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The Juno Beach Centre
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The Juno Beach Centre Association (JBCA) is a Canadian non-profit charitable corporation that is governed by a Board of Directors based in Burlington (Ontario), Canada. The JBCA owns and operates the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France.

The core purpose of the JBCA is to:

  • Provide a tangible and fitting memorial to Canada’s participation in the Second World War and recognize the emergence of Canada on the world scene;
  • Remember and commemorate the sacrifices made by all Canadians who were part of the Allied victory in all theatres of war and at home; and
  • Educate adults and children of today and future generations about the role of Canada in preserving the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy today.

Learn more about the history of the Juno Beach Centre Association and our Founder and First President, Garth Webb, below.


Directors and Supporters

The Juno Beach Centre Association (JBCA) is a Canadian non-profit charitable corporation that is governed by a Board of Directors based in Burlington (Ontario), Canada.

The JBCA owns and operates the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France.

  • President – Don Cooper, RMC Graduate, son of a D-Day Veteran, Burlington, ON
  • Vice-President – Peter Moffatt, Partner, Gardiner Roberts LLP, Toronto, ON
  • Treasurer – Lise Cooper, Widow of a D-Day Veteran, Burlington, ON
  • Director – LCol (Ret’d) John Fotheringham, former Commanding Officer, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Toronto, ON
  • Director – Randy Gerrie, Senior Vice President, Sears Canada
  • Director – Susan (Cooper) Mousseau, daughter of a D-Day Veteran, Plattsburgh, NY
  • Director – BGen (Ret’d) Ernest Beno, OMM, CD, former Colonel Commandant, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, Kingston, ON
  • Director (Ex-officio) – LGen Walter Semianiw, Assistant Deputy Minister of Policy, Communications and Commemoration, Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Associate Director – Pam Calvert, History Teacher & Education Consultant of the JBCA in Canada, Burlington, ON
  • Associate Director – Darryl Casselman, serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces – Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, Burlington, ON
  • Associate Director – LCol (Ret’d) Peter Dawe, son of a Second World War Veteran, Kingston, ON
  • Associate Director – Sandra Rogers, History Teacher at Garth Webb Secondary School / JBCA Liaison, Burlington, ON
  • Associate Director – James Simpson, RMC Graduate, son of a Second World War RCAF Fighter Pilot & retired RCAF Officer, Schomberg, ON
  • Executive Manager – Jenna Zuschlag Misener, granddaughter of two Second World War Veterans, Toronto, ON

L’Association Centre Juno Beach in France:

  • President – John Clemes, Paris, France
  • Ian McLean, Paris, France

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Staff Members

Our team in Courseulles-sur-Mer:

The Centre in Normandy, France is staffed by a team of five permanent employees, in addition to a group of young Canadian guides for peak seasonal peak periods.

Our team in Canada:

Juno Beach Centre Association – Burlington, Ontario

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Founder and Past President

Known as the founder of the Juno Beach Centre, today Garth S. Webb represents the Canadian Second World War veterans and their families who have been the driving force behind the creation of the Juno Beach Centre. They had the vision and perseverance to create the memorial they longed for and to proudly pass the torch to the younger generations. Led by Garth Webb, they left their mark on the identity of the Juno Beach Centre.

Born in Midland, Ontario, Garth Webb spent his youth in Calgary, Alberta. In 1942, he joined the Royal Canadian Artillery serving in “C” Troop of the 14th Field Regiment.

On the morning of June 6, 1944, Lieutenant Garth Webb landed on Juno Beach in Normandy with the Canadian 14th Field, as part of the Allied forces. Despite experiencing significant losses on D-Day, his unit continued their advance over the months that followed though Northwestern Europe and eventually Germany in 1945.

After the war, Garth Webb returned to Canada and resumed his studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Upon graduation, he embarked on a successful career as a real estate broker and appraiser.

In June 1994, for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, he returned to the beaches of Normandy with many of the veterans from his unit. It was at this point that they realized there was not very much present for their children and grandchildren to see in commemoration of the Canadian involvement in the Second World War.

As a result, Garth Webb and his partner Lise Cooper spearheaded an initiative of Canadian Second World War veterans, widows and children of veterans to create and establish the Juno Beach Centre.

