George Blackburn
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BLACKBURN, George G. Peacefully, in his sleep, at 11:11 a.m. November 15, 2006, in his 90th year at Ottawa's General Hospital where he'd been diagnosed with cancer. Predeceased by his wife of 60 years Grace Fortington, four years ago. Survived by three children, daughter Andrea of Tallahassee, Florida, his sons Mark of Winnipeg and Ron of Ottawa. George G. Blackburn is also survived by grandchildren Kim, David, Aaron, Ben, and Maxine, and by great-grandchildren Victoria, Matthew, Thomas, Emily and Lochlan. A man of many talents, including gifted pianist/composer, he suddenly found himself, late in life, with hundreds of new friends from around the world after authoring a WWII book trilogy, the first of which "Guns of Normandy", was winner ten years ago of the Ottawa Citizen Book of the Year Award (1996). The books provided a first hand account of Canadian soldiers in action but didn't include details of how the author, as a young artillery officer, was awarded the Military Cross in 1944 for helping save a key bridgehead at the Twente Canal in Holland. Late-in-life awards included the Order of Canada, the French Legion of Honour, the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. Earlier awards included honours for plays and films of note. After a pre-war stint as reporter for the Ottawa Journal in Pembroke, Captain George Blackburn returned from Europe to serve as Director of Information, and Director of Fair Employment Practices, for the Federal Department of Labour. Starting in the 1950's he became producer of the longest-running radio show "Canada at Work", as well as an award-winning documentary film script writer, which films included topics on the Older Worker; Anti-Discrimination; a film starring Wayne & Schuster called "You can Go a Long Way", encouraging teenagers to stay in high school rather than drop out; and the country's most successful government campaign, "Why wait for Spring? Do It Now!" Winter Works Campaign, which revolutionized winter construction and employment during the winter months. Born in 1917 in a farmhouse near Wales, Ontario, a village which disappeared beneath the waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway, George Blackburn would later commemorate the "saga of the Seaway", in his musical play "A Day to Remember" whose songs were among hundreds for which he composed words and music. His musical was professionally performed for two summers, at a theatre of his own creation, near Upper Canada Village. His last expressed wish was that "young people" be made aware of the sacrifice made by (generations of) soldiers on behalf of Canadian freedom." Only weeks ago, he'd made his final, annual visit to Manitoba's Camp Shilo - to address Canada's young artillery officers. On a personal note, George Blackburn never "talked the talk" of organized religion - though he believed in a creator God. But he "walked the walk" never allowing anyone to "pick up the tab" at any event he attended, and providing a life long banquet for widows and others who could never repay him in kind. A great man, profoundly missed by those who survive him. A celebration of George's life will be held on Saturday, November 18, at Pinecrest Visitation Centre, 2500 Baseline Road, Ottawa, from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Ottawa Citizen from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18, 2006.
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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50 entries
January 11, 2015
Hello and thanks, Jeff McLaughlin. If my father George Blackburn were still with us, I know he'd love to know which incident/episode you most appreciated in his trilogy. I know I'd love to hear what you have to say. Thanks again for your heartfelt posting, fully 30 years after your uncle's passing. He must have been a good man -- someone my Dad would have recalled with fondness.

Mark Blackburn
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
Mark Blackburn
January 11, 2015
Dear Jeff,
Thank you for sharing your uncle's story and for your heartfelt words in this legacy gallery. What was your uncle's name? My grandfather would have been fascinated to speak with your uncle, I'm sure, and would have so deeply respected your uncle's experience surviving not only that length of time at war but also Dieppe. What an example noble people like your uncle were! Thank you so much for writing on this page.
January 9, 2015
My uncle was a gunner in the 4tjh field regiment from Sarnia (26th Battery). We hunted and fished together but rarely mentioned the war, despite surviving Green Beach at Dieppe and the march the the second division until war ended.

