C.W. Canfield turned 93 in October and he is a bundle of energy. Upon meeting him, he instantly takes you back in time. “It was early to mid 1950 during the Cold War if someone touched the wrong button we wouldn’t be here today.” His military roots run deep. His father, grandfather and his brother all served. It’s those roots that sent him to No Stone Left Alone (NSLA). Last year, he saw an ad in the newspaper honouring veterans. “I saw all the pictures of the military people and thought this is very interesting. This is going places. And I came down.”
The meeting with NSLA came at time of grief for the family. The veteran’s wife and his son in law had passed leaving a huge hole in his life. Val Gillis says her father has renewed purpose. “To say NSLA appeared on Dad’s horizon as a gift at a pivotal time in our his and our family’s life is truly a gift money could never buy for him.”
C.W. has a few other gifts, namely his daughter and his grandson, 24 year old, Warren Gillis. Warren sees his grandfather almost every day. He helps with his groceries, plays games and they share stories. Warren is proud of his military past and his involvement with No Stone Left Alone.
“It’s about not taking the past for granted and realizing the sacrifices that have been made by generations. And kind of making sure history doesn’t repeat itself.”
Val Glllis is a retired school teacher and she thinks the experience of NSLA with students is invaluable.
“It’s history. History cannot stay inside a book we have to open the book. As the elders we have to open the book or the video, so that the young can appreciate who came before them and what they did so that you can enjoy all the liberties we share today.”
On November 6th students will pause and lay a poppy on the headstones of fallen soldiers in Fields of Honour across Canada. In 2016, 7,046 students in 111 cemeteries honoured 44,679 soldiers. It’s a tribute that began as a promise by Maureen Bianchini-Purvis to her mother to never forget her parents and their military service.
C.W. believes it’s critical to pass on the legacy from the past. He hopes it means his brother, Glen Ross, a military pilot, who is buried in Lisbon, will be remembered along with countless others who never returned home.
“I want to make sure he is remembered and not forgotten. Those who didn’t come back, or those who came back disabled losing their minds; they need to be remembered too.”