Garth Webb and the Juno Beach Centre Association (JBCA) dedicated themselves to promoting this cause and fundraised to build the Centre on land made available by the Town of Courseulles-sur-Mer thanks to former Mayor, Jean-Louis de Mourgues. On June 6, 2003, surrounded by hundreds of Canadian veterans and dignitaries, they celebrated the official opening and unveiling of this amazing accomplishment – a lasting tribute to the efforts and sacrifices of all Canadians during the Second World War.

After the opening of the Centre, Garth Webb continued to serve on the Board of Directors as President of the JBCA in Canada. Until his passing on May 8, 2012, Garth Webb worked tirelessly for the Juno Beach Centre.

In addition to his many commendations and military medals from the Second World War, Garth Webb was also the recipient of the Meritorious Service Cross. It was presented to him in 2003 by the Governor General of Canada for his part in the creation of the Juno Beach Centre. This prestigious award recognizes a deed or an activity that has been performed in an outstandingly professional manner, or with uncommonly high standards; the activity is often innovative, sets an example for others to follow, improves the quality of life of a community and brings considerable benefit or honour to Canada.

Garth Webb was also honoured by the French government in 2005 with the Legion of Honour medal. The National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest decoration in France. Membership in the Legion of Honour is usually restricted to French nationals. Foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds, as Garth Webb has, sometimes receive the Legion of Honour.

Garth S. Webb (1918-2012), Meritorious Service Cross, Legion of Honour (France) and D-Day Veteran

Garth Webb's Obituary - May 2012

Tribute to Garth Webb by Ted Barris

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History of the Juno Beach Centre

GENESIS

June 1994 was the 50th anniversary of D-Day and a trip was organized for the men of the 14th Field Regiment (Royal Canadian Artillery) to retrace the route travelled through France, Belgium and Holland by their regiment some fifty years earlier. After taking part in this trip, veterans of the 14th Field Regiment suggested that a trip to Normandy be planned the following year for their children and grandchildren. They wondered what they would be able to show their families aside from the beach with tourists, streets named after Canadians and the markers, monuments and cemeteries.

From this trip was born the idea of building a Canadian museum and the hard work began. The organizer of this trip and the constant driving force was none other than the creator of the Juno Beach Centre, Garth Webb, M.S.C.

An immense fundraising campaign was undertaken in Canada to secure funds to build the Juno Beach Centre. The commemorative brick campaign was created and thanks to donations from thousands of private Canadian citizens, corporations such as Walmart Canada and many levels of government the Juno Beach Centre was underway. After years of fundraising, construction began on 1.5 hectares made available by the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer and on June 6, 2003 D-Day Veteran Garth Webb saying “This is the beach where Canadian soldiers stormed ashore 59 years ago”, officially opened the Juno Beach Centre.

Mr. Webb passed away on May 8, 2012 after almost 20 years of fundraising, construction and overseeing of the operation of the completed Centre. Don Cooper is the new President of the Juno Beach Centre Association in Canada, a non-profit organization based in Burlington, Ontario, which operates the Juno Beach Centre.

Today, the Juno Beach Centre is what the veterans wanted it to be: a place of education providing a better understanding of the contribution Canada made during the Second World War. At the same time, by showcasing today’s Canada, it is a place where visitors from all around the world learn more about Canadian values and culture. In this respect, the Centre stands as both the Canadian Second World War Memorial and Education Centre in Europe and as a testament to the Veterans who helped build it. The Minister of Canadian Heritage has designated Juno Beach as a site of national historic significance to Canada.

A MISSION OF EDUCATION AND GUEST SERVICES

Since its inauguration on June 6, 2003, the Juno Beach Centre has been a dynamic museum through its guides program, the guided beach tours it offers visitors, the variety of temporary exhibits it presents, and through its evolving educational program.

The excellence of the Juno Beach Centre’s facilities and services were acknowledged when the museum was awarded the “Label Normandie Qualité Tourisme” in December 2005. In May 2010, the Centre was one of the first museums to be awarded the “Marque Qualité Tourisme France”.

Guide Program

The Canadian Guide Program is an initiative that the Juno Beach Centre is proud to offer. Young bilingual Canadian university students come to the Centre in France to work for one of three different periods throughout the year. These guides are responsible for welcoming visitors, giving historical tours of the beach, presenting exhibits, and providing information to visitors. They help to make each visit a positive and educational experience for every visitor, as well as help give the Juno Beach Centre its distinctive Canadian flavour in France. For 10 years, some 100 young Canadians have crossed the Atlantic to work at the Juno Beach Centre. Some have even decided to stay in Europe, while others returned to Canada to become teachers, managers, lawyers, civil servants, politicians… and contribute to making the Canada their forefathers fought for.