Capt Blackburn's trilogy has left me with a priceless memory of my uncle and what he and others did for us all. God Bless you for explaining what it was like for him. he is still my hero. He passed in 1984
Jeff McLaughlin. Sarnia
Jeff McLaughlin
November 4, 2011
I'm happy that my great-grandfather is being recognized as he should be here in this page. He touched many people's lives, and I hope the number continues to grow. This is a perfect explanation of his life, and though I only saw him a few times, I still have fond memories of him.
Thomas Blackburn
December 15, 2010
Mr. Blackburn called the Cornwall Public Library in 2001, looking for some articles. I was lucky enough to take his call, and offer him the research help that he needed. He mailed a letter to the library in my name, with his requests. I researched what he had asked for, and returned it to him. I had no idea who I was speaking to! Only when a book arrived at my home, "Where the hell are the Guns" dated November 11,01 and signed 'George', did it click.
He wrote a note in the book thanking me. I was happy to help him, he was so polite and friendly, and enjoyable to chat with.
This lovely,pleasant gentleman I helped sent me a letter and Christmas card every year until he passed away. In turn, I never forgot to mail one to him and his dear wife Grace.
I looked forward to those cards, and long 4 page letter that I read with great interest. One year, he sent a card with a photo of his wife on the front, and inside, photos of himself with his sweetheart, chronicling their first date, engagement and birth of their child, all in the Christmas season. Such beautiful photos. Only as I continued to read that I realized, she was gone. It broke my heart, I cried for a couple I never met, but felt I knew.
When my own dear mother passed away, I wrote him a note in his card, and told him. He sent me a lovely letter, with his sympathies and comfort.
He was a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and character. I kept every one of those cards and letters. Each Christmas, I take them out, read them again, and think of the person behind the words. The soldier, the author, the husband and father. I pray for him and his lovely family. His memory lives on in so many people's hearts that he touched. He and his wife Grace, certainly live on in mine, every Christmas.
Julie McCann-Poirier
February 18, 2010
Thanks to all of you dear hearts for your kind words in memory of my dear Dad. Right after the war, when Dad came home from overseas and I met him for the first time, he would have army friends over to visit, and I heard them share memories of the war. Even at that tender young age, I was mesmerized by the stories, and by Dad's magical way of conveying his own impressions. Years later, I was thrilled when he finally responded to my pleas to write down his war experiences -- for the sake of his grandchildren, if nothing else! When he finally sat down to write what became the "Guns Trilogy", I held my breath and prayed he would see it through. It was his crowning glory to finish what became a lasting tribute to the monumental Canadian war effort and have them published in the last decade of his long life of writing plays, films, music, and musicals, magazine articles and radio shows. The fact that his writing affected so many of you in such profoundly touching ways, means more to my family and me than you could know. Thanks so much for your support while Dad lived -- he loved you all so much, and never tired of meeting with you or speaking with you on the phone. Every person who cared enough to tell him they loved his work brought him boundless happiness. With fondest love to you all, Andrea (Blackburn, Seim) Thompson -- George Blackburn's daughter.
Andrea (Blackburn, Seim) Thompson
December 12, 2009
Though I have had opportunities over the years to read George Blackburn's books, it was only recently that I took the time to read these marvellous books in their entirety. They are a wonderful and very moving account of the trials and tribulations of war,of its impact on everyday Canadians , and Canada's, and ordinary Canadians', role in the conflict of W.W.II. They are a tribute to all the great Canadians who fought, and died, in that war. As veterans like George Blackburn are passing from the scene, these books are moving testaments to the immeasurable sacrifices they made for all of us. I would recommend these books highly to anyone who cares about our history, and the irreplaceable role that these veterans played in protecting and preserving our freedom and heritage.
Peter Galway
December 16, 2008
This book has come with the highest recommendations and through I have just started reading it I am being transported to 1939.
Thank you for suggesting it Kim.
Rory McDonnell
December 6, 2008
On behalf of the Blackburn family, (I am George's 61-year-old son in Winnipeg) I'm sure I speak for all of us in saying, Thank you, Patrick Hogan for your moving tribute . . . which I am certain Dad would treasure!

Again and again, my father shared with me the impact that notes like yours, Patrick had on him. Yes he was pleased at the fact that his trilogy sold an amazing 80,000 copies (with attendant royalties).

But the experience that "blew him away," (time and again) was when someone like you, Patrick, contacted him to say what an impact those books had had, on a young person's life.

