A Whiff of Smoke and a Heartfelt Thanks to All Who Serve

Remembrance Day is a special day of reflection for me. My family has a long history of military service – I was a Canadian Forces reservist during my university days in Kingston, Ontario. Both my parents served in the RCAF in the 1950’s. My grandfather was a Royal Canadian Corps of Signals despatch rider in WWII, running his Army-issue Triumph motorcycle  up the length of Italy. My great-grandfather fought in both the Boer War and the First World War, and lies in a Canadian military cemetery in France. If I go back far enough, I can trace the family military legacy in Canada back to Scottish soldiers stepping off their transport ships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, sent by the British Crown to build and defend a new colony that would one day be a nation stretching from Atlantic to Pacific.

This sense of continuity through the generations was reinforced suddenly for me during my local Remembrance Day parade yesterday. The Padre had just invoked two minutes of silence, and as I stood quietly in the crowd of observers, I caught a stray whiff of pipe smoke on the breeze. The distinctive scent, in that place and at that time, brought together for me  images of generations of soldiers, sailors and airmen with  generations of pipe smokers and those that loved them. This connection to the past and the sense of continuing the tradition are two of the reasons I take such satisfaction from restoring old estate pipes. Some things are worth keeping alive.

Here is a short pictorial salute to Brothers in Arms over the last century who were also Brothers of the Briar. To all those men and women, then and now, thank you for your service.


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