Guided Tours of Juno Park

The guided tours – given by the JBC guides – officially began in 2004. They are available in French or English almost year round. In 2007, a bilingual version of the beach tour was created to ensure that they were available to the public from April to the end of October.

Since the guided tours are held in Juno Park, efforts have been made throughout the years to enrich the visit which starts near the very popular statue named “Remembrance and Renewal”. In the “Year of the Veteran” (2005) an Aboriginal Spiritual Journey was organised to enable Native youth and veterans to travel to Europe and to pay tribute to Aboriginal veterans of both world wars. It is in this context that the Inuksuk in front of the museum was adapted to commemorate the sacrifices of the First Peoples of Canada during both wars. In September 2008, two tetrahedra (German beach defences) arrived in Juno Park. In 2009, the Royal Canadian Navy Monument was unveiled and the possibility of going inside a German observation bunker was included in the guided beach tours. In May 2010, this bunker was partially restored and artefacts such as an original door, stove, and beds were added. Later that year, a 25-pounder gun arrived in Juno Park, followed in 2011 by a Bofor gun. Also in 2011, works on the terrace in front of the museum was completed.

29 Temporary Exhibits

The Juno Beach Centre presents the war effort made by all Canadians, civilian and military alike, both at home and on the various fronts during the Second World War, as well as the manifold faces of contemporary Canadian society. This dual role of showcasing both history and culture has been achieved though alternating temporary exhibits that cater to the interests of both Canadian and European visitors.

In 2003, the first temporary exhibit “Siqiniq – Under the Same Sun” focused on Inuit art & culture. It was followed in 2004 – the 60th anniversary of D-Day – by a temporary exhibit of Canadian military artefacts from D-Day & Battle of Normandy.

2005 marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, it was designated as the “Year of the Veteran” in Canada. In this context, a temporary exhibit entitled “Voices of the First Peoples of Canada” wasconceived in collaboration with the Curve Lake Reserve in Ontario to present the culture of Canada’s First Nations. This exhibit helped visitors to discover what became of the culture of these aboriginal veterans by understanding some of their traditions and how they were adapted in the 21st century. It was followed in 2006 by a temporary exhibit about the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. Due to the popularity of the “Voices of the First Peoples of Canada” exhibit with the European public, it returned in 2007, enriched by a Second World War component, as well as more activities for elementary level students and young families.

In 2008, which marked the 65th anniversary of the landings in Sicily, a temporary exhibit entitled “The Canadians in Italy” was developed to honour those who served in the Italian Campaign, a lesser known part of Canada’s war. In 2009, the “Voices of the First Peoples of Canada” exhibit was further expanded to include a large component on Métis culture, through which themes such as multiculturalism and environmental issues were discussed. It was followed at the end of 2010 by a temporary exhibit entitled “Allies: Canadians and British during the Second World War” which presented how the Canadians and British fought side-by-side during major events of the Second World War. With the use of “passports/ID cards”, visitors could discover the exhibit’s content through the portraits of soldiers, sailors, airmen teams as well as Canadian and British civilians and discover how the story unfolded for these brothers in arms. Due to the immense popularity of this exhibit and its “passport/ID cards” concept, it was extended until the end of 2013.

In 2014, a new temporary exhibit entitled “Grandma, What Was it Like During the War? Life for Normans and Canadians from occupation to Liberation” is being presented. This exhibit, conceived and created by the Juno Beach Centre especially for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, tells the story of Norman and Canadian civilians (specifically children) from 1940 to 1944. It answers the questions: “What would my everyday life have been like if I was a kid living in Normandy in 1944, like my great grandparents?”; “Who did the Canadians liberate when they landed in Normandy?”; “Who were the occupiers?”. Children will be enlightened as to what their great-grandparents endured during the war, as well as the meaning of “Liberation”.

