Operation Raise a Flag, Sunnybrook
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.

You can also share a message of support and thanks with our brave Veterans today.

Say Thank You to Canada's Veterans

Our Resident Veterans
Morris Adams
Morris Adams
Canadian Army
Morris Adams

Morris Adams was born in 1926 and grew up playing stick and puck with his friends in the Spadina and Dundas neighbourhood of Toronto. Like many in his neighbourhood, both of his parents were new immigrants, his father from Ukraine and his mother from Austria. Morris grew up during the Great Depression, and fortunately his father’s work as a barber and mother’s role at a garment factory helped them through the tough times.

When the Second World War began, Morris was just starting high school at Harbord Collegiate, so joining the army was not in his sights. Being too young to take part in the war effort, Morris and his friends were unaware of the events taking place overseas. He would continue to finish high school until he was conscripted in April 1945. Shortly after reporting to Camp Borden in northern Ontario for training, the war had ended.

During both world wars, there was a stigma surrounding one’s choice to volunteer for service. Morris described the feeling as “almost shameful to choose not volunteer,” by the end of the war, this stigma was gone. Service in the pacific was on a volunteer-basis and Morris made the decision to stay at home in Canada.

Even though he chose to stay home, Morris continued with the army to help with the administrative work that came with the end of the war. Without the help of computers like we have today, Morris had a mountain of documents and paperwork that needed to be filed.

Remembrance Day reminds Morris of how lucky he is. Many young men his age lost their lives and would not have the chance to experience the many joys that come with growing up and adulthood.

Philip Daniel
Philip Daniel
Canadian Army
Philip Daniel

Born in 1925, Philip Daniel grew up on a farm in Toronto with his siblings and parents, who were both part of the war effort during the Great War. Philip’s father served in WWI and was once badly gassed and had to return home. His mother, who was originally from England, was in the Royal Flying Corps until she moved to Canada after the end of WWI. Under a program that allowed early entry to the military, Philip joined the army at age 17 and later joined the regular forces after turning 18.

After training as part of the First Hussars of the Tank Corp at Camp Borden in northern Ontario, Philip made his way to Halifax where he then took the Mauretania, a British ocean liner, to Liverpool, England in 1943. While stationed in Aldershot, he had time to visit London and local pubs in between training. He even met Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) while she was serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Services, the women’s branch of the British Army.

Philip would soon make his way across the English Channel during the summer of 1944 after D-Day. The Canadian Army saw some battles as they moved through Belgium and into Holland before ending in northern Germany. Philip remained in Germany several weeks after the end of the war when he visited Bergen-Belsen and saw the devastating aftermath of the concentration camps and listened to tragic stories from survivors.

In hopes of returning home to Canada sooner for training, Philip volunteered to serve in the war in Japan. He continued to serve with the Canadian Army for 34 years. Philip was wounded while serving in the Korean War and again in Egypt after a land mine went off, but that did not stop him from continuing to represent Canadian military efforts. He also served on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai in Israel.

After his time in the Army, Philip settled in the GTA with his wife and three children, and began working for the school board in Bowmanville. Every Remembrance Day, Philip reflects on the people and friends that he met during his time in the Army that were left behind.

Stan Dinney
Stan Dinney
Royal Canadian Air Force
Stan Dinney

Stan Dinney was born in 1922 in New Brunswick and moved to Windsor, Ontario with his family as a baby. Shortly after, during the Great Depression, Stan moved back to New Brunswick after his father got a job at his family’s lumber mill. Stan’s father was a part of the army in 1914 and went oversees to many countries, including Türkiye.

Stan was an athletic child and teen, and particularly enjoyed playing baseball. Despite his dreams of moving to the United States to play baseball, Stan made the decision to join the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 like many of his friends and young men in his neighbourhood. At the same time Stan joined the RCAF, his younger brother joined the Royal Canadian Navy.

After finishing his armourer’s course as part of his training, Stan went to Calgary where he volunteered to take a fellow soldier’s places oversees. In the winter of 1942, Stan was sent to England on the Orion troopship, where he spent a lot of time in the Crow’s Nest on the lookout for U-boats. His journey across the Atlantic in the winter was rough and many of his crewmates got seasick.

