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Old 03-22-2015, 09:29 AM
Location: Toronto
12,581 posts, read 11,141,644 times
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Really really interesting stuff guys!!
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Old 03-22-2015, 09:36 AM
Location: SW Ohio
279 posts, read 280,044 times
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Originally Posted by canadian citizen View Post

We could probably do a whole thread about the hidden WW2 life of Toronto and the outlying suburbs.

A few off the top of my head.......

Inglis switched from making appliances to small arms, at what is now the Liberty Village area. So did Massey Harris and International Harvester. Gooderham and Worts produced alcohol for various military uses, including fuel for naval torpedoes, and de-icer fluid.

At the harbour, Toronto Ship Yards ( on the property that is now to the east of the Multi Cultural TV building ) built Corvettes, Motor Torpedo Boats, and coastal patrol vessels.

On the top floor of the tip Top Tailors building( next to HMCS York ) Rogers Majestic Radio had a small secret shop that built the first primitive RAF radar sets. My Mum worked there for 2 years, and Yes she was on the Official Secrets Act list. I didn't find out about that until 1981. Every two weeks a RAF senior Officer came down from Ottawa, and "signed off " on the completed sets.

Most people who live in Ajax to day, don't know why it has that name, and why the town was built. It was one big war production facility, located right next to the train lines. HMS Ajax was a RN ship that was sunk in the south Atlantic, in a running battle with a German capital ship.

To the north , De Havilland at Downsview was building aircraft of all types, as was Victory Air Craft at Malton. In Leaside, there were a number of plants producing things like steel wire rope, varnish, and electrical wire, as well as paint at CIL.

At Casa Loma, which was closed to the public during the war, there were a number of scientific labs. One of them developed the first "anti G suit " for fighter pilots, to keep them from blacking out in high G turns. The inventor was a U of T medical Doctor, DR Franks, who was also a RCAF medical Officer. The other research had to do with the development of ASDIC, the method of finding and tracking submarines, using sound waves.

AT Oshawa, the Secret Operations Executive opened camp 103, later known as Camp X. This was as training school for agents, who were usually citizens of one of the Occupied Countries from Europe. They were trained and sent back to train and lead local resistance groups. The other operation at that location was code named HYDRA, a super powerful radio station ,that was capable of direct communication, between Canada and the UK, through a combination of radio, telephone cable and undersea cable. This allowed Churchill and FDR to talk to each other, in a secure way.

Most people to day have no idea what was going on in Toronto at that time in our history.

Jim b. In Toronto.
Jim, these are great pieces of trivia I never knew !! Thanks for sharing !!
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Old 03-22-2015, 11:16 AM
18,275 posts, read 10,377,134 times
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Originally Posted by Alleycat25912 View Post
Jim, these are great pieces of trivia I never knew !! Thanks for sharing !!
Times two Jim.

Each of those locations you've mentioned are probably a lucrative source of individual stories in their own right, as you've suggested. Sure would be interesting to read some of those first hand accounts from those who participated at the time if anyone thought to record any of them.

I can remember my father later in his life, under great pressure from both of his military member sons finally opening up with some tales of his four years overseas with the GGHG's that would curl the hair on a gorilla's back.

My father-in-law telling his tales of 67 missions flown as a W/AG tail gunner in Lanc's and Lib's over Europe and the far east. I have his log book and it makes for very brief reading indeed with only very limited details of each mission and while he was alive, him filling in the colours between the lines with spell binding details.
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Old 03-22-2015, 11:32 AM
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Here's a link for a couple of war years of history for Canadian Arsenals Ltd.

Scroll down for interesting stuff on the plant set up and provision of employee amenities present.

Welcome to Culver's Shooting Page

another link to a photo gallery just keep clicking "next" in upper right corner of first selection:


Yet another with some better photos of the buildings themselves:


Last edited by BruSan; 03-22-2015 at 11:52 AM..
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Old 03-22-2015, 12:11 PM
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Hey Jim......

Castle Stable Hides Military Secret | Toronto in Time

Look at those floors!
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Old 03-22-2015, 12:48 PM
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2,540 posts, read 3,272,361 times
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Fusion and Alleycat.

Thanks for the kind words. I guess that 50 years of reading WW2 history has not been a waste of my time.

Brusan......Remind me, was the GGHG a tank unit, or were they recce scout cars, ie the Staghound and White half track ?

For those that don't know , the recce units were the forward screen of light and fast scout armoured vehicles that spread out, in front of the main force, to act as the eyes and ears of the rear commanders. Their biggest asset was fast road speed, and radio contact with the rear artillery batteries, to being down accurate shell fire on any German concentrations that they ran into.

The general plan was "advance to contact " and report the map grid reference to the guns, and then back off few hundred yards and let the 25 pounders lay on a stonk. Depending on the situation a Forward Observer Officer, who was up with the recce unit, could bring down hundreds of rounds on a target, and if things got really bad they could call a SOS fire mission on their OWN location to break up an attack. Four thousand artillery rounds in 5 minutes, on a 200 yard square target, tends to deter even the most fanatical Hitler Youth members. Speaking of the HY, they executed over 120 captured Canadians, in the first week after D Day. Shot them in cold blood in the yard of church. The flow of German prisoners was much reduced, after that news got around.

