you order your flag online, a tax receipt will be issued immediately to the email address provided.

If you order through the mail or in person, a tax receipt will be placed in the mail and received within 10 business days.

Can I purchase a flag for my mother, father, etc.?

Yes, you can. However, the tax receipt will be made out to the individual making the donation.

How long will flags remain on the lawn?

We cannot guarantee the lifespan of these paper flags. Weather permitting, the flags will remain on the lawn throughout Remembrance Day and will be removed the morning of Monday, November 13th.

What will happen to the flags after Remembrance Day?

Flags are collected and recycled.

Where are the flags manufactured?

The flags are manufactured in Ontario and purchased from a local retail vendor — The Flag Shop.

Can I dedicate my flag to a particular veteran?

The flags will be planted on the grounds and messages will be combined for the veterans. If there is a specific veteran that you wish to honour, we will do our best to pass the message along to him/her.

Can I keep my flag?

This is not possible as the flags are not personalized and are planted all together.

How can I volunteer?

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Operation Raise a Flag! All positions for this volunteer opportunity have been filled.