Sometimes it was someone (like a film director in Winnipeg) who wrote to say, "I never understood my father; he returned from the war an alcoholic, and could never speak about his experiences. After he died, I hated Remembrance Day, and refused to wear a poppy. Then I read your books, Mr. Blackburn . . . and understood my father for the first time."

This, by way of thanks to you, Patrick Hogan for your moving tribute -- such a welcome addition to a guest book lovingly maintained on line by my dear niece "Kim" -- George G. Blackburn's eldest grandchild, who always showed loving appreciation for her grandfather (including a beautiful Remembrance Day poem, which he had framed and displayed on the wall of his home in Ottawa).

It's young people like you, Patrick, in B.C. and our niece Kim (Taylor-Galway) in Ontario, who keep the memory of those like George Blackburn alive in our hearts and minds. And for this, we are deeply grateful.

Mark Blackburn
Winnipeg
Mark Blackburn
November 2, 2008
Blackburn Family,

I've just finished reading all three of George's 'Guns' books and wish there were 10 more to devour.

I thought it important for you to know I now take the time to sit with my teenagers and explain Canada's key role in WWII, played out by George and the heros' he writes about.

We laughed about the cow falling into the cellar door during the Rhineland battles. I shake my head at how many time death almost took George but for 5 minutes delay or 100 feet away from a horrible death.

I like to think George would be pleased to know someone of my generation (Gen Y) takes the time to consider each name George mentions in his book either alive or when they were killed. These are real life heros, like your Dad, who stood for something great. And because of your Dad, their names mean something and are remembered & revered today. I think that's why he wrote them so I'm pleased to know he'd be pleased.

Canada could not be the shining example of compassion, fairness and freedom we enjoy today without your Dad and his magnificent generation.
Patrick Hogan
October 7, 2008
Hi Mike,

Thank you for your entry into our Guest Book. Mark mentioned in his note to you below, the second anniversary of George's death is drawing near, making November even more significant to me. For as many years as I can remember, Rememberance Day was strictly and whole heartedly observed by all in our family, always with trips to the Cenotaph in Ottawa so long as my grandfather could attend (and the last two years he was hosptilized we made the trip to be with him in the hospital room to watch CBC's coverage of it with him).

Along the densely lined curbs of Wellington and Elgin on those bitterly cold November mornings, there was a solidarity among everyone in the crowd as we paid our respects to our beloved veterans both living and dead. My heart was heavy however, each time I recognized my grandfather's overwhelming sense of humility. While the family went to honour him as well as the other brave people who served, he never seemed to perceive our presence in that light. It's as though it never occured to him that he was a part of the group we were there to pay hommage to.

Your family's close ties to the memories of war must have done wonders to shape your life as well. I'm so glad you found this site and very grateful to you for taking the time to write.

Our generation(s) are being counted on now to be vigilant about the lessons learned, the eternal debt we owe our vets and to continue to honour and revere them. Entries like yours and the other kind words in these pages, remind us that the flame is still very alive in the hearts of those left behind.

Warmest wishes and sincere thanks, Mike, and all the best to your family too,

Kim Taylor-Galway
Kim Taylor-Galway
October 1, 2008
Hi Mark,

Sorry for not leaving my contact information; indeed, sometimes things are meant to be.

Here is my e-mail address:
whitespur@shaw.ca

I have spoken to my grandmother many times about the war years, and it has always been very difficult for her. My only regret is that I didn't pursue my interest further until shortly before your father's death.

I can understand George's disappointment in Grandma not reading his books, but it was a different time then. A time when service to king and country was, for better or worse, more important at times than family.

My mother, Phyllis, was just 17 months old when Jack volunteered and left for England in 1939...and 7 years old when he returned in 1945.

Indeed, the image that George created in his book of her standing on the train station with mom is especially poignant.

The hardship of this type of situation is something I have a hard time grasping; it is just beyond our comprehension in this day and age.

It is obvious that George was a wealth of information on those terrible years, and more specifically the incredible journey that the 4th Field Regiment took through western Europe. His passing was indeed a loss on many fronts, not the least of which is passing on WWII history to the generations that followed...

