Rowe, John

John Rowe was born in 1925 in Toronto, and he grew up in the city’s east end, in the Beach. John shared with us his memories of interwar Toronto, and what it was like growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression. He remembered it as a time when everyone was the same, not

Short, Norm

Norm Short served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War.  Born in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, the young Norm moved to Quebec along with his family when they settled in Shawinigan Falls.  When the war came, Norm joined up in Montreal, as part of the Essex Scottish Regiment.  he completed his basic training and waited

Kaneko, Eishi

Kaneko Eishi served in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War Two.  From a working family near Kyoto, he grew up learning the traditions of interwar Japan, and he was imbued with the Shinto faith and an ardent athlete.  When the war came, he was identified as a strong math student, so the army prepared

Prideaux, Mel

Mel Prideaux was born in Regina, Saskatchewan.   He grew up during the Great Depression, and had to face many challenges that an average family had to face.  He enlisted in the army with a couple friends before they were to go to university , but Mel was encouraged to become a training officer instead of

Zarembo, Michael

Michael Zarembo is a Lithuanian Jew, one of so many overwhelmed with the terrible events that befell his people and region during the war.  1941 saw the initiation of that horror…Germany initiated Operation Barbarossa, and within days Michael’s family was under the heel of the Nazi regime.  Life became increasingly difficult in the ghettos that were

Katz, Eugene

Eugene Katz was born in Dyszna, Poland in in 1927.  He was one of five children, growing up in a Jewish family not too far from Vilna; he recalls a difficult life, beset by hunger and poverty, but also filled with family and friends.  When war came in 1939, Eugene’s family was in eastern Poland,

Pham Cong Lien

Pham Cong Lien lives outside Hanoi, Vietnam, in a state-sponsored home for the veterans of what the Vietnamese call the “American War”.  Mr. Pham turned eighteen and was conscripted by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in 1967-68, just as the American involvement was reaching its apex.  Forced to leave school and his family behind, he

Boyd, John

John Boyd was born in Alberta in 1915.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times.  The harsh conditions did push his politics to the left, and John was attracted to the leftist ideals of the time.  After graduating

Jarvis, Mary

Mary Jarvis grew up in Ontario in the prewar era, in the Markham area just north of Toronto.  She grew up in a conservative, church-going family, in what was then a largely rural community, and Mary recalls chafing just a bit against those restrictions; like her friends, she would have loved to enjoy the movies and

Allen, Ken

Ken Allen is a Toronto resident in his 101st year, interviewed in April 2017 by Masters at the McCowan Retirement Residence.  Ken had many stories to share about his long life in and around Toronto.  Ken was born in the then village of Todmorden, in today’s Broadview-Danforth neighbourhood.  He remembers a very different Toronto, one

Lewis, Jack

Jack Lewis was born in Montreal in 1925, the youngest in a family where both parents were war veterans.  His father was a doctor, and his mother was a nurse, and they’d met in the battlefield hospital near Boulogne.  They spent much of the Great War in that one location, and Jack remembers that in

Tymchuk, Bill

Bill Tymchuk was born in Ukraine, when it was under Polish control; he went to school there  for 2 years and immigrated to Canada in 1930 (his father had settled down in Canada in 1928). His family was on the farm, and he started school and learned English quickly. Later his family went to Stayner, Ontario and

Blium, Reuven

Reuven Blium survived the Holocaust in Lithuania, a country where as many as 95% of Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.  Reuven was born in 1930 in Kaunas, into a family of limited means.  Reuven’s father passed away when Reuven was only 3, and his mother had no alternative but to put

Smith, Mike

Mike Smith was born in the USSR, in the former republic of Belarus.  He grew up near Pinsk, in a traditional Jewish family.  When the war came to the USSR in 1941, he joined the Soviet Red Army, where he became a member of the Scouts’ Brigade.  Doing some of the most dangerous work behind

Gondek, Zbigniew

Zbigniew Gondek served in the Polish Army during World War Two.  Born in Szemysyl in 1923, he and his family found themselves in the Soviet Zone of occupation after the 1939 Nazi Soviet Pact.  Zbigniew’s father, a police officer, was murdered, and Zbigniew and his mother were transported to Siberia, where they ended up in a