Upon his arrival to England Stan was sent to Drem, a military base just outside Edinburgh, where he worked with Beaufighters, a plane that consisted of one pilot and a gunner. Stan later switched over to a Mosquito aircraft, which he enjoyed flying much more. After his time in Europe, Stan was deployed to South Asia in 1943 and visited places like Bombay and Sri Lanka. During this time, his squadron was unaware of the events taking place throughout Europe and the Pacific.

In April 1945, Stan returned home to New Brunswick where he was stationed at a repair depot. There he would strip the guns from Lancaster bomber planes. Stan was discharged from the RCAF in Halifax on VJ Day.

Stan is one of the many Veterans featured in The Last Salute - Portraits of Remembrance. Courage. Wisdom. Sacrifice. Joy. This book was commissioned to mark the 75th anniversary of Sunnybrook’s Bayview campus, which first opened as Sunnybrook Military Hospital in 1948. It features 40 of Sunnybrook’s Centenarian Veterans, powerful portraits photographed by Yuri Dojc, and stories and interviews by journalist, Alannah Campbell.

Clayton (Clay) Hayes
Clayton (Clay) Hayes
Canadian Army
Clayton (Clay) Hayes

In the fall of 1944, 17 year old Clayton (Clay) Hayes hopped a freight train headed to the West Coast of British Columbia from his home in Brandon, Manitoba and enlisted in the Canadian Merchant Navy. His brother was already serving with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). His father had served with the Merchant Navy (United Kingdom) during World War I (WWI). Stationed in Vancouver, Clay was assigned to the Goldstream Park merchant ship. Merchant ships carried vital cargo to the people affected by the war (food / clothing) as well as much needed military supplies (aircraft, tanks, guns and munitions) and whatever else was required for the war effort.

The Goldstream traveled down the Pacific coast, through the Panama Canal to New York Harbor where it would become part of a convoy of 80–90 ships gathering from across the United States and Canada before heading across the Atlantic to England. Because of its vital cargo, the convoy was a prime target for enemy surface raiders and U-boats. Part of Clay’s job as an Able Bodied Seaman was either to man the crow’s nest, on watch for enemy subs and aircraft, or to be at the wheel steering the ship.

Clay recalls that on one trip leaving from Vancouver, they were hit by a severe storm off the coast of California. All hands were on deck, trying to save the lumber secured to the deck with chains. The storm was so bad, they lost all the lumber and a number of crewmen (including a friend of his) were badly injured. The injured were taken to a hospital in San Pedro, California before the Goldstream renewed its trip.

One of the scariest moments came while unloading their cargo at the Surrey Commercial Docks in southeast London. The fleet got hit numerous times by unmanned German planes launched from German occupied France. Although the bombs landed close by, their ship was not hit. Others were and lives were lost. After the war ended in 1945, Clay stayed on for another two to three years to help with the post war rebuilding efforts.

Upon his return home, Clay married Margaret Doyle and together they raised four children (three daughters and a son). Over the course of his working life, Clay owned and operated several small businesses in the Toronto area including one that manufactured menu covers and another that sold industrial latex to art supply stores across Canada and the United States. He retired at the age of 85. Margaret passed away in 2010 at age 82.

When asked about his war experience, Clay is positive. “I’d do it again for sure,” he said. “The whole war experience was very good. I’m very proud of the role that the Merchant Navy played in providing desperately needed equipment, fuel, food and personnel to Europe and around the world.”

Tom Instance
Tom Instance
Royal Canadian Navy
Tom Instance

Tom Instance was born in Toronto in 1924. At the young age of 14, Tom left school so that he could help his family provide for his four siblings during the tough times of the Great Depression. While his father was driving for the TTC, Tom worked delivering newspapers, groceries, and doing whatever he could to help out. He even helped at a shipyard where he caught rivets that were used to build equipment for the war.

When he became of age, Tom enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy. He was inspired by his father who had served in the Royal Navy in England before moving to Canada. After he completed his training, he was assigned to the HMCS Uganda, a light cruiser in the Royal Navy which was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in the later years of WWII. On board the Uganda, Tom worked in the engine room and ensured that those working there were safe and did not get too hot.

Tom has fond memories of spending time on the Uganda. He spent lots of time on the mess deck with his crewmates, and sleeping in hammocks under the torpedoes!

During his time during the war, Tom went overseas a small number of times. He mainly worked in navy yards along the American coast, travelling back and forth from Canada bringing important equipment parts. He also once travelled through the Suez Canal to Egypt. During his service, Tom witnessed some battle as planes would fly and shoot overhead the ship.