I will be sure to contact you via e-mail, and perhaps we can continue together in this pursuit of our family history. I am going to see Grandma in the next day or 2, she now lives in a retirement condo here in St. Albert...well into her 90's now but still very healthy, actually still driving her car if you can imagine!

I'll be sure to let her know I have been in contact with you, I'm sure she'll be happy!

Take care Mark, and I will be in touch.
Mike Borle
September 30, 2008
Dear Mike,

As the second anniversary of my father's death nears, something guided me to your message (posted I see only yesterday, September 29) and since you didn't use that "CONTACT ME" function (with email address) I feel compelled to thank you directly right now.

Nancy Sinatra (the one and only) kindly asked me to start a thread about my father "I think," she wrote, "that others would be interested" (at sinatrafamily.com the website that Nancy maintains). I did so, and I think you would enjoy reading what I posted there (in their "FORUMS" section, in the "Unforgettable" folder, "My Father -- George G. Blackburn" (clear as mud?)

Your grandfather Jack Bigg was my Godfather! The "Member of Parliament for Canada's largest riding -- Athabaska" was a dear family friend, and George Blackburn cherished his times with Jack. (It always bothered my father than your grandmother Gladys declined to read about your grandfather in Dad's books, on the grounds that even thinking about war was too painful for her.

Every time I pass our train station on the way to work, the transit point for thousands of young Canadian soldier -- including your grandfather -- en route to serving overseas in WWII . . . I think of Jack Bigg and his pregnant wife Gladys seeing him off at that station.

Just had to say I was "guided" to visit here today, Mike. My late Mom, "Grace" would always say, "That's no coincidence!"

Feel free to email me, Mike. And may you and your family be well and happy!

Mark Blackburn
Winnipeg

markbla@hotmail.com
Mark Blackburn
September 29, 2008
My grandfather, F.J. (Jack) Bigg served with George Blackburn during WWII. He was mentioned several times in George's books.

I was honored to be in touch with George (through my grandmother, Gladys Bigg)...shortly before his death in 2006. George was gracious enough to send me a copy of "Guns of Normandy", as well as several legion publications that I believe he had received from my grandfather...who was later a member of Parliament for many years.

If there are any members of George's family that would like to contact me, please do...
Mike Borle
December 27, 2007
While I'm deeply saddened by George Blackburn's passing away, I'm so honored to have corresponded with him since 2004. Not only was he a public servant and a war hero but also an exceptional and award-winning writer, seasoned journalist, creative composer and songwriter, and an award-winning playwright. The last mail I received from him was dated September 28, 2006 thanking me greatly for my review of "Where The Hell Are The Guns?" as well as "The Guns of Normandy" and "The Guns of Victory." Although he had written lengthy letters to me in the past, one of which is a six-page-letter, which according to Mark was the longest he had ever written in his letter-writing-history, this latest one is the shortest but so meaningful to me since this is the very last letter he had written over a month ago before his death - this was confirmed to me by Mark.

September 28, 2006

Dear Rebecca,

I yearn to be able to compose a proper note about your reviews. I want to say thank you - thank you for your wonderful review of September 21, 2006 at Amazon.com. However, I must be left using some of the simple words - Thank you greatly. Thank you. Thank you.

(Signed) George G. Blackburn

Mark told me that just weeks before his death, he was at Camp Shilo in Manitoba, Canada for his annual visit to speak before the young artillery officers in training. Each speech he delivered year after year, he would always remind them to "remember the sacrifices made by the Canadian soldiers of yesterday to attain freedom."

Mr. Blackburn had been described as "fun-loving, gregarious, piano-playing-story-teller with a twinkling eye and a gift of telling-phrase." He mentioned in one of his letters that he has not been listening to music and played the piano after the death of his wife, Grace. He said "it was too unbearable for him." But I encouraged him to listen to music again and sent him some classical CDs of Chopin, Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Mozart and soon after started listening to music again and very much enjoyed it.

My deepest sympathy and my fervent prayers are with the family of the late George G. Blackburn - Mark, Andrea and Ron and the rest of the family. May his soul rest in peace.

