Nanaimo Remembers, A look back on the city’s military past

November 10th, 2017

From Colonial Wars, WWI & WWII, the Cold War to today – the Canadian Military has been an active part of many monumental conflicts and peacekeeping efforts worldwide. Proudly joining the efforts along with other cities across the nation, Nanaimo has played a central role in many of these events.

On November 11, all of Canada will come together to honour and remember the countless men and women who have bravely fought and served our country and its allies. So as we prepare to honour our veterans this Remembrance Day, let’s take a look back some of the most significant events and figures in Nanaimo’s military history.

Militia arrives at the 1913 coal strike
During the great coal miners’ strike of 1912-1914, an outbreak of riots and violent unrest caused authorities to call in reinforcements. Over 1,000 ranks arrived to enforce law and order in the strike zone, occupying the area for over a year. To this day, the event remains the longest military occupation in civilian life in Canadian history.

Involvement in WWI & WWII
Given its prime location on the West Coast, Nanaimo was an active participant in both of the world wars. During WWI, Nanaimo hosted a large army training camp, while in WWII, the airstrip at what is today the Nanaimo Airport was used as a glider pilot training facility and a war-time emergency airfield. An influx of many single men in the city during these times made for exciting and patriotic times in Nanaimo’s history.

Raymond Collishaw
Born and raised in Nanaimo, Raymond Collishaw was one of Canada’s most famed fighter pilots and second in the roster of Canadian aces. Serving in both WWI & WWII, Collishaw scored 60 victories, taking down over 28 enemy aircrafts while surviving a number of close calls and crashes during his heroic career.

These accounts are just a small sample of Nanaimo’s significant role in Canada’s military history. To see, learn, and experience more, check out the Vancouver Island Military Museum with free admission after the Remembrance Day ceremony this Saturday.

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