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A Proud Personal Achievement for the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum - 1999-2014

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Nov 11, 2015 marks the first anniversary since our long campaign "To End a Century of Neglect" with various government ministries, to get them to officially recognize Canada's participation in the Anglo-Boer War and some 6,000 volunteer recruits who served, got the Minister of Canadian Heritage to recognize "Canada and the South African War as an event of national historic significance" and resulted in the first official Canadian government signage, in recognition of Canada's first ever participation in an overseas war, to be put up in South Africa, and on Canada's National War Memorial.
Canada's National War Memorial, Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, 2014 - South African War Dates First Unveiled - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thanks to a publicity campaign I started in 1999, through a Boer War TV documentary, research in South Africa, a huge internet Boer War Museum, and plea, with a personal proposal to various Canadian government ministers, "TO END A CENTURY OF NEGLECT," the South-African War was finally officially recognized by the Canadian government, in 2005, as "an event of national historic significance" and proper government signage started to be put up in Canada and South Africa.

For the very first time - OK so it is 115 years late - Canadians could see the dates for the South African War displayed on the central arch, to commemorate a historic event and a past generation of veterans who had been ignored for over 100 years.

It's gratifying proof that passionate private people, can make a difference in the public life of Canada.

The dates are on the east side of the central arch, exactly opposite to new dates for the Afghan War, also unveiled for the first time.

 

When Canada's National War Memorial was first unveiled, by King George VI and the Queen Mum, in 1939, it was only dedicated to the dead of the Great War, 1914-1918,

Dates for the Boer War, 1899-1902, to which Canada had sent 6,000 soldiers, of which some 300 had died, were ignored. Even though it was the first time Canada had ever sent soldiers to fight in an overseas war.

When dates for World War II, and the Korean War were added in 1982, there were still no dates for the South African War, and no interest in having them ever added.

That started to change after I began to ramp up my Four Phase publicity campaign, in 1999.

They would be added to the base of this side of the central arch fifteen years after I had begin my Boer War publicity campaign "To End a Century of Neglect."

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A huge and fabulous original chromolithograph from 1911, shows the site, before the Post office on the far left of the bridge, was torn down to create a space for it during the 1930s.

There is a Titanic connection to the Chateau Laurier and this very print.

Go to Richard Rummell

 

Chateau Laurier, Grand Trunk System, 1911 - Richard Rummell
Orig. chromolithograph - Size Overall 44" x 57"
Found - Milton, ON
Collection of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum
A Proud Personal Achievement for the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum

I am pleased to announce that:

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
Capt. James Cooper Mason DSO - 1875 - 1923
Orig. photo, camera, sword
Found - Cambridge, ON
Collection of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum
Part of the research I did uncovered the fact that a Canadian volunteer, and banker, Capt. James Cooper Mason of Toronto, Ontario, took the very first ever "genuine combat" photo in world history, with this camera on Feb. 18,1900. So it was not Robert Capa, decades later with his faked "Dying Loyalist" photo, or anyone else before. All so-called "combat" photos before, were ALL faked, and would be for decades to come. Hell, it was deadly dangerous, and James who stuck his head up just long enough for one photo, for several seconds, was immediately hit by bullets..

So a civilian amateur "camera fiend," a part-time, not a regular soldier, and not a professional photographer, exposed himself in the firing line, to take the world's first fully documented and certifiable action photo, ever, up where the bullets were flying and the dying was being done.

This photo, his camera, the sword he wore on that occasion (and above), and the letter and diaries in which he wrote of the exploit and having his badge shot off his helmet, are part of the Museum's historic memorabilia collection of some 4,500 items which I have curated and preserved for posterity.

Go to James & the World's First Combat Photo

- thanks to my passionate interest in the proper documenting of history, and

- specifically due to my lobbying to get the Canadian Government to recognize the Canadian participation in the Anglo-Boer (South African) War from 1899-1902,

the South African War has finally – OK, so it is 115 years late – been recognized and noted with its prominent dates rightly being affixed on to Canada’s National War Memorial, near Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario.

For the very first time, on Nov. 11, 2014.

And for the first time, official Canadian government signage is also being properly set up in South Africa, the first such signage that the Canadian government (Parks Canada, or the Historic Sites & Monuments Board of Canada) has ever set up on the African continent.

Without my passionate and enthusiastic initiative, and multi-phase campaign, it would never have happened.