"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." ~ Lt. Barry Drewes ~
Rebecca B. Preciado
December 16, 2007
Our grandfather (my great grandfather) who we called Bumpa was very special to us. My family and me were very proud of him and what he's done. We are reading his first book right now "Where The Hell Are The Guns" and it really shows what the war was like. I'm really enjoying it. Thanks to everyone who has signed this guestbook. It shows how special he was to many people, so thanks :)
Bumpa, we miss you.
-Matt
Matthew Makhoul
September 5, 2007
Mark's father must have been a very special man and I know he was loved by his friends and family.

I hope all who were close to him will find peace in his historic legacy and carry it forward.

My condolences to you, Mark, and to the rest of your family. Thank you for sharing his story.

Love,

Nancy
Nancy Sinatra
August 19, 2007
Being an ex Artillery man (23 years served), I have just read Georges book :The Guns of War. I found it incredible, moving and fascinating that procedures used during his day, are not too far dissimilar to that used to this very day (and certinaly in mine) in field Artillery. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner. God bless you.
peter rigby
January 20, 2007
I first came to know about George Blackburn whilst researching the Fortington family in Canada. Today I am sitting at home in tropical Queensland, Australia during the "very" wet season, surfing the internet and being thoroughly amazed by this very special human being.
My sincere sympathy to all who were personally touched by George.
Gary Fortington
January 20, 2007
Sad to hear of George Blackburn passing away. His book "The Guns of Victory" brought me closer to my understanding of the battle my uncle died in during February 1945. A superb writer. God bless his soul for the contribution he left behind so that others may learn from his experiences. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
Dan Avey
January 9, 2007
Hoping to hear more about George Blackburn and his wonderful life. We have enjoyed the comments by all of the friends and family. Hope to hear more things as you discover mail from people that can be shared with all of us. I appreciated the pictures people sent in and would like to hear from the family.
Terry Fenwick
December 15, 2006
December 15,2007
Ron, Mark and Andrea
May peace fill your heart, May faith light your way, May hope turn your thoughts to a happier day, May love beyond knowing so strong and so true, Lighten your grief and bring comfort to you. Even in this time of sorrow your heart must know that memories will always endure and that the bonds of love can never be broken. With sincere sympathy our hearts go out to you...
Ted , Carolyn and Christine Mercer
Ted Mercer
December 13, 2006
Rad and I send our deepest sympathies to all of George's family. We shall miss him greatly. We were distressed that we couldn't come to his funeral as Rad finds it too difficult and painful to travel.
Pat Radley-Walters
December 13, 2006
George Blackburn at the Groningen train station in the Netherlands, 6 May 2005. In WW2 George entered the station as a FOO with the RHLI's (Rileys).
To Andrea, Mark, and Ron Blackburn,

I met your father through our mutual friend Syd Radley-Walters and was so thrilled to have been regaled by George at The Mill in Ottawa. We subsequently shot a documentary on his trip to the Netherlands for VE Day in 2005.

The production was postponed after his ill-health in 2005. I visited him on Remembrance Day '05 in hospital in Ottawa. He looked terrific, but, of course, could not remember me.

Months later in June '06 he was the special guest at an artillery dinner at the Royal Cdn Military Institute in Toronto. Imagine my elation when, as soon as I walked in the door, his face lit up to greet me. His memory was coming back. I was heartened to spend some of that evening and the next day with George and Herb Danter.

It was a shock to learn of his passing when I was out of the country. I was sadly unable to make the ceremony in Ottawa as it would have meant a lot to me. My deepest regrets go out to your family. George was a special man who has thankfully left us the legacy of his jaw-dropping trilogy.
Glenn Warner
December 4, 2006
Paul Dunseath
December 2, 2006
Dear Family,

What a wonderful man and a soldiers' soldier.I joined as a Gunner 29 August 39, and transferred to the South Sask. Regiment in 1943. Many a time during the actions in Normandy through to Holland we thanked the gunners of 4, 5, and 6th Brigade in coming to our aid during a "sticky spot".Those Gunners could hear our prayers. I met George at Groesbeek. His books told the true stories of the Canadian Army of NW Europe Campaign - Once a Gunner always a Gunner.

