Famous New West war photo highlighted in Sun’s coverage of B.C.’s 150th birthday

B.C. celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and as part of the Vancouver Sun’s coverage , it put together a list of the top 10 photos in our province’s history. Somewhat surprisingly to me, only one is taken in New Westminster (but I suppose they had to spread it around a bit). It is the iconic imageRead More

B.C. celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and as part of the Vancouver Sun’s coverage , it put together a list of the top 10 photos in our province’s history.

Somewhat surprisingly to me, only one is taken in New Westminster (but I suppose they had to spread it around a bit). It is the iconic image of a little boy running after his father , who is marching off to war. The photo was taken on Columbia Street by photographer Claude Detloff for The Province newspaper, and the man in the photo is Pte. Jack Bernard, a member of the B.C. Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles).

From the newspaper’s description:

This photograph by Dettloff, who was honoured by his peers for this candid street portrait of a tender moment, was hung in every B.C. school and became one of the most widely recognized Canadian images from the Second World War. Whitey Barnard, who was enlisted to help sell war bonds with this photograph as a backdrop, later settled in Tofino.

I’ve always loved the photograph, and I’m glad it was included in the top 10 list. Given that next year is New Westminster’s 150th birthday, maybe our local historian Archie Miller and the New Westminster Historical Society will compile a similar list from the city’s archives. The city will be doling out grants for the coming year for projects celebrating our 150th, and I hope one of the winning ideas will show off our rich photographic archive.

Update: Amazingly, the Sun’s slideshow of Royal visits doesn’t appear to include any to The Royal City! And no mention is made of Royal visits to New Westminster (named after the Queen’s favourite part of England)! Here’s one from my husband’s family’s archives:

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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5 comments

  1. For our book "A New Westminster Album: Glimpses of the City as it Was" (2005) we were able to trackdown and interview both the photographer's daughter, and the little boy "Whitey" Bernard. Both told us how the photo had changed their lives, and both were very giving of their time and thoughts so many years past. It was one of the most rewarding of our historic research moments, and also of our lifetime bests. "Whitey" even sent us an e-mail when our book came out in 2005, and said he wished he could have been their for the launch, but was travelling the USA with his wife in their mobile home.

  2. Does anyone have any input as to what happened to Jack Bernard? Did he survive the war to become reunited with his father? I've always wondered.

  3. Wow! Nevermind. I see in the link to the story, he returned after fighting in France and the Netherlands. How wonderful. A much happier ending than I expected.

  4. Unfortunately the marriage did not survive the War. "He was not the same man who went away", said "Whitey", and when my dad came back .. too much had changed here as well". Bernice Bernard and Jack Bernard both eventually married others, and lead separate lives. Jack worked as a salesman at a Vancouver sawmill. Bernice during the and after the war worked in a number of places, including Pacific Mills in Ocean Falls, Vanocuver Island, and BC Laminated Floors in Vancouver. "Whitey" moved to Vancouver Lsland as an adult, opened a gas station, got married in 1969, and became a father of four. His self assurance led him to success in business and in politics. He was asked to runa as an alderman and was elected several times, and served a term as mayor of Tofino, before becoming an alderman again. "I can speak as easy to five as I can to five thousand, that I owe to the War Bonds Drive and the photo", he said. He is still aive and going strong.

  5. @Gavin.

    You my friend have to tell a New Westminster story on Tenth to the Fraser. Your public is screaming for you!

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