In the first 30 days after D Day in Normandy, the Royal Canadian Artillery units fired over a MLLION rounds at the Germans. It was tough, and the infantry units were being decimated, with some units being reduced from 850 men to less than 50 men in a few days. It was a constant day and night fight, for about three months, before the enemy was eventually thrown back and into retreat. From June 1944, to the victory in May of 1945, most of the Canadian Army was in constant combat, thru France, Belgium, Holland, and finally in January, into the Rheinland battles. The guys who had been fighting in Italy, ( First Canadian Infantry Division and 5th Armoured Division) since 1943, came to Europe in the late fall of 44, and they too fought till May of 45. Holland cost us over 7,000 guys killed.

At the end of the war, it was revealed that about 43 percent of the male population of Canada, had been in uniform. Not bad for a country with only 6 million military aged men in 1939. 900 thousand men went overseas , about 43,000 didn't come back. There are Canadians buried in 63 countries around the world, in Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave yards. About 12 thousand have "no known grave ".

Canada produced enough military equipment to supply our own army, navy, and air force, AND we also supplied about 50 percent of all the small arms that the British Army used, as well as most of their motor transport. GM in Oshawa, Ford in Windsor, and Chrysler combined to produce over 900,000 military trucks and universal carriers. We built tanks in Montreal, artillery guns in London, and ships all over the east and west coasts.

We had all most 100 percent employment, and any one age 14 or older could get a good paying job. Wages were high, and employers provided many benefits to keep the workers productive. On site child care, sleeping rooms, free meals, entertainment, movies after the shift was over, and dances. Cinemas ran from 8 am to midnight for shift workers. In return, workers couldn't quit a job, unless they had another one to go to. Housing in the big cities was very hard to get, and a national program to build temp houses was established, some of those "war time houses " are still being lived in today.

Jim B.
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Old 03-22-2015, 04:23 PM
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Once again Jim; wonderful stuff to read. The GGHG's were indeed an armoured reconnaissance unit but principle used armour was the lightly (37mm) gunned but fast Continental radial engine equipped M3 Stuarts and main battle M4 Shermans. They saw a lot of action with the principle activities being Holland, Liri valley http://www.canadaatwar.ca/regiment/2...-horse-guards/

The American M3 Stuart light tank, from the M3 to M3A3


You have mentioned a wonderful facet of WWII in the feature of those "wartime" houses. All built around a couple of standard 800 sq ft or thereabouts floorplans of 1&1/2 story and clapboard siding with a steeper pitched roof. Any older small town Ontario will find some of those still in existence having seen any number of families grow up in them and also undergoing any number of upgrades over the years.

Last edited by BruSan; 03-22-2015 at 04:48 PM..
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Old 03-22-2015, 08:44 PM
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
Really really interesting stuff guys!!
I agree. I'd like to see more.

Thinking of old pubs, somebody mentioned the Conroy at Lawrence and Dufferin. I've had a few pints there, mainly because a friend used to host the karaoke back in the early 90s.

Anybody ever make it out to the Glen Eagles in Scarborough? On Sheppard East, as I recall. I went in there once--looked around, and left. I've seen some dives before, but nothing like that. It was full of people, each with a beer in front of them, and looking like they were just waiting to die.

And the Duke of York (I think; no relation to the fancy "Duke Of _____" British pub chain) on Queen Street East, near Greenwood Racetrack. When I worked in the Brewer's Warehouse at Leslie and Lakeshore, a few of the guys and I would finish our shift at midnight and get to the Duke for a couple of cold ones before last call. Everybody else was pretty liquored-up by the time we got there; we'd make bets among ourselves as to how far one of the waiters--a guy who could have been an NFL linebacker--could throw the most obnoxious drunk out the front door.

The war stories are fascinating too. I'll add one of my own: many people know that the clock tower at U of T's Hart House displays the names of all those from the University who served in WWI and WWII. What they may not know is that in the sub-basement of Hart House is a rifle range, where soldiers were trained to shoot in WWI. The range remained in service as the home of Hart House's rifle and revolver clubs until 2007, when the University shut it down.

Beyond that, if you ever get the chance, there is a little war museum located in the clock tower itself. It is open infrequently, but I once had the opportunity to see it. It is small, but full of mementos of the U of T members who went to war: diaries, medals, souvenirs from the battlefield, and the like. And beautiful stained-glass windows symbolizing the sacrifice of the fallen. Well worth a visit, if you ever get the opportunity.
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:18 AM
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Chevy; that's interesting stuff and may be worth a special 'suck-it-up-buttercup' gather of courage for a foray into Toronto.
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Old 03-23-2015, 08:38 AM
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2,540 posts, read 3,272,361 times
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Would you have any stories about the tradition of the grog issue in the RCN, in your post WW2 time period ?

I know that it was discontinued around 1970, but it is a subject that most younger Canadians here are not familiar with. In WW2, the contents of the 3 gallon rum jug was the personal responsibility of the Q/M Sgt major, in Army units and the OC could order a tot, at his discretion.

As well there was the RCN square rig walking out uniform, and it's many historical connections, such as the three white lines on the blue collar, and the inside out crease on the bells. What do you remember about that time period ? Mid to late 60's wasn't it ?

Jim B.
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