John Goldi csc, Historian & Curator,
Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum

Phase: 1 – Research in South Africa for a Documentary on Canada in the Boer War

In 2000, as part of the research for my feature documentary “The Great Anglo-Boer War: the Canadian Experience,” commissioned by History Television, my wife and I travelled to South Africa where I, a lifelong credentialed professional historian, carried out the most in-depth investigation ever undertaken by anyone of Canadian Anglo-Boer War sites in South Africa.

My investigation, over an eight week period, during which we travelled some 11,000 kms, following the trail of the Canadian Contingents of a century ago, revealed that there was no Canadian government historical signage anywhere, on sites where Canadians had campaigned, camped, fought, and died, or houses where they had stayed. Only gravestones put up long ago, marked their passing…

I considered this a gross and unconscionable oversight of what I considered a significant Canadian historical event – the very first time that the Canadian government had ever sent combat units to fight in an overseas war. Some 6,000 volunteers had gone; some 300 never came back.

Who would ever have known? There was no signage to commemorate the patriotic service of that generation of Canadian veterans anywhere.


I also made three important Canadian historical discoveries that were unknown to Canadian Boer War scholars, government historians, museum curators, military officials, or Ottawa bureaucrats, and were not mentioned in the most recent books, the academic literature, or Parks Canada pamphlets or research documents.

These brand new historic Canadian discoveries included:

“WOW #1” - the Canadian RCR (Royal Canadian Regiment) Guard Room at Belmont – in a stone building (the former railway station) which served as the official Canadian regimental headquarters, around which the thousand members of the RCRs (Canada’s first of six Boer War contingents) had camped for months from 1899-1900.

“WOW #2” - the Canadian RCR hospital – a frame building at Belmont

“WOW #3” - numerous fabulous Canadian rock inscriptions on the hills above Belmont

There was no signage of any kind on any of them.

I had discovered the Canadian connection to two unmarked buildings, entirely from old photographs from a slew of 100 year old books I had carted along to South Africa.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Bugler, 1900 - James Wickson
Orig. chromolithograph - Image Size - 16 x 20"
Found - Paris, ON
Collection of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum
The Museum has numerous original paintings and memorabilia of Canadian artist James Wickson who painted the iconic Boer War image, including his fabulous trunk that the family brought to Canada in 1834.

The fabulous Canadian rock inscriptions too were not plaqued by anyone. I found them by hiking the hills around Belmont, where I knew a thousand Canadians had live and hiked for months in 1899-1900.

And no photos of any of these Canadian sites existed, before I published them in the TV documentary, and on my museum website.

Go to Fabulous Discoeries in South Africa

Phase: 2 – A Four-hour Feature Documentary Series on Canada in the Anglo-Boer War

“The Great Anglo-Boer War: the Canadian Experience,” a four-hour feature documentary, was completed by Joan Goldi and John Goldi csc, in 2003, and aired multiple times on History Television.

The documentary and its accompanying virtual museum - the world's first internet virtual museum - were honored by being selected as a rare Canadian Millenium Project.

Wrote George Milne, of Calgary’s Museum of the Regiments, “I am personally convinced that it will be assessed as one of the decade’s great television documentaries.”

Wrote History Television’s Sydney Suissa, now the VP of Content for National Geographic Channels International (NGC), “The wealth of research is astounding and thorough, with a wonderful breadth of archival resources throughout. Clearly this was a labour of love, and it shows…”

“The Great Anglo-Boer War: the Canadian Experience,” would be awarded an astonishing four Gold Medals, at Worldfest Houston, the largest film and television festival in the world, for:
- Best History and Archaeology Program – for Part/hour one
- Best Television Series - Documentary
- Best News & Documentary Writing – for Part/hour four
- Best On-Camera Host – for John Goldi

“Outrageous! – Four Gold Medals” wrote the President of Houston Worldfest in congratulating us.

All won in competition with the best producers and productions from around the world, with our “series” programs battling against the best “one ofs” quality single television productions.

And all of it – all phases of production from first to last – done by only two creative craftspeople, and technicians, Joan Goldi and John Goldi csc, which, based on my perspective of 36 years in the Canadian film and television industry, is an unprecedented achievement, where a multi-hour series of prime time television programming of this quality always involves the talents of many scores of creative, technical, and craftspeople to carry out.

With the completion of the documentary, I began a single-handed, but passionate campaign, to urge the Canadian government “To End a Century of Neglect,” to officially recognize a Canadian historic event that had heretofore been completely overlooked and ignored, both “in the books” and completely unmarked with official signage anywhere.