Mahon, Albert

Albert Mahon was born into a large family in south London, England in 1923. He grew up in a working class neighbourhood, where school was not a top priority.  Instead Albert went to work, and much of his childhood and early years were spent working a variety of jobs, as well as helping with his

Fish, Lawrence

Lawrence Fish was born in Crowle, England in 1923. He was the eldest of four siblings. In school he went to seventh grade and then started to work in farming and driving trucks. Most of his childhood was spent working as well as helping with his siblings. In 1941, once he was old enough to enlist,

Harvey, Frederic

Major Harvey has over 20 years of experience in the Canadian Armed Forces, having joined the reserves in 1992. While serving in the reserves and completing his university education, Major Harvey was deployed as a part of Canada’s peacekeeping missions in Haiti (1996) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1999). In 2000, Maj. Harvey transferred to regular forces as

Barker, Robert

Major Barker joined the Canadian Forces in 2000, and graduated from the Royal Military College in 2005. In 2008, he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he worked to help rebuild the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police force. During his time in Afghanistan, he received an official mention in dispatches for his exemplary work.

Good, Mendel

Mendel Good was born in March,1925 in Nowy-Sacz, Poland, which was a very religious and mostly Jewish city. He had a happy family and it was big and close. Mendel had two brothers and a little sister. After the Nazi invasion, Mendel stayed in camps from the age 14 to the age of 21. He

Windwar, Hana

Hana Windwar was born in 1933 in Warsaw, Poland. She was six years old when the war began and she was the only child of her parents. She went to Russia with her parents. Her dad was taken to Russia, and forced into the army during the war.  Her mom needed to work and Hana was put in a orphanage. Hana

Brooker, Odie

Odie Brooker was born in 1929 in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood. In the midst of the Depression, Odie was placed in the care of the Children’s Aid Society. He spent the next nine years in foster homes in the Caledon region. At age 15, he snuck into the Canadian Army and spent the next year training

Vis, Leonard

Leonard Vis was born in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1930. After the Germans occupied the Netherlands, his family went into hiding. They all survived and were liberated in 1945. Leonard After the war, Leonard served two years in the Dutch Army before moving to New York. In 1967, Leonard came to Canada for a job posting.

Cohen, Kelman

Kelman Cohen, born in 1925, was the son of Morris Cohen and Esther Minden of Toronto. Morris Cohen was a Russian immigrant.  Kelman grew up in the Great Depression and in his own words, ‘we all suffered’.  Kelman had a colourful childhood in downtown Toronto, and he shared many of his recollections from the neighbourhood

Sloma, Chava

Chava Sloma was born in Otwock, Poland in 1925.  Though she recalled incidents of anti-Semitism, she said her prewar life was for the most part good.  All that changed dramatically in September 1939 though; the family initially fled to Warsaw, but as the German army advanced, the decision was made to separate, and Chava and

Oral History Project

The Crestwood Oral History Project is in the midst of its busy season! The CHCs are completing their oral history interviews – all 80+ of them. In the last week, we have had 2 in class visitors, and done one in home visit. Students from Mr. Masters’ class went to visit Kelman Cohen in his

Carmelly, Felicia

Felicia Carmelly is a Romanian Holocaust survivor currently residing in Toronto. Born in 1932  amidst European anti-Semitism, Felicia faced persecution at the hands of the Green Shirts in Romania. Felicia and her family were taken from their hometown to Transnistria, an area under Romanian governance where Romanian Jews were forced into mass ghettos. Here, she

Weiss, Arthur

Arthur Weiss was born in Philadelphia in 1925.  Growing up against the backdrop of war, Arthur was singled out by the military for his mathematical prowess.  The military was grooming him for a role in the Manhattan Project, but as Arthur recalls, there was a surfeit of physicists by 1945, and with the war winding

Hilf, Magda

Magda Hilf was born in Maly Kevesd, Czechoslovakia, in 1921. Her early years consist of many fond memories, with family and friends and books, all in a rural setting.  After 1938’s Munich Accord, the situation changed:  when the Hungarians took over her region, the restrictions began.  Her father lost his business, and he and so