P-7521 Peter T. Maule'
Victoria, B.C.
Peter & Lindsey Maule'
November 28, 2006
Andrea, Mark and Ron,

Your father George was many things to many people - war hero, playwrite, Director in the Canadian civil service, home builder, noted football player, musician, composer and above all a great raconteur.

Although George was all of these things in my world as well, I will remember him first and formost as a man of principle and honour.
Jim Officer
November 28, 2006
Dear Andrea, Mark and Ron - Your father is still on my mind as I try to make myself believe that he won't be sending one of his wonderful homemade Christmas cards this year. All his creative and warm communications will give us fond memories for the rest of our lives.
In the last note from him he asked if I would like to read a draft copy of stories from his childhood entitled "The Golden Years." I had not answered that question and regret that I did not.
My deepest sympathy in the loss of your unique and wonderful dad, George Blackburn.
Anita Rutledge. Colleague, Labour Dept.
Anita Rutledge
November 28, 2006
After having heard about Mr. Blackburn all my life from my Dad, Rock Malloy, I couldn't have been happier or felt more privileged to have have met your Dad/Grandpa in person.
God bless you all at this sad time and remember our loss is Heaven's gain.
Shelley Waterman
November 25, 2006
Your Dears,

Last week our secr. was informed - that your great father passed away - ninety years old, after a blessed and fruitful life.

His 'Guns of Victory' will be in silence now - but the echo's will go on in hearts and thoughts, also in The Netherlands – especially too in our midst.

Our – rather new – member Kees Hopmans visited him several times; we exchanged a good number of letters, before George came in our midst, May 2005.

We are happy that we could fulfil one of his dear wishes; to see again the farmhouse near Louisendorf, Germany – where too he experienced the hectic moments of battle. Them, May seven, he again climbed into the him well known windmill – the ‘Zuidmolen’ – in Groesbeek, with mr Jochijms, the miller.

George unveiled the bronze plaque, dealing with the long and bitter winter months, 1944-1945, when the Groesbeek area civilians were evacuated to north and south. George’s plaque and book, but most his personality will keep alive as a monument the black period in which Canadian Servicemen between WAAL/RHINE and MAAS rivers had to oversee the ‘door’, through which they selves together with the other allied formations could effectuate the drive, ending WWII in Europe; and the return of the evacuees.

Saturday November 11th we celebrated ‘Poppy Day’, at the Canadian War Cemetery at Groesbeek, amidst the graves and the headstones with the Maple Leave.
Many Canadian Servicemen and Civilians, and Dutch area civilians participated.

The liberation will have an extra dimension – and personal face: the face of your and our beloved George G Blackburn.

For the Groesbeek Airborne Friends; Piet Janssen, secr., Marco Cillessen, treas., Mrs Jeanne Melchers, Kees Hopmans, Herman Wijnhoven, Gerrie Franken, Nol Saedt, Jan Bos, Gerrie Driessen, Jan & Ellen Nas, and for civilians in the Nijmegen-Groesbeek area:
we will remember him – including in our prayers.

Father Gerard Thuring, chrm
Groesbeek Airborne Friends
November 24, 2006
My deepest heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Blackburn family at this time. I had the absolute pleasure of being George's Escort Officer on his last visit to the Home Station. He kept thanking me for ensuring that they were shuttled between the quarters and the site for lectures, when really it was I who was thanking him for his company. I was mesmerized by his stories and I count myself as one of the lucky few to have met this true gentleman.

