BARRY'S BAY – Back in the early 1940s, more than 1.1 million Canadians served in the Second World War.
Canada was the first Commonwealth country to send troops to Britain in 1939.
From 1939 to 1945, hundreds of thousands of Canadians – more than 40 per cent of the male population between the ages of 18 and 45, volunteered and enlisted.
Boys and men from small towns and large towns across the country made up that 1.1 million. Boys and men from Barry’s Bay helped make up that 1.1 million.
They ventured into war willingly.
But soldiers weren’t the only ones back in the 1940s in Barry’s Bay who wanted to help – who wanted to contribute in some way.
A man by the name of Thomas Skuce in Barry’s Bay wanted to help.
And he helped a little by sending cigarettes to soldiers across seas.
Local Bob Chippure helped discover Skuces’ story. For his father and uncle, Anthony (Tony) and Ambrose Chippure were two Skuce helped.
“I came across the information about a year ago by accident,” Bob admitted.
Skuce managed to, through the Imperial Tobacco Sales Company of Canada Limited and through the Upper Ottawa Valley Veterans Association, to have hundreds of cigarettes sent to soldiers, Bob explained.
“Everyone smoked like hell in them days,” Bob said.
To do his part, almost 75 years ago, Skuce alongside a few handy helpers travelled across Barry’s Bay and close by areas and collected donations to help pay for soldier’s cigarettes.
He eventually developed lists upon lists of soldiers to send the cigarettes to, Bob explained.
“I was personally amazed when I seen it,” Bob said.
Familiar names like Cybulskie, Biernacki, Davis, Dennison, Dupuis and Etmanski are seen on the lists.
Skuce kept up with cigarette sending for some time too, Bob said.
Read more in the November 6, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.