At the end of the war, Tom was discharged in Vancouver and he then returned home to his wife and child.

Sang Woong Lee
Sang Woong Lee
South Korean Army
Sang Woong Lee

Born in 1930, Sang Woong Lee spent most of his life in South Korea raising a family of six, and immigrated to Canada later into his adult life.

He spent many years with the Korean Army, and was deployed for service in the Korean War. He fought in the notable Battle of Incheon. He was specifically involved with the Incheon Landing, also known as Operation Chromite. He was also one of the members of the Army Unit that planted the South Korean flag at the centre of Seoul’s government building after two weeks of fighting. Thus, reclaiming the city and signifying its return to the government on September 29th, 1950. What a momentous moment to be a part of at the young age of 20.

After the war he then carried on in his career as military police. He also spent time in Vietnam and Saudi Arabia fulfilling various other roles. Now at the age of 91 (as of 2021) he resides at the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook.

Richard Ratcliffe
Richard Ratcliffe
Royal Canadian Navy
Richard Ratcliffe

When Richard Ratcliffe left his home in St. Catherines, Ontario to enlist at age 17, he was on a quest for adventure, eventually travelling far from the Royal Canadian Naval College in British Columbia to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Western Pacific, as well as seeing active service during the Korean War.

As a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, Richard participated in daring missions around the world, buoyed by a sense of pride in being able to defend the interests of the United Nations and NATO over the course of a successful military career that spanned roughly 25 years.

He rose through the ranks, serving aboard 12 ships and ultimately as Commander of the famed destroyer the HMCS Qu’Appelle, with a crew of 230. During the Korean conflict from 1950 to 1952, he helped provide anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence, which included escorting an aircraft carrier flying strikes into North Korea.

Following active duty, Richard served another five years with the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve. Subsequently, he worked for the Maritime Council of Premiers in the Nova Scotia government, and as head of the residence at St. Mary’s University. In 1981, he and Mary Patricia, his wife of almost 50 years, established Cumberland County Knitters, a cottage industry that manufactured hand-knit sweaters and fashion accessories.

While Richard’s naval career was filled with drama, one of the highlights of his life took place in 2017 when he soared over Niagara Falls by helicopter with his grandson Joe as part of the Sunnybrook Veterans Grant a Wish, a program made possible by donor support. Viewing Niagara Falls from the air had been a life-long dream of his. "As children, the Falls were always an attraction for us. The ride lasted just 12 minutes, but for me, it was the trip of a lifetime."

His "can do" attitude and leadership abilities still characterize Richard at age 92 (as of 2020). As a resident in Sunnybrook’s Veterans Centre, he’s enjoying sharing stories and memories with his fellow Veterans, but he lives very much in the present. In 2017, he was elected president of the Veteran and Community Residents’ Council. What’s more, that year he was also featured on the Toronto Star front page as one of three Veteran bearers of the Invictus flag.

Richard's adventure continues, this time in service of his fellow Veterans with whom he shares his youthful spirit and love of life. "The war was exciting, but right now is just as exciting," he exclaims. He is visibly moved when expressing his gratitude to Sunnybrook Veterans Centre for the outstanding care he has received. In 2017, Richard said "We’re 475 of the most privileged people in Canada. We’re treated like royalty every day."

Oswald Reece
Oswald Reece
Canadian Army
Oswald Reece

Born in Guyana in 1951, Oswald “Ozzie” Reece immigrated to Canada when he was just 13 years old. His grandfather fought with the British Army in both WWI and WWII, and his father, uncle and brothers all served. As a result of his military family influence, Ozzie joined the Canadian Forces as part of the 48th Highlanders of Canada when he was 21. Ozzie once said “I was an infantry man and for me that was bang-on because I was like Top Gun, I was a marksman.”

Based out of Toronto, the 48th Highlanders of Canada is a Canadian Forces Primary Reserve infantry regiment. This regiment plays an important role in the City of Toronto, participating in many community events and functions. In 1998, this regiment provided a full royal guard for Queen Elizabeth II.