To George's family, may you find peace and solace in the fact that George was well loved and that he is now in a better place. God bless.
Captain Ruby Brydges Base Comptroller CFB Shilo
November 23, 2006
I was proud to be George's editor at McClelland & Stewart. I admired and respected him enormously, and the abiding love he felt for Grace was deeply touching. He was the most thoroughly honorable and genuinely modest author I have worked with, despite the highly deserved praise and recognition that came his way. Though we didn't get together or talk so much in the last couple of years, I will nonetheless miss him terribly. My deepest sympathy to Mark, Ron, Andrea and the rest of his family.
Alex Schultz
November 21, 2006
To Mark, Ron and Andrea Blackburn...I offer my deepest sympathy on the passing of a great Canadian hero and icon, your father. I had the privledge to meet George, son Mark and his wife Irene and also Clarence Tilenius at the Amber Meadow retirement home. The "Guns of Normandy" and the "Guns of war" written by George...was the best of the very best! I have read other writers books, and there was no comparision. In reference to other writers, Georges events were very accurate and graffic. I relived the war while reading his two books! The hair on the nape of my neck stood up many times! I myself served as an infantry rifleman, nine months front line action, "Carpiquet airfield France to Emmerich Germany, prisioner of war. Last forty days-taken March 30, 1945. We depended on the artillery in many instances. They would repel counter attacks by the Jerries and assisted on taking objectives. George's book should be used to teach our students so that the great and horrible price of lives is not forgotten. Rest in peace, it was an honour and privilege to know you. RFN John Stoyka. Royal Winnipeg Rifles. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
John Stoyka
November 21, 2006
Dear Family

My friend Glenn Warner told me that Mr. George Blackburn has passed away at 90 years old.
I met Mr. Blackburn on May 7th, 2005 in Groesbeek, The Netherlands and I heard him speak.
I believe he was a wise man.
I would like the Blackburn-family all the best to cope with these hard times.

Yours sincerely.
Gerard Nijmeijer
November 19, 2006
Dearest Friends Who Have Signed - and continue to sign - this Guest Book,

My name is Kim, and I'm George's eldest Grandaughter. I want to sincerely thank each of you for your precious and kind comments.

I've just returned home to the Toronto area and was only able to access this site for the first time tonight. The outpouring of appreciation from people across the country, including each of you in this Guest Book, has made a very difficult week also very touching.

I will be sending a response to each of you personally, as may other members of our family, to thank you for taking the time to acknowledge my grandfather's death along with the impact he had on each of you, in many wonderful and different ways, during the course of his life.

On behalf of the entire Blackburn Family, please accept my sincere thanks for your heartfelt sympathy.

Very sincerely,

Kim
Kim Taylor-Galway
November 19, 2006
Though I, myself, could not serve as a soldier, having lost my right arm in a construction accident in 1936, George and his beautiful wife Grace and his sons and daughters became friends. Through George’s three books I learned the fates of many of the soldiers whose lives and stories were lost in that great war against Hitler’s forces.

Over the years many of my friends told me that today’s military training includes George’s three books as required reading.

George Blackburn was surely a great man and a great force and the world will be much the poorer without him. But he left behind a great legacy, of which his books on the war, I think, would be informative reading for all young people of today.

George, it was an honour to have you as a part of my life and to have you share your reminiscences with me.
Clarence Tillenius
November 19, 2006
Ron - your father was a great man, our condolences......
Jane Pelton
November 18, 2006
November 18, 2006
Dear Family,

First I wil give you my condolence for the loss of your father and grandfather.
I met Mr Blackburn mei 4 2005 at the Rozenhof in Almen. In this house he dit his verry good job as observation officer together with Mr. Mell Squisato, near the Twente Canal in Holland and he became his Military Cross after this battle. After I met him he send me his book The Guns of Victorywith his signature.
He was one of the much soldiers who risk their live so we can live in peace now.
Reinald Tieben
November 18, 2006
Just weeks ago I had the pleasure of a visit from George, along with his son, Mark, daughter-in-law, Irene and two dear, mutual friends. The highlight of the afternoon came after lunch when George sat at the piano and entertained us for over half an hour, playing wonderful music from the 40's. (He loved Gershwin.) He will be extolled for his many accomplishments both in the military and as a civilian but I will always remember him for his music. Play on, George!
Grace Malloy
November 18, 2006
Dear Family,

The one and only time I met Mr. Blackburn was in Groesbeek at the Canadian Cemetery where, although extremely busy and surrounded by friends, he found the time to listen patiently while I told him how important his books are to me.

Please know that because of his writing and his leadership in the Canadian Battlefields Foundation, young people like myself understand the sacrifices required by his generation for Canadian freedom.

He touched my life in a small but profoundly meaningful way.

