Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Remembering dad on Remembrance Day


Ian Fergusson’s army photo. Photos courtesy of Bryden Fergusson
Ian Fergusson’s army photo. Photos courtesy of Bryden Fergusson

Remembrance Day often brought mixed feelings in our family. My father had all the trappings of a successful World War II veteran – Normandy veteran who landed on Juno Beach, medals, veteran’s pension, war memorabilia – along with the respect and gratitude from family, friends and the community. We were able to buy our home with the help of a mortgage from the Veterans Land Administration, a federal board created in the 1940s to assist veterans in buying homes.

Growing up, I was the envy of my friends – wow, a dad who fought in the war – displaying and playing with war memorabilia such as bullets and shell casings. When older, I travelled to Europe, visiting Normandy, war museums, cemeteries and areas where he would have fought and eventually be wounded.

My dad would often watch Remembrance Day ceremonies on TV, but he rarely attended ceremonies in person. My mom had to persuade him after many years to get his medals that were stored in Ottawa and apply for his veteran’s pension resulting from his war wounds.

He rarely, if ever, talked about his war experiences. At most, he would describe the funny experiences, like always getting lost even though he was part of a reconnaissance unit whose job was to locate the enemy and report back their location. He only joined the Legion in his later years, even though he enjoyed a good pub.

What people did not see was what we saw at home. Physical signs such as large burn scars, deafness in one ear, an eye that wept, shrapnel embedded and never removed. Emotional scars were less visible: nightmares, excessive drinking and fear of large crowds and loud noises.

Remembrance Day means different things to different people. I often attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and have brought my children so they can better understand the sacrifice that veterans like my father experienced.

My father was part of a large silent group that found the memories too painful to attend ceremonies or participate in the benefits and gratitude of being a veteran.

D-Day letter sent to troops before their departure for Normandy in 1944.
D-Day letter sent to troops before their departure for Normandy in 1944.

Bryden Fergusson is a longtime resident of Renfrew-Collingwood.

Copyright 2022 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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November 2022 issue of RCC News is here

Check out the great events and activities happening in our neighbourhood in this latest issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News and stay connected to your neighbours and community.

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News November 2022

View the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Legion Branch 179 update
  • Remembering dad on Remembrance Day
  • Seniors’ Morning at the Movies: Classic films based on books
  • A-SLAM releases new music video
  • Fall Environmental Stewardship series from Still Moon
  • Read On! Join English discussion groups in RC

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email

The deadline for the December 2022 issue is November10.

We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.