Throughout the years, a number of more modest temporary exhibits have also been presented in the main hall of the museum. They include: a photography exhibit of Juno Beach by Oliver Mériel (2004); a photography exhibit of William Lyon Mackenzie King’s visit to France in August 1946 (2006); Private Harry “Jim” Bardsley’s War Time Sketches (2007); “There and Back” a tribute to 12 Quebec veterans with Norman origins who came to liberate Normandy in 1944 (2008); “Veterans’ Voices” commemorating the 65th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy through 12 Portraits of Canadian Veterans (2009); A tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Navy (2010); A tribute to the 70th anniversary of the WRENS (2012) and; “A Reflection on the past 10 years of the Juno Beach Centre” (2013).

Educational Program

As Canada’s only Second World War Memorial and Education Centre in France, the Juno Beach Centre prides itself on its dynamic and innovative educational program. Student workbooks were developed in 2004 and updated in 2008 to assist both elementary and high school students in their visit of the permanent exhibit of the museum. In 2012, they  were replaced by a new “Juno Quiz” for elementary (7-11 years old) and high school (11 years +) students.

To help families with young children focus on the child-friendly content of the museum via two virtual guides “Peter & Madeleine”, a “Family Quiz” was introduced in 2004. In 2013, a new version of this “Family Quiz” will foster intergenerational visits.

In 2004-2005, guided beach tours were adapted for school groups. In 2006-2007 special introductions to the site were developed. They enable JBC guides to give both adult and school groups who do not follow a guided beach tour some historical content before visiting the museum.

In 2005 a living history presentation entitled “Mario the D-Day Soldier” was developed. The offer was enriched in 2007 with a second presentation entitled “Jeanne the D-Day Nurse”. Since 2011, these presentations have been constantly improved and are now entitled “A Canadian on D-Day”.

Because these educational activities are aimed at school groups aged 7-11 years old, in 2009 the “History on Wheels” presentation was developed for students aged 11 years +. In 2011, the “History on Wheels” presentation, until then only available to school groups, was adapted for the general public. Animated by the guides, this lively educational presentation runs regularly in low-season in the permanent exhibit.

In 2014, the presentation entitled “A Canadian on D-Day” is taking a break. It will be temporarily replaced by a new educational activity aimed at school groups aged 7-11 years old entitled “History at Your Fingertips”. In the context of the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, this new educational activity is directly linked to the new temporary exhibit “Grandma, what was it like during the War?”.

Professional Development Program for Educators

Shortly after the creation of the Juno Beach Centre, the Juno Beach Centre Association (JBCA) wanted a way to reach out to Canadian educators and give them added motivation to continue teaching the history of the Second World War and Remembrance in their classes. The idea of a 10 day tour of the battlefields in France was a natural extension of the educational and memorial mission of the Juno Beach Centre. We believe that by taking part in this tour, every participant returns to Canada and their classroom with a new emotional understanding and connection to the sacrifice of our soldiers during the Second World War which they will continue to share with their students for years to come.

In 2005, the first of these annual tours took place. It has run every year since and over 300 educators from across the country have taken part. Participants are chosen from applications submitted from across Canada. In choosing the successful applicants, the JBCA selects based on the motivational letter and from as wide a geographical portion of Canada as possible. Each year the tour is accompanied by an accomplished Canadian historian who provides in depth historical content. Our historian’s expertise and historical perspectives provide informative and practical knowledge that the educators can then use in their classrooms.

By offering this annual Professional Development Tour, the Juno Beach Centre is able to create a bond with all the participants and ensure that, when they return to their school, they have a new found understanding for the importance of remembrance and will be much more effective educators. Many of our tour participants return to France with their own school groups. The emotional impact the tour has on its participants can be seen in this quote:

“The JBC Educator’s Trip provided me with an unforgettable opportunity to learn about the Second World War. No other life experience can compare to walking the battlefields of Normandy or standing in the hauntingly silent cemeteries amongst the soldiers. Nothing has been so meaningful and moving in my years of teaching. I returned home with a renewed sense of appreciation and a deeper understanding which I could share with my students.” – Carolynne LeBlanc Kobelsky, 2008 Tour

Permanent Displays and Services

Over the years, improvements have been made to the permanent exhibit rooms to ensure that both the general public and school groups get as much as possible out of their visit. A few examples include: adding new display cases, including one with a mannequin; giving a ‘face’ to some of the artefacts that are on display by associating them with a picture of the person they belonged to; adding “discovery-drawers” about the various ranks of the Army, Navy and Air Force and also personal stories of Canadians during the war.

