By Terry Hughes
For security reasons meetings and operations about the war were not for public knowledge. Certainly, this was true with FDR and Churchill. The reasons for face to face meetings were rooted in discussions that yielded good results. This fact would often precede public meetings like the Quebec Conference held on Canadian soil later that year.
Roosevelt was not a stranger to Canada as the family maintained a summer residence in Campobello, New Brunswick. It was here that he lost the use of his legs. He enjoyed the outdoors and was willing to consider a visitation to the Bruce Peninsula where it offered abundant fishing opportunities. But the real reason is that it offered a meeting with Churchill on the “q.t.”
In order to reach this area of Ontario would require an extensive train trip from Washington via the New York Central, the Toronto Hamilton and Buffalo and Canadian Pacific railways. His train would have to pass through here from Buffalo to connections with the C.P. R. at Hamilton. He would return to the U.S. in the same way. It was not uncommon for passenger trains with blacked out windows passing through here quite often so this “presidential special” would pass by unnoticed .
During the early years of the war, the Royal Navy would host the prime minister for meetings in North America. After reaching Canada he would go by train to his meeting with Roosevelt. Having set an agenda for the Quebec Conference, they returned to different destinations and in the case of Churchill his whereabouts appeared in local newspapers when his train stopped in Niagara Falls for him to do some sightseeing.
While his daughter checked out the falls and collected postcards for the folks back home, Churchill decided to visit Brock’s Monument. The prime minister was a student of military warfare and was intrigued with the Battle of Queenston Heights. According to press accounts he respected the heroics of Brock, but he could not understand why Gen. Sheaffe, who retook Queenston Heights along with Indian allies, from Americans did not get significantly more recognition! .
Believe it or not this story was initiated when a former railway employee brandished a cigar band from the type of cigar that Churchill smoked! It was just a matter of joining the dots after researching a number of published news accounts to write this story.
Note: The images of FDR and Churchill are from The Best of Life.
Next Column: Favourite Rides At Crystal Beach.
(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)