News

Naming project bringing Port Moody veterans home

Guy Black (left) and Michael Coyle with te list of Port Moody servicemen who fought in WW I. The two are working on a project to get mountains and lakes named for vets who died in Commonwealth wars. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Guy Black (left) and Michael Coyle with te list of Port Moody servicemen who fought in WW I. The two are working on a project to get mountains and lakes named for vets who died in Commonwealth wars.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Port Moody's Guy Black is teaming up with Coquitlam Search and Rescue to have lakes, mountains or other geographical features named after local veterans who in died in the two world wars.

The initiative comes as the world acknowledges significant anniversaries for both wars — 75 years since the outbreak of the First World War and 100 years since the Second World War began.

Black has already assisted three families in having lakes and a ridge in nearby provincial parks named for deceased Coquitlam and Port Moody veterans (see sidebar) and is seeking contact with other veterans' families who may be interested in his help.

"I'm doing it as a favour because I like to do it," said Black, who has campaigned a number of times for recognition for vets, most recently those who served in the Korean War. "It's about remembrance and a lasting monument."

He wants to assist families with archival research and then help them file their applications with GeoBC, which manages natural resource information in the province.

"My offer is for everyone in the Tri-Cities, for anyone who was a Tri-City resident who joined up and was killed."

NAMING SUGGESTIONS

Michael Coyle, spokesperson for Coquitlam Search and Rescue, said his organization will assist by finding unnamed geographical features in remote areas, such as Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, that could be named after local veterans. He'll work with groups such as the Burke Mountain Naturalists to augment his own local knowledge.

"Most of the things we can see have names but just beyond those there are dozens that have no names," Coyle said.

For example, Peak 6800 is named after its elevation but could be renamed to honour a local veteran.

The avid hiker who managed Sunday's rescue of two local teens from Eagle Mountain said the idea of honouring local vets who died in the world wars by naming mountains and lakes after them is fitting.

"It's another way to honour our traditions," he said.

He believes Geo BC would also be supportive of naming applications for local deceased veterans.

"I do know from hiking a lot they have a soft spot for servicemen, for sure," Coyle said, although he noted that care would be taken to avoid renaming a locally known or accepted feature, particularly any that had a name used historically by First Nations people.

COMFORT FOR FAMILIES

When a serviceman died overseas in the course of duty he was lost forever to his family but a local place naming can bring some comfort.

Barry Van Leeuwen, whose uncle, Benny Winter, went missing during a reconnaissance flight off the coast of Ceylon in 1943, said the naming of Winter Lake in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park brought his mom some solace.

Elsie Van Leeuwen was distraught when her brother joined the air force and was devastated when he never made it back to his Coquitlam home. Winter Lake was officially named by Geo BC in 2010, two years before Elsie Van Leeuwen died, and Black's assistance was invaluable, Barry Van Leeuwen said.

"I think it was suitable having a lake named after him. Winter Lake does feed into Coquitlam Lake, which is part of our reservoir. I'd tell mom: 'Every time you have a glass of water, a drop of that water came from Winter Lake, and when you have a glass of water, you can remember him.'"

THE DETAILS

Veterans' advocate Guy Black, a Port Moody resident, would like to assist Tri-City families that have family members who died in Commonwealth wars, including WWI and WWII, to have their loved ones commemorated with a geographical place naming.

In addition, he is looking to speak with family members to assist in the geographical place naming for the following deceased Port Moody veterans:

• Arthur Burnett, who died in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in WWI;

• Robert Ferris, who fought with the Canadian Scottish from Victoria in WWII and died in France on Aug. 16, 1944;

• and Douglas Wortley, who died in a plane crash near Yale on Sept. 21, 1941.

Black can be reached by sending an email to korea19501953@yahoo.com with the subject "Place Naming."

Here are some existing places named for Tri-City veterans.

Benny Winter

Winter Lake

Located in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park

Adopted Nov. 11, 2010

Warrant Officer Benjamin Winter, who was born in Finland but grew up in Coquitlam, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator bomber aimer and went missing on a reconnaissance flight off the coast of South East Asia in 1943; he is presumed to have died.

Hanson Lake

Located near the head of Gold Creek in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Adopted Nov. 11, 2004

Flying Officer Edward Hanson, a Port Moody resident who taught Sunday School at St. Andrew's United Church in Ioco and worked at the Ioco refinery, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII. He died Feb. 8, 1944 when his plane was shot down over the North Sea. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, United Kingdom and on a plaque at Ioco United Church.

McCrea Lake

Located northwest of Mount Robie Reid in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Adopted Nov. 11, 2006

Pilot Officer Leslie McCrea was born in Ladner but attended Ioco Public School in Port Moody. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He died on June. 3, 1944 while on night operations over France. He is buried in St. Desir War Cemetery, Calvados, France.

Kreut Ridge

Located west side of Hector Ferguson and McCrea Lakes in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Adopted Nov. 11, 2007

Flight Sgt. Arthur Kreut attended Ioco Public School and worked at Imperial Oil as a clerk. He died Feb. 25, 1942 while night flying training and is buried in Saffron Walden Cemetery, Essex, United Kingdom.

 

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