Ozzie was a part of the 48th Highlanders for 34 years. As a Sergeant, he served in countries all around the world. He was deployed to Israel, Egypt, Golan Heights, Cyprus and more on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations. He also trained in places across Europe, including Germany, as part of NATO. Ozzie was promoted to Regimental Quartermaster after returning to Canada, where he served as an instructor at Moss Park Armoury for 25 years.

Today the Canadian Forces are made up of individuals of all different races, backgrounds and genders, but when Ozzie served, he noted the lack of diversity. As one of the few soldiers of colour at the time, he made sure he stood up for respect.

Marion Sawers
Marion Sawers (nee Ritchie)
Canadian Women's Army Corps
Marion Sawers

Born and raised in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, Marion had been teaching in Nova Scotia from 1937-1944 after graduation from Normal College. In 1944, however, Marion decided to sign up with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. She had hoped that she would be assigned overseas, somewhere like London, England. Along with 45 other CWACs, Marion attended basic training at Camp Borden, Ontario.

Since Marion had previously been a teacher, the army made use of her teaching skills giving her the job of instructing CWACs as clerks and clerk stenographers, as well as classes in Canadian Military Law, etc., in Ottawa.

At the cessation of hostilities, Marion was appointed to the Medical Headquarters where she was employed as a statistician on war injuries under Colonel Crawford. She particularly worked on statistics on Canadian prisoners of war with the Japanese, one of whom had been Colonel Crawford himself. A very memorable event from this work was a gathering together of the Japanese prisoners of war who were on their way to Tokyo to partake in the Japanese war crimes trials. Marion and others met them all as a group at the CWAC Sergeant’s Mess. This can best be described as a happy event as these men were survivors, but it was also the most traumatic event that Marion ever attended, knowing these men’s stories.

Marion was demobilized from the military after her time at the Medical Headquarters. Shortly thereafter, she married John Sawers who was in the Canadian Intelligence Corps at the time. John and Marion had 65 years of marriage, lived in four Canadian cities but resided mostly in Ottawa, where they raised their two daughters. They retired to their home in the country near Portland, Ontario, and also enjoyed their time travelling to many countries over the years. John was admitted to Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in the last months of his life, passing away in 2012, and a year later, Marion came to live at Sunnybrook. She still enjoys activities such as Art Therapy and cooking classes, but Marion’s favourite place is out in the lovely garden area at Sunnybrook. Marion is 104 as of September, 2021.

Jean Vanwart
Jean Vanwart
Canadian Women's Army Corps
Jean Vanwart

Jean joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) in 1943, in Ottawa and didn’t tell her parents because she was afraid they would disapprove. It turns out, when her Dad found out, he was so proud of her that he had her picture put in the local paper in Huntington, Quebec.

“Basic training was where I learned discipline - to march seven or ten miles, to have our army cot stripped, bedding rolled, shoes and buttons shined and to be on parade at 7a.m sharp. I also learned how to assemble and wear gas masks and how to shoot 303 rifles,” says Jean.

After a couple of days' leave to say goodbye to family and friends, she boarded a troop train to Halifax harbour. There were 70 CWAC and thousands of soldiers. They marched up the gang plank and into the beautiful luxury liner – the Aquitania, stripped of all her luxuries.

She carried all of our own equipment – a huge kit bag, a haversack, a regulation purse, and orders as to who we were and what unit we were with. Once on board she realized there was no turning back. They were on our way to the greatest adventure of their lives!

All CWAC personnel were kept in a group with escorts and guards. They were billeted in a huge state room lined with army cots. Because the portholes were covered, they enjoyed the luxury of air-conditioning. The bathroom had showers but the water was sea water and we couldn't get any lather from the soap. Such was army life!

The troop ships travelled in convoy. She’ll never forget the night they had orders to remain in full uniform and to wear our life jackets. “The ship engines were turned off and no one was allowed to make a sound. The silence was deafening. All lights were extinguished. We were terrified,” remembered Jean. “There was an enemy submarine in the vicinity and if it located our convoy, we would be torpedoed and sunk. Many prayers were silently said. Toward dawn, the engines began to hum. The enemy was gone and we continued on our way.”

After seven days at sea, they arrived at Grenock, Scotland and from there travelled by train to Aldershot, England, the oldest army base in history. After a few weeks Jean was allocated to her permanent base which was in in Farnborough, 30 miles south of London.

Planes roared overhead – Spitfires high in the sky and Lancasters flying in formation below them like our migrating geese. Broken formations when the planes were returning from their missions meant some had been lost in action or taken as prisoners of war.

