THE TOWN THAT NEVER FOR­GETS Brad­ford proud to hon­our Canada’s vet­er­ans

24 Hours Toronto - - NEWS - JOE WARMINGTON

BRAD­FORD WEST GWILLIMBURY — In this pretty lit­tle town north of Toronto peo­ple not only wear pop­pies proudly but here they also say “thank you.”

Thank you 100 times to be pre­cise.

“For the past five years we wanted to make sure there is a ‘Thank You’ sign in as many win­dows on our main street as pos­si­ble,” said Francine Grenon. “By mak­ing 100 posters, we wanted the vet­er­ans to know we ap­pre­ci­ate them.”

Vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies would cer­tainly know this if they come to Brad­ford.

You can’t miss the pa­tri­o­tism and re­spect for the troops and vets here. It’s on full dis­play. Grenon hand­paints her ‘Thank You’ signs with pop­pies and then dis­trib­utes them around town for the lo­cal busi­nesses to put up in their win­dows. That com­bined with a fan­tas­tic ban­ner pro­gram in­tro­duced this year by the lo­cal Royal Cana­dian Le­gion, Branch 521 demon­strate there’s no ap­a­thy to­ward Re­mem­brance Day here.

Lest We For­get is not a con­cern. They never for­get. And not just the day but also the lo­cal men and women who served in Canada’s wars.

“They were brave and they an­swered the call of duty,” said Wayne Brake­boar, the man­ager of the lo­cal RBC Branch who not only spon­sored the ban­ner hon­our­ing a lo­cal woman who served in the Se­cond World War but also has a ta­ble dis­play in the lobby of the bank high­light­ing her ser­vice record and medals.

Her name was Bertha El­iz­a­beth (Jef­fries) Yake, who served over­seas be­tween 1939 and 1945 be­fore com­ing home to raise a fam­ily.

She died five years ago but her mem­ory lives on here with a ban­ner fea­tur­ing her pic­ture on a light stan­dard down­town.

“We are very proud to be a part of this,” said Brake­boar. He is also “very proud” of Francine who is not just his bank’s cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive but the town’s Re­mem­brance Day ambassador too.

Turns out her un­cle Leon Paul Le­gres­ley has a ban­ner on the main street too.

He was wounded in the Ital­ian cam­paign but did man­age to come home — un­like many of his pals who didn’t make it.

“He was my mom’s brother,” said Francine. “He and his brother Philippe both were part of the Royal 22nd Reg­i­ment Van Doos.”

It’s im­por­tant this week to write about peo­ple like Francine, as well as all the fine peo­ple who vol­un­teer in­side the le­gions, who are not de­terred by those who seem to want to for­get our war his­tory and the men and women who de­fended our free­doms.

On the same day I went to this great town with pho­tog­ra­pher Mike Peake, Post­media Net­work re­porter Jenny Yuen sent us the re­sults of a shock­ing poll that came out on this very sub­ject.

In a “new study by An­ces­try, con­ducted by Leger’s on­line panel of more than 1,500 Cana­di­ans over the age of 18, re­veals that more than 3.7 mil­lion Cana­di­ans will not com­mem­o­rate Re­mem­brance Day.”

Maybe this ex­plains why it seems we are see­ing fewer pop­pies this year. But this is not a prob­lem in Brad­ford.

Francine tells me only one busi­ness wouldn’t take a ‘thank you’ sign,.

The en­thu­si­asm does not sur­prise the town’s mayor.

“The com­mu­nity of Brad­ford West Gwillimbury has a long his­tory of ded­i­ca­tion to re­mem­ber­ing our vet­er­ans and hon­our­ing our ac­tive ser­vice per­son­nel,” said Mayor Rob Kef­fer. “This year, in cel­e­bra­tion of Canada’s 150th, our lo­cal Le­gion branch ini­ti­ated a pro­gram to put faces to the names of our vet­er­ans by of­fer­ing fam­i­lies the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase ban­ners in hon­our of their loved ones who have served. This is a fan­tas­tic pro­gram, and it brings home the hu­man face of war in a very pow­er­ful way.”

Thank you Mr. Mayor. Thank you busi­ness peo­ple and res­i­dents of Brad­ford West Gwillimbury and thank you Francine Grenon. And thank you vet­er­ans.

Thank you.

MICHAEL PEAKE/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK FILES

Francine Grenon shows one of the over 100 hand-painted signs she makes and dis­trib­utes to the shops and busi­nesses along the main street of Brad­ford.

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