In 2012, the boutique of the Juno Beach Centre underwent major improvements. It was revitalised and enhanced thanks to a new layout: new shelving and display racks for books and t-shirts, a new set-up for the souvenir aisle and new signage. The overall ambiance has also been enhanced by additional lighting, photographic back-lights and a more spacious ticket and check-out counter. The Juno Beach Centre boutique offers a variety of souvenirs, Canadian and Norman specialities, as well as a large selection of books, DVDs, maps and other media on the history of the Second World War and Canadian culture.

OVER 10 YEARS OF WELCOMING VISITORS AND ANIMATIONS

For the past 10 years (2003-2013), the Juno Beach Centre has welcomed approximately 525,000 visitors, including 152,000 Canadians. 76,000 were pupils and students in groups (1 visitor out of 7) and 87,200 people followed a guided tour of Juno Park (1 visitor out of 6).

Canadian visitors represented on average 31% per year, French visitors 33%, British visitors 12% and Dutch visitors 7%.

Welcoming veterans is always an exceptional moment for the staff of the Juno Beach Centre. Since its opening, the Centre has organized 38 commemorative ceremonies, attended by hundreds of locals and visitors. Canadian politicians, diplomats and senior public servants have also regularly visited the museum or attended ceremonies.

From the start, a program of cultural events has animated the Juno Beach Centre all year round to attract as many visitors as possible. To date, this represents 20 conferences and film presentations; 33 concerts and shows; 95 animations or workshops for children on the themes of the temporary exhibits, history and Canadian culture including Christmas, Halloween and Canada Day. These were attended by some 16,000 children from or on holidays in the Courseulles area.

2013, AN IMPORTANT MILESTONE

Naming the Esplanade and a New Lobby

In 2013 a signage improvement project was carried out outside the museum, including a new panel giving the Esplanade the name of Garth Webb. As a logical extension inside, the main lobby of the Juno Beach Centre was renovated in order to keep-up with the evolution throughout its 10 years of existence, affirm its identity and better greet visitors.

Two new stations were created in the centre of the lobby. One provides practical information to visitors such as the content and offer of the museum, its youth circuit and the guided visits of Juno Park. The other informs visitors of the history of the museum itself, created by veterans and their families who left their everlasting mark on the identity of this place. Tribute is paid to Garth Webb, Canadian Second World War veteran and founder of the museum.

A New Cinema

One of the premiere events of the 10th anniversary of the Juno Beach Centre was the construction and opening of our new movie theatre on June 6th, 2013. This new space was a major undertaking and we were extremely pleased with the final result. The new cinema holds up to 62 people per show and we were extremely proud to open it with the premiere of a new film, entitled “They Walk With You”, an immersion in the Canadian Experience on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.

The new film “They Walk With You”, produced exclusively for the Juno Beach Centre by Marianne Kushmaniuk and directed by Harvey Crossland, was a major part of marking the 10th anniversary of the Juno Beach Centre.

An immersive experience using powerful video and emotionally engaging audio (including the voices of the Canadian war correspondents Marcel Ouimet and Matthew Halton), “They Walk With You” employs Second World War newsreel footage from a variety of sources and, along with dramatic recreations, re-enacts the role and sacrifice of Canadian infantry soldiers during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. An infantry soldier in war is often not privy to the “big picture”; his job is to fight and try to survive. This new film immerses the audience in an infantry soldier’s experience.

After viewing it, visitors who take part in a guided tour of the beach, with one of the Juno Beach Centre’s guides, will have a new appreciation for the events that happened on D-Day and the historical importance of the site on which they are walking.

Bunker Archeology in Juno Park

The Juno Beach Centre emphasized D-Day by embarking on a new project: “contemporary archaeology”.  Juno Park, a public space of the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer, holds many remnants of the war that are disappearing under the sand as the years go by. In the coming years, the Juno Beach Centre will be working on excavating underground galleries in Juno Park in order to include them in the guided beach tour. The starting point of this endeavour was showcased in a 2011 BBC documentary program called “Dig WWII”.

In collaboration with the town, the Juno Beach Centre organised 6 excavation work sites to rehabilitate the German tunnels. In 2012 and 2013, teams of volunteers have cleared approximately 20 tons of sand. The physical traces left by the occupation, the construction of the Atlantic Wall and the D-Day landings are a common heritage that must be safeguarded. These tunnels were made accessible to the public in April 2014, in time for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

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