An important Canadian tradition involves the wearing of a Remembrance Day poppy every November. This simple act unites all of us as remember the sacrifice brave men and women in the armed services make so we can continue to enjoy our Canadian way of life.
Tim Stewart, Archivist for the Toronto Scottish Regiment, tells a wonderful Remembrance Day story about a family, a regiment, a baseball game and a very special souvenir.
In April, 2010, Gerald Baker from Canterbury, Kent, England wrote to the Toronto Scottish Regiment; Tim received the letter in June and responded immediately. Gerald wanted to make a donation to the Regiment Museum and this is his letter…
“During 1944, Canadian soldiers of The Toronto Scottish Regiment were billeted upon various families in Canterbury for several weeks at a time and became temporarily part of their families.”
“Mine was one of these families who were privileged to have the honour of befriending some of those very brave Canadians, many of whom had left sweethearts, wives and children back in Canada so that we, in England, might retain our freedom. They will never be forgotten during our lifetime and will always be honoured in our hearts.
Although it is noted from your website that your museum mainly exhibits armoury items, I would like to offer something quite different. During one billeting we welcomed our last two soldiers, Norman Clute and Mac McBride. During their stay, they spent their days at the Canterbury Motor Company, presumably on vehicle maintenance or the like.
But, one evening apparently, a baseball match was arranged at the Kent County Cricket Club in Canterbury, which obviously offered the ideal venue. Following that match, they handed to me, a twelve year old boy at the time, a fully autographed baseball, which presumably had been used in the encounter. I have cherished and kept this baseball to this day, in the same condition in which it was given.
Since this so well illustrates the other side of war and timeless friendships that grew up around it, and since I am now 78 years old with a terminal illness, I would so much like to think it could find a home where that aspect of “war” could take its place alongside the armaments, and tell its own story to other Canadians in the years to come.
If you would do me the honour of accepting the baseball for your museum, I will send it to you with the thanks it most dearly deserves.”
Tim’s letter to Mr. Baker arrived in England in June and Mr. Baker’s long time partner, Ms. Reeves, responded with a letter of further explanation and the baseball.
Sadly, Mr. Baker had passed away in May without knowing he had made contact with the Regiment. Nor did he know his treasured baseball and this wonderful story would hold a place of honour in the Toronto Scottish Regiment Museum.