The land appears more blue than green; the lakes splashed randomly amidst the untamed forest seemingly go on forever. This is northern Manitoba.
They look like white sentinels; the ramrod straight headstones rising from the manicured lawn seemingly never end. This is England’s Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery. That a line can be drawn from one to the other, from Section G, Row C, Grave 18 of a peaceful burial ground in North Yorkshire to latitude 57° 28’ 17” North, longitude 101° 10’ 37” West in the wilds of the Canadian Shield, makes little initial sense. But what of war really does?
This is the story of Chesley Reginald Grassie, a boy who, in our mind’s eye, epitomizes how we like to romanticize our Canadian ethos: growing up in a small prairie town, playing shinny outdoors in the bitter cold, going to church every Sunday where he was assistant usher. He was proud, ambitious and caring. An only child, and hardly yet a man, Grassie would die a horrible death in the Second World War, falling to earth in the Avro Lancaster he was navigating. It had collided with a plane from his own bomber base on the crew’s second mission.
For the complete story by Paul Hunter of the Toronto (Canada) Star, click here.