Go to Gold Medal Outrage

Phase: 3 – The World’s Largest & Most Lavishly Illustrated Internet Museum

The Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum - In conjunction with the Television series I also developed the largest and most lavishly illustrated website ever created to accompany a television series anywhere in the world.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
Cheese Dish, Boer War Generals - 1900
Orig. dish - Image Size - 21 x 25 x 14h cm
Found - Newton Abbot, UK
Collection of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum

I developed a totally unique “Museum” concept of presentation, by spinning off educational modules by featuring the exhibition of a unique major original Canadian historic artifact and then telling an associated story related to it.

The Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum ended up becoming the largest, most lavishly illustrated internet museum website in the world, featuring thousands of original Canadian historic artifacts, thousands of lavish pictures, and many hundreds of monstrously long pages of information.

The contents of its pages outstripped, by far, the museum website offerings of the premier bricks and mortar museums and art galleries of the world including:
- Britain’s Imperial War Museum,
- the US Smithsonian Institution, let alone,
- Canada’s own Canadian War Museum,
- the Canadian Museum of History,

- the Royal Ontario Museum, and
- the Art Gallery of Ontario.

In 2015, “The Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum” remains, by far, the biggest and most lavishly illustrated internet museum in the world. And it’s Canadian.

Several years later The Government of Canada, inspired by the success of our trailblazing museum and following our museum model, set up its own Virtual Museum of Canada.

Go to the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum

 

 

Go to The Curators Choice of 266
Great Canadian Historical Memorabilia Items

 

 

Phase: 4 – A Personal Proposal Urging Ottawa “To End a Century of Neglect”

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
Carruthers Gould Toby Jugs 1917
Orig. ceramic toby jugs - Image Size - 27 cm
Found - Ottawa, ON
Collection of the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum

In 2004, I began my campaign for official historical signage by submitting and personally delivering, a huge proposal package (comprising of written materials, research from a two-month on the ground investigation in South Africa, multi-award winning supporting videos, a huge internet museum website) to the Department of Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada, and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and urging officials to put up proper signage to commemorate Canada’s first ever participation in an overseas war, because there was none.

And the 100th anniversary of Canada’s participation in the South African War (1999) had come and gone, and the Canadian government had done absolutely nothing to rectify the situation or correct the oversight. And showed no sign of ever intending to.

My jump-start proposal was answered, a year later, in 2005, with a personal letter, from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Stéphane Dion.

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Goldi, I am pleased to advise you that I have recently designated Canada and the South African War an event of national historic significance.”

Before government money or recognition can be devoted to publicizing any Canadian event or site it has to be given official recognition. This had now been accomplished.

Dion noted further that “preparation for a plaque unveiling ceremony entail consultation with you...”

My research also exposed over 100 Boer War photos, previously passed off, for 100 years as genuine combat photos, as total fakes, including this one gracing the cover of the most scholarly work ever done of Canadians in the Boer War. And passed off, in book after book, for 100 years as Canadians in action, in the heat of battle. I exposed it as just another fake.
Go to Great Canadian Fakes

Dion’s landmark ruling – OK, so it is 106 years late - would permit and entail the setting up the first ever Canadian Historic Sites and Monuments Board plaques on the African continent.

This designation of the South African War as an “event of national historic significance” would also clear the way for new signage commemorating the Canadians who served in that war to be posted on the Canadian National War Memorial - now 106 years overdue.

Before anything could be done to amend the National War Memorial, another war – in Afghanistan – intervened. It was decided to wait with new signage until combat in that war was also completed, as it was in March 2014.

Only eight months later, on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, 2014, the Afghan War dates were put up on the west side of the central arch of the memorial.

And – OK, so it’s 115 years late – at the same time, so were the dates for the South African War, on the eastern, exact opposite side of the central arch.

 

All possible, only because, in 2005, Stéphane Dion had “designated Canada and the South African War an event of national historic significance.”

All as a result of a history initiative I had begun, and a private appeal I had made, supported by an award-winning feature documentary, an enormously lavish Anglo-Boer War Museum website, years of intense specialized research, months of in-depth, on the ground investigation in South Africa, and a private plea to multiple Canadian government ministries, with a personal proposal “To End a Century of Neglect.”

So finally ending a historical injustice done to a past generation of Canadian veterans that had lasted for 115 years…

Below, the bottom of the central arch in 1939, is bare of the dates for the South African War, that would not be added till 2014.

The same site, from the same point of view, forty years apart, with Canadian artillerymen crossing the bridge to entrain for the Boer War in 1899, passing the spot where Canada's National War Memorial would be set up, and their patriotism would be ignored for 115 years.

X Marks the same building in the three photos. The fabulous Post Office below was pulled down to create space for the memorial in 1938.

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