Canada was established as a nation on July 1, 1867.
Before the end of the century, the fledgling Nation would support the Commonwealth it was part of by raising arms and sending troops to Africa to fight in the Boer War, which ran from 1899 through 1902.
The troops fighting overseas came from all walks of life, be they doctors, ranchers, butchers or any of many other varieties of vocations. However, what they had in common is establishing Canada’s well-known reputation and position as a fighter and peace-keeper on the world stage.
Several of those who served in the Boer War even found their way back to east-central Alberta after war, in some cases before the municipalities, like Castor, even came into being.
Just over a decade later, Canadians again answered the call to battle. This time, they were fighting in Europe alongside the Commonwealth after conflict was sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Serbian separatists.
In what can only be described as a web of entangling-alliances, Austria declared war on Serbia, causing Russia to mobilize in defence of their Serbian allies. Germany, while initially attempting to remain neutral, eventually mobilized its military, joining its Austrian allies. France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom also then mobilized for war, with Canada joining the British in Europe in a long and bloody conflict.
Canadian soldiers left their mark in the first World War, which ran from 1914 until 1918, particularly in action in places such as Vimy Ridge.
Castor, which had by this time formed into a town, lists its fair share of soldiers who fought in the conflict in its Legions book of Remembrance. Around 230 from around the Castor area fought in the First World War, and not everyone made it home.
After a period of relative peace, Canadians were again called to war in Europe, this time against Hitler and the Nazi threat. Germany had invaded neighbouring Poland, to which Britain, and the Commonwealth, responded.
Again Canadians from all over took up arms and made the trip to Europe to fight against tyranny. In the fight against Germany, Canadians fought with valour in places like the failed Dieppe raid, the D-day landings and in Africa. Castor’s book of Remembrance lists over 400 who fought in World War 2.
Following World War 2’s ending in 1945, the relative peace of the world did not last long. The Korean peninsula had been split into two at the end of World War 2, with the Soviet Union supporting the north and the West supporting the south. When the north invaded the south, Canadians were among the first to join the Americans via the newly formed United Nations in a ‘police-action,’ standing up for those who couldn’t help themselves.
Castor was not spared contribution in this conflict either, with six people from the region listed as serving.
Since Korea, Canada has served front-and-centre as United Nations peacekeepers, taking part in military action in Bosnia, Cypress and Afghanistan. All the while rural Canada has continued to contribute. Castor currently has veterans of Cypress, Afghanistan, and other conflicts living within its borders.
Canada has a long history of helping its allies on the world stage. It is this history that all Canadians need to remember on Remembrance Day, for without those who have fought for the freedoms we have today, the Canada we know would be very different.