Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Yorke Island and the Uncertain War Defending Canada's western coast during WWII

Yorke Island and the Uncertain War, Defending Canada's western coast during WWII 

By Catherine Marie Gilbert

9780919537934 Ptarmigan Press Campbell River 2012 

Yorke Island, at the entrance to Sunderland Channel near Sayward, has had very little coverage is the history of Canada or British Columbia. Kudos to Ms Gilbert for correcting this oversight.

Yorke Island was slowly developed slowly in the late 1930s in the frugal Mackenzie King government of the day, which was loath to spend anything on defense. With war looming in August of 1939, local militia were ordered to activate personnel for duty at York Island, whose duty was to protect the northern approaches to the vital Georgia Strait which includes Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island. Initially the island was home to army personnel but later additions were from the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy. 

One of the most famous persons assigned to the island was the famous Vancouver policeman, Bernie Smith. Smith enjoyed duty on the island, but many did not as there were a few suicides and personal anguish. But being wartime this was probably true at many military installations all over the world.

Profusely illustrated, the book makes a welcome addition to the historical record.