Bart Armstrong with his display at the Royal B.C. Museum honouring veterans. Armstrong has been researching Canadian recipients of the American Medal of Honor uncovering the stories of some 50 Canadian men who were not previously recognized.

Bart Armstrong with his display at the Royal B.C. Museum honouring veterans. Armstrong has been researching Canadian recipients of the American Medal of Honor uncovering the stories of some 50 Canadian men who were not previously recognized.

Military historian uncovers Canadian recipients of U.S. Medal of Honor

Saanich resident instrumental in uncovering stories of 50 Canadians awarded highest honour in the U.S. military.

They might not have been Canada’s fights but some of the Canadians who chose to take up arms became some of the most distinguished soldiers on the battlefield.

Of the 10,312 soldiers buried in the U.S. Civil War cemetery at Marietta, Georgia, only two received the highest American award for bravery in the face of the enemy. One of the men to receive the Medal of Honor was Denis Buckley, a Canadian.

Buried under the wrong name for 140 years, Buckley is one of 104 known Canadians who have earned the medal. Bart Armstrong, a Saanich resident and the only Canadian member of the Medal of Honor Historical Society, was instrumental in uncovering Buckley’s story and that of some 50 other Canadians who were awarded the highest honour in the U.S. military.

For the second year in a row, the 62-year-old Armstrong is hosting an information booth at the Royal B.C. Museum to educate visitors on the Canadian recipients of the medal.

“About 95 per cent of the time, the people who I’m talking to don’t have a clue what I’m talking about,” said Armstrong, who served 17 years in the Canadian Forces and retired as a Master Warrant Officer.

“In the United States, unfortunately, they don’t go out of their way to say ‘Hey, there are a lot of other countries who have helped us as well.’”

The trend of Canadians fighting for the U.S. dates back to the 1860s – prior to Canada’s official confederation – when American men from along the eastern seaboard often relocated to Canada during the war. When their children grew up, some would go back across the border to fight for the U.S.

“In lots of the regiments where our guys were, they earned the only medal in that regiment. It’s kinda neat to say that a Canadian did that.”

Armstrong, also the past president of the Victoria Genealogical Society, has findings from his research stacked up around his Saanich home – referred to as the satellite office by his American colleagues in the Medal of Honor Historical Society. For 11 years he has uncovered photos, records and family histories of otherwise unrecognized Canadian war heroes. Among them is Douglas Munro, the only member of the U.S. Coast Guard to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Armstrong has been recognized by the Canadian government for his work, which he hopes to one day publish. Until then, he continues to honour Canadian Medal of Honor recipients with memorial ceremonies, while educating all those interested on both sides of the border. While sharing their history can make some American’s “edgy,” Armstrong said, most are open to learning more about people from other nation’s who played significant roles.

“The purpose of the conversation isn’t to insult (American forces), actually, it’s complimenting (them), by showing how much (they’re) willing to open (their) arms to others.”

Armstrong’s booth is on display at the Royal B.C. Museum from Nov. 7-11 and will be open to the public free of charge.

Canadian leaves legacy in American Coast Guard

Douglas Munro was born to American parents in Vancouver before his father’s railway work saw the family relocated to Washington State. Munro lived most of his life in the United States where he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and became a signalman. During the Guadalcanal Campaign of the Second World War, Munro led a detachment of boats in transporting 500 marines ashore. Soon after Munro landed the marines, the troops were driven back into the ocean.

Under his direction, the coast guard vessels successfully evacuated the men – until the last boat of marines was caught in a drift. Munro lodged his own boat between the marines and enemy lines. He was killed in the crossfire and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read