Thursday, November 11, 2010

The one next door

At the journalism website Open File, Patrick Cain has applied days of research in the Toronto City Archives to a map that places a poppy at the home address of every Torontonian who died in the Second World War. You can find the interactive version here, with every poppy opening up to name and details.

I found myself staggered by the sheer number of the poppies. In the older parts of the city, before postwar expansion took the city out across the farmlands, the poppies cover every neighbourhood, touch every street.

I zoomed in on my own part of town, and they were everywhere.  All the streets I walk and drive all the time, thickly strewn with poppies. I do not know when I have seen such a demonstration of how the wars came home to Canadians. This is just one city, but I can imagine something similar for the quarter-sections of rural Saskatchewan. Or anywhere, indeed.

There's a poppy on the house next door to ours. He went down with HMCS Esquimalt, torpedoed off Halifax three weeks before the war ended.  He was twenty.
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