For centuries throughout the Northern Hemisphere, May Day has been a traditional day of festivities celebrating the arrival of spring. Towns and villages throughout Europe would hold gatherings. With seeding mostly completed, farmers would often give their labourers a day off. To this day, May Day is a national public holiday in several countries, many of which refer to it as Labour Day or International Workers Day.
Growing up as a post-war baby boomer, I’ve often thought the Second World War cast a shadow over my childhood and youth. My father lived through occupied France between the ages of eight and 13. My close friend’s father was a veteran who had marched north up the Italian peninsula with the Canadian Army. My grandmother would speak sadly of her older brother, who was lost when his plane went down while serving in the air force. War left a strong impression on these people which took a long time to process, not only touching them but also those close to them.
In the photo where the men walk down Alberta Avenue supporting the war effort, the two ladies rolling up the awning in front of Smith Bakery are Selina Smith, Francis Smith’s wife, and Ruth Smith, his daughter. His daughter Ethel Smith and niece Edna Ore were also working in the bake shop. Information provided by Francis Smith’s granddaughters Barbara and Frances.
This 1942 photo of army recruits walking down 118 Avenue is a good representation of popular culture in Edmonton during the Second World War.
The Pearl Harbour attack had occurred on Dec. 7, 1941. Lesser known is the heavy loss of Canadian troops during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong beginning Dec. 8, 1941. The brief but disastrous Dieppe raid on Aug. 19, 1942, was devastating. Of the 4,963 Canadians who left England for the operation, only 2,210 returned, with several wounded.
On May 7, Wesley Andreas hosted a Jane’s Walk through Spruce Avenue. He discussed the neighbourhood’s general history and the strong Polish presence.
Southwest of Alberta Avenue are several Polish businesses and community hubs. Polish settlers have been in Alberta for over a century, but plenty of immigration occurred after the Second World War. The Polish suffered much hardship during the Nazi occupation. Poland developed a strong resistance movement and brought that spirit here.
I love reading the Rat Creek Press. In general, I find the paper to be inclusive and community-minded.
I want to bring to your attention an omission in the March 2016 edition. The article “Celebrating Women” includes a timeline on women’s right to vote. I was dismayed to see that this timeline does not inform readers that Aboriginal women did not have the right to vote until 1960.
I also noticed that the overwhelming majority of the trailblazers are white women.
I was disappointed by the racial bias in this piece. International Women’s Day is for all women and this article did not communicate that.