With prayers,

Mackenzie Brooks
Mackenzie Brooks
November 17, 2006
To Andrea, Mark and Ron Blackburn,

My wife Doris and I offer our deepest sympathy in the passing of a dear comrade, without peer, and a revered friend.

I am proud to have served under George in the Rhineland and into northern Holland.

He inspired loyalty through his thoughtfulness and kind spirit which I experienced to the ultimate degree.

Much later, after the war, George became a great friend of mine. He and his wife were the most gracious hosts during my many visits to Ottawa. The visits to their home being the highlights our trips.

I will forever remember the last half-bottle of Calvados that never seemed to diminish through the years.

George was a Canadian icon, a war hero and later, among many other accomplishments, wrote the trilogy that immortalized the role of Canada in the Second World War - particularily that of the Royal Canadian Artillery. These books are now, and shall always be destined to be, the greatest historical accounts of the Canadian was efforts in Western Europe.

UBIQUE
Mel Squissato
Melvino Squissato
November 17, 2006
George Blackburn, Canadian Author and War Hero, Edna Staebler, Author and Community Leader, and Janet Berton, Wife of Author and Historian Pierre Berton at Edna’s 100th Birthday Party, Waterloo, Ontario, January 15th 2006.
George, you leave an amazing legacy for all Canadians. Author, hero, father, mentor, journalist, composer, playwright, Order of Canada recipient and so many additional accomplishments. You never ceased to amaze us even as recently as a few weeks ago in October when you surprised us all by travelling across the province on several trains to attend the memorial tribute to Edna Staebler here in Waterloo.

It was the second time in less than a year that you had made this journey and we all enjoyed your presence, your interest in everything, your lively stories, and piano playing. It was an honour to have yourself along with several other award-winning authors and Order of Canada recipients present.

The George Blackburn Scholarship in Canadian History, which is awarded annually at Wilfrid Laurier University, will hopefully help to encourage future generations to learn our military history and remember the outstanding service that you and many others provided to our country.

Rest in peace. It was an honour and privilege to know you.

Kevin Thomason.
Kevin Thomason
November 17, 2006
George, kis wartime vehicle, and calvados -Shilo, Oct 06
November 17, 2006
With Michael Pare as Aide-de-camp and navigator, I served as George's batman and driver throughout our pilgrimage to the 60th Anniversary in Holland in 2005. It was a highlight of my life. I shall forever treasure our six years of friendship.
Peter Peart
November 17, 2006
As a journalist, I covered the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland in May 2005 and spoke with George at the Groesbeek windmill where a plaque had been installed in his honour. He had used the windmill as a forward observation post during the Second World War. With him at the windmill was his former comrade in arms, Mel Squissato of Ancaster. George had ordered Mel to leave him one night when the windmill was under enemy fire but Mel refused. When I asked him why, Mel replied, with tears in his eyes: "You don't leave a man like that to die alone." Needless to say, they both survived and were close friends from then on.
Tom Douglas
November 17, 2006
The passing of George Blackburn is a loss to all Gunners. He was a great inspiration to not only Gunners in Canada but Gunners around the world Harry and Sylvia Rice
Harry and Sylvia Rice
November 17, 2006
George and Mel at the Twente Canal, May 2005
I first came to know George through his books, and consider it a privilege to have become part of his wide circle of friends. I will always treasure the opportunity I had last year to accompany George, his old signaller Mel Squissato and driver Andy Turner through Holland and France as they recalled the momentous events of 60 years earlier. We will miss him greatly.
Michael Paré
November 17, 2006
Alas, the communion of Vic Martin, Rock Malloy and George Blackburn. George was an integral part of my fathers life and for that, I am grateful.
David Malloy
November 17, 2006
I first met George when he responded to a letter I wrote him praising the first book of his gunner trilogy. Since then, whenever I met him, I was struck the kindness and good humour of this true gentleman. I last saw him in Groesbeek at the Cdn War Cemetery where he was an honoured guest of the Dutch people. I am very sorry my duties here in Africa will prevent me from attending the celebration of his remarkable life. Ubique
LCol David Patterson, Comd Cdn Contingent Addis Ababa
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