War Pensioners plan to shutter organization

The War Pensioners of Canada (WPC) Espanola-Manitoulin branch held its annual year end awards and luncheon last week. In photo standing left to right, is Ray Constantineau, Paul Abbott, Wayne Golden, Herne Steelegrave, Fred Nesbitt, Richard Lynch, Norm Matheson and Colin Pick, front row is Brian Sprack and Red Butler.

MANITOULIN—The War Pensioners of Canada (WPC) Espanola-Manitoulin branch has outlined its plans for the next four years, to 2022 when it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of WPC, and the group surrenders its colours to the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa.

“Dear comrade brothers and sisters, the many (WPC) activities over the past year have once again demonstrated our ability to just soldier on, regardless of age catching up to us, with our numbers declining as a result,” stated Colin Pick of the WPC at the group’s year-end awards luncheon last week. “I  would like to thank all of you for your contributions; without you guys we wouldn’t exist. I am all hopeful we can all get the next four years in to conclude the WPC.”

“This brings us up to our four-year plan,” said Mr. Pick. “The only First Nation school on Manitoulin Island that has yet to raise a Warriors Peace Pole is Sheshegwaning. In the spring of 2018, it is my intention to pay a visit to the school and the band council to make arrangements for the raising of a peace pole.”

“A letter has already been sent to the director general of the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa asking for an area to display our artifacts within the next year or so, and eventually for the safe keeping of our colours by the CWM in 2022,” said Mr. Pick, adding that the group is currently awaiting a positive reply.

During 2018 and beyond, the WPC will be collecting all of their historic artifacts and memorabilia ready for transporting to the CWM in Ottawa as soon as a display area is made ready, prior to 2022. A letter has also been sent to an official of the WPC so arrangements can be made to pick up the WPC artifacts, their charter document and the local WPC colours.

“In discussions with President Ray (Constantineau), it is our intention to contact retired Colonel Pat Strogan and ask him if upon our arrival at the war museum in Ottawa we have a final march past he take the salute,” said Mr. Pick. Prior to the march past, “we will present Col. Strogran with his medals as an ambassador of the WPC and for all his work in helping all veterans. We haven’t had the opportunity to present these medals up to now, he will be given the last two medals in the existence of the WPC.”

Mr. Pick continued, “after the march past and salute outside the (CWM) we will then proceed inside to the already established WPC display area, where it is my intention that if we secure a wall display area, I will donate a four by four oil painting of a poppy on along with one of our Lest We Forget plaques to commemorate our 100 years of service and the surrendering of our colours for safekeeping and display, on behalf of the WPC.”

“Leading up to the proposed surrendering of our colours to the CWM in 2022 there are other activities and local ceremonies that need to be arranged as follows,” said Mr. Pick. He noted all memorial books of deceased members need to be updated and, at a Charter anniversary in Sudbury, plans call for a drum head service and the blessing of the WPC colours by Padre Kevin Service with local veterans town council and other guests invited will take place while a similar service would be held in Espanola, with Padre Red Butler addressing the colours.

“Much of the above is tentative on us making these arrangements,” said Mr. Pick, who encouraged everyone to come forward with any other ideas that would enhance the WPC 100 years of service grand finale.

“We have to get hold of the people in the government, federal and municipal and maybe they have ideas pass onto to us,” said Mr. Constantineau. “We need government to get behind us to make sure all of this goes through.”

Mr. Pick noted, “as one can appreciate, besides our normal annual activities, much has to be done within the next four years to see our intentions materialize into a graceful and respectful conclusion to the WPC association of veterans.” He said the WPC would like to strike a joint committee between local Royal Canadian Legions in order to share designated tasks for the celebrations.

“I would like to thank you all for your dedication and service to the WPC over the years and a special thanks to our wives, widows and ladies,” said Mr. Pick.

Several awards were then presented. “Between now and 2022 we would like to see that everyone is awarded with a 100th anniversary (WPC) medal and other medals for service and contributions to our organization to 2022,” said Mr. Pick. “We want to make sure no one who is deserving is missed.”

WPC five year service medals were presented to Wayne Golden, Herne Steelegrave, Paul Abbott and Fred Nesbitt. 100 year WPC anniversary medals were also presented to Red Butler and Brian Sprack for all their efforts and contributions to WPC over the years.