Good friend Rebecca Coleman invited me to do some co-hosting for her youtube channel on Aquafaba and her cookbook Aquafabulous. While we were filming I thought it was a great idea to wear my famous Bus Shirts. Rebecca decided to make a trailer of my our conversation and how the Bus Shirt came to be.
This post is an email from my father. When I visited Vimy Ridge I had no idea our relative John (Jock) MacGregorcommonly known as Uncle Mac fought at Vimy Ridge I knew of his service since high school but never knew he fought in this historic Canadian battle until I returned from my trip abroad.
This weekend marks the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The ridge had long been held by Germany with the Allies trying unsuccessfully to capture the ridge several times. This was the first battle where Canada’s troops were together under Canadian command.
We have a relative who played a key role in winning the battle. He was John (Jock) MacGregor who later married Granny Newman’s (nee Louisa Amelia Nelmes) niece, Ethel Flowers. To the family they were Uncle Mac and Aunt Ethel and lived in Powell River, B. C. Their oldest son, Jim, wrote a book about Uncle Mac’s life titled MacGregor VC.
Sergeant MacGregor was in charge of “C” Company and at 5:30 am on April 9th, 1917 he led them through light snow flurries to the attack. Their objective was an enemy trench line 700 yards away through heavily defended terrain as shown in the pictures. Part way through, they were pinned down by machine gun fire. Sergeant MacGregor told his men to take cover as he went on ahead and singlehandedly took out the machine gun nest, killed the crew and captured the gun. He then led “C” Company to their enemy trench objective. Sergeant MacGregor then fired three white flares that signified their success. They had secured their objective in 30 minutes, a few minutes ahead of time. The opening battle was won – soon followed by Canada taking the ridge.
We visited Vimy last June and I have included some pictures of what it looks like now. It is peaceful, green and eerily beautiful. How they could advance against the well entrenched enemy is beyond me. I checked with an historian there and he confirmed that “C” Company was the first to reach their objective.
Uncle Mac went on to more heroic deeds. He ended up being Canada’s most decorated WW1 foot soldier. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Cross with Bar, and the Victoria Cross (our nation’s highest award).
I have a hard time relating the quiet, soft spoken man I knew with the man revealed in his war record. In fact, I didn’t know much of his war history until I started doing Family History.
Canada’s success at Vimy is often credited with our country coming of age and taking its place as an independent nation. Uncle Mac played an important role in it.
There is much more about him and the battle on the internet and I have a file on him.
The pictures are of the battlefield (seen below), the modern concrete version of one of the trenches, and one of the allies tunnels. Since the ridge battle lines were stable for a couple of years, both sides built tunnels. The tunnel was right where “C” Division prepared to go out and over the top of the trenches.
While I will be watching the ceremonies on TV. I really enjoyed walking around the imposing monument alone in the rain. I was awestruck by it’s beauty in quite contemplation.
Other friends Flynn O’Connor and Jeremy Felt got into the game and donated to Ibrahim and his beer and stout business. Two craft beer affectionados helping out another worlds away.
On Mothers Day I though of giving the gift of Kiva but getting my parents involved was a little harder then I originally though.
They are generous people who regularly donate to charities and such. But the concept of micro-finance, crowd funding and field parters was all quite new and they didn’t understand if it was a donation or a loan.
So we put it off for a couple months and while we were out for dinner one night I explain what micro finance was and how this was empowering people who couldn’t even the smallest of loans for there business. How they weren’t taking on the entire loan but a portion and how they were payed back and then they could loan it out again.
Lastly I tried to explain field partners to them. This was actually quite difficult because my folks though we were actually donating to Kiva.
They were still somewhat unclear how the whole processed worked mainly the loan part and they repayment terms… But one thing my stubborn mother taught me well was be determined and don’t give up… Well I didn’t…
On Christmas Eve of 2013 I saw my dad on a charity website asking him to donate. I asked why he didn’t try a kiva loan.
We sat down and I showed him my profile and then I showed him how you could pick someone, anyone. He suggested we find someone in the Philippines. We decided on Antonieta and her little store.
My father also made a second loan to Victor a chicken farmer from Peru.
I was so happy that they finally understood the process and decided to give it a try.
My mother who was the most skeptical of the enter process said.
“I wish them the best of luck in there business venture, but if we don’t get the money back will consider it a donation” I was glad to see such a turn around from her as well.
I also decided to give my brothers wife Michelle a Kiva Gift Card and she though it that was one of the most thoughtful gifts and can’t wait to pick who she can help out.
Post Script: I have asked Kiva about the interest rate that there field parents apply to the loans as I hear they can be quite high. Will keep you posted on my correspondence.