Jean was sent overseas as a Clerk Typist and was placed in the medical surveys unit. Across the street was the transport headquarters where the staff and duty cars travelled all over England. Realizing that she was missing a great opportunity to see the country, she transferred to the driving unit. Driving on the opposite side of the road in blackouts and fog was hazardous but exciting.

Returning to the depot after a back injury, Jean noticed a new driver to the unit – Elgin Vanwart. It was love at first sight. “Little did I know, we would be married for 71 years!!”

“It took a lot of courage to stick it out over there and we couldn't let our emotions get the better of us,” says Jean. “We eventually became accustomed to the steady vibrations of the planes, day and night. One night, we were at a lecture and a bomber came directly over our building. We were paralyzed with fear. Lucky for us, the bomb landed in a field behind us. There were no casualties.”

“During my three years in England, I saw the devastation that war can cause,” Jean shared. “There were rolls of barbed wire everywhere; London was literally full of holes from the continuous bombing. There were miles of cots set up in the subways for those who had lost their homes. The English were very brave and I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to spend time with them.”

After the war, officers arranged it so that Elgin and Jean could come home on the same ship. After they were married in 1946, they started a family – Marion, Sandra and Bill, all of whom have lived rich and interesting lives.

“The heartbeat of the army will always be with us – a part of us. We lived for today because tomorrow was an unwritten script – a dot on the edge of eternity. We were lucky – for all those young men and women who never made it home, our hearts still bleed, but if we could do it all again – we would.”

Both Jean and Elgin have called the Veterans Centre home. Elgin sadly passed away in 2017. Jean is now 102 year of age, as of 2021.

About Operation raise a flag

Sunnybrook officially opened our doors 75 years ago 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 over 200 Canadian Veterans of the Second World War, Korean War and the Cold 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 Veterans.

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 the Sunnybrook campus for Remembrance Day as a symbol of honour and appreciation. In addition, we will continue to honour the contributions made by First Nations, Inuit and Métis Veterans in service to Canada by including artwork designed by Indigenous artist, Philip Cote.

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 over 200 Canadian Veterans. We believe our brave Veterans deserve nothing less.

This year, your generous contribution will help provide new state of the art gym and library facilities at the Veterans Centre as Sunnybrook continually strives to deliver exceptional care.

Download our Veterans Impact Report to read about the difference your donation makes.

How can I make a donation?

Click to Donate here
Telephone: 1-866-696-2008
Mail in your donation: Sunnybrook Foundation, 2075 Bayview Avenue, KGW01, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

When you generously donate $500 or more to Operation Raise a Flag, we will send you the new keepsake book The Last Salute as a token of our thanks.

How much are flags?

Every donation will raise a flag.

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, 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 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 provided when making a donation 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.

You can volunteer on November 10 and help plant 30,000 Canadian and Indigenous artwork flags on the Sunnybrook grounds creating a patriotic sea of red and white. Our Veterans will awaken on Remembrance Day knowing that you care about their great sacrifice.

Registration is now closed for 2023.

How will the flags be planted on Sunnybrook Campus this year?

This year, we are pleased to invite back volunteers from our community, Sunnybrook staff, and a group from the Canadian military to plant the flags to ensure the Veterans are honoured for their service.

What is the meaning behind the Indigenous artwork?

The artwork was created by Philip Cote, an Indigenous artist, activist, educator, historian, cultural advisor and Ancestral Knowledge Keeper from Moose Deer Point First Nation. Citing all of his ancestry, he is Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi, Ojibway, Algonquin and Mohawk.

Philip created this drawing to commemorate the long tradition of service and sacrifices in war of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit people of Canada. Each element of the flag is rich in symbolism. The buffalo represents Indigenous ancestors and another nation, indicating we are in a circle connected together on the same level. The medicine wheel is divided into four colours, where the buffalo sits in the west, the turtle in the east, the eagle in the south and the bear in the north. The east is where the sun rises, so that represents the beginning of life.

The magnificent crimson colours of the poppies are also significant as they symbolize sacred fire, a common aspect of Remembrance Day ceremonies. During these ceremonies, people are invited to say a few words for their ancestors, the ones that fought in war. An offering is made along with offering thanks for their deeds.

Learn more about Philip and his artwork.