Hastings Park, Vancouver, 1942
The old soldier was not tall. When he signed up in the late summer of 1916, then not quite 30, a doctor had listed him as 5’4”. The intervening generation may have stolen another half inch.
But the mountie, looking up from his chair on the other side of the desk, would not have called the man short. His bearing, the way he held his shoulders and head, his field-dress tunic — antique but immaculate — gave the veteran an imposing presence.
Still there was something odd about how the man was turned out, the mountie thought, something missing. He took in the three-bar chevron on the soldier’s sleeve before speaking.
“What can I do for you, Sarge?”
The mountie knew, of course, why the man was here, why those lined up behind him were here. The old soldier was signing up again, though this time not of his own volition — and not to fight. He stood in the line
outside the livestock building on Vancouver’s fair grounds because the country for whose acceptance he had fought on the fields of France and in the halls of the B.C. legislature, had turned its back on him — and on 27,000 of his fellow Canadians.