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Two Fallen Heroes Honored at Paint Lake

A beautiful ceremony was held on June 27 at Paint Lake to honor the lives of two fallen soldiers, Oliver and Edmond Garand. The event was organized by the Garand family.

A beautiful ceremony was held on June 27 at Paint Lake to honor the lives of two fallen soldiers, Oliver and Edmond Garand. The event was organized by the Garand family. the exquisitely engraved stones will be placed at a later date by the parks board on Garand Island and Garand Peninsula as a tribute to the two brave men.


The Island was named after Oliver and the Peninsula after Edmond, commemorating their sacrifices during times of conflict. The ceremony was attended by representatives from the Legion, highlighting the significance of the occasion.


The Garand family's history of service and sacrifice was poignantly relayed, with eight out of nine brothers having been enlisted soldiers. Tragically, Oliver and Edmond were among the fallen.


“They named lakes and islands after these fallen soldiers,” Said Carol Harrington, coordinator and beloved member of the family, “and I think that was my ultimate goal, that there’s an island in the middle of the lake, certainly nobody knows the name of the island. Even if they had a map of the lakes and knew the names of the islands they don’t understand the meaning behind why it’s called Garand Island. So that’s why I really wanted to have these stones made and placed on the Island and Peninsula respectively”


In 1927, a devastating fire ravaged the Garand home in Dunrea, Manitoba, leaving chaos and panic in its wake. Amidst the frenzy of the evacuation, a one-month-old baby was inadvertently left behind. It was a young and courageous 12-year-old boy, Oliver Garand, who fearlessly rushed back into the engulfed house to rescue the helpless infant.


Little did anyone realize that the life he rescued would one day be Harrington’s mother. This remarkable act of bravery etched Oliver's name in the annals of heroism, a deed that would reverberate through generations to come. His selfless act instilled a profound sense of gratitude in the heart of the rescued baby, who was destined to grow up knowing that her hero was always close by.


However, tragedy struck at the tender age of 14 when she lost the very hero who had saved her. On October 15, 1941, Oliver's life was tragically cut short when his ship, the SS Vancouver Island, was torpedoed in the North Atlantic, south of Iceland. The merciless sea claimed the lives of all onboard, leaving behind cherished memories and a legacy of valor.


Despite the heartbreaking loss, the memory of Oliver Garand endures. An emblem of strength and honor, he was remembered by his loved ones as a man among men, renowned for his unbeatable prowess in arm wrestling. Though laid to rest at sea, his gallantry is memorialized at the Halifax Memorial, Panel 18, serving as a testament to his unwavering courage and sacrifice.


In a poignant tribute to his legacy, Garand Island was dedicated in honor of Engineer Oliver Garand of the Canadian Merchant Navy in 1995. A fitting homage to a true hero whose selflessness and valor continue to inspire and uplift hearts, embodying the essence of heroism for generations to come.


Edmond Garand, affectionately known as Edmond or "Eddy," was just 21 years old and had recently married his sweetheart, Irene Berney, before he was tragically killed in action during the Korean War in 1951. His untimely passing left a young widow to mourn his loss, and the Garand family has cherished memories of Edmond, including rare photographs capturing special moments from nearly 90 years ago.


“I have been very moved by the fact that Edmond who died in the Korean War was just 21 when he died” Harrington concluded, “Prior to enlisting he got married to this sweetheart named Irene Gladys Berney. Now that’s my personal thing, where here’s the 21-year-old guy in love with this young woman, and I think that poor woman. She got married to this guy that is obviously her sweetheart before he left, and then he passed. I often wonder how she managed”


The Garand family's remarkable contribution to the nation's defense is truly exemplary. Of the 15 siblings in the Garand family, 8 of the nine young men demonstrated incredible bravery by enlisting to serve their country. This inspiring legacy of service and sacrifice is a testament to the indomitable spirit and selflessness of the Garand brothers, who are recognized as heroes of the "greatest generation."


The placement of the commemorative stones was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Manitoba Parks Board and the Garand family, who extend their heartfelt gratitude to Richard Dean and Jordan Beil for their generous assistance in preserving this enduring tribute.


The Garand family's initiative to honor the memory of Edmond and Oliver Garand reflects a profound dedication to preserving the legacy of their beloved brothers and acknowledging the profound impact of their heroic deeds. The commemorative stones on Garand Island and Garand Peninsula will stand as enduring reminders of the Garand brothers' bravery and selfless sacrifice, ensuring that their legacy lives on for generations to come.

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