About Us

The Juno Beach Centre

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 L. Moffatt, grandson of a Second World War Veteran, son of retired CAF LCol, Burlington ON
  • Treasurer – 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 – Pam Calvert, History Teacher & Education Consultant of the JBCA in Canada, Burlington, ON
  • Director – Mark Clearihue, son of a Second World War Veteran, Mississauga, ON
  • Director – Lise Cooper, Widow of a D-Day Veteran, Burlington, ON
  • Director – LCol (Ret’d) Peter Dawe, son of a Second World War Veteran, Kingston, ON
  • Director – LCol (Ret’d) John Fotheringham, former Commanding Officer, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Toronto, ON
  • Director – Don G. Foster, B.Sc. Agr., CIM, FCSI, son of a D-Day Veteran, North Vancouver, BC
  • Director – Peter Wright, BCL/LLB, Glencore Canada, Toronto, ON
  • Director – Derron Bain, SVP Concert Infrastructure, RMC Graduate, grandson of two Second World War Veterans, Burlington, ON
  • Associate – Warrant Officer Darryl Casselman, CD, serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces – Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, Burlington, ON
  • Associate – Doug Cooper, grandson of two Second World War Veterans, Stoney Creek, ON
  • Associate – BGen (ret’d) David Patterson, MSM, CD former Deputy Commander 4th Canadian Division, Afghan veteran, grandson of a First World War veteran

L’Association Centre Juno Beach in France:

  • President – John Clemes, Paris, France
  • Vice-president – Ian McLean, Paris, France
  • Director – Jean-Pierre Bénamou, Bayeux, France
  • Director – Capitain Daniel Granotier, Honorary Ambassador of the “Regiment de la Chaudiere” in France, Bernières-sur-Mer, France

Honorary Patron of the Juno Beach Centre Association: General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence

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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 periods.

 

Our team in Canada:

Juno Beach Centre Association

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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.

The overall budget of the Juno Beach Centre, including costs of construction, museum equipment and the opening ceremonies, was 10 million Canadian dollars, or 6,250,000 euros. The funds needed to finance the Centre were collected privately and from the Canadian and French governments.

A campaign to secure private funding to finance the Centre was conducted by the Juno Beach Centre Association across Canada, appealing to private citizens, veterans’ associations, institutions, schools and businesses.

On February 15, 2007, after 4 years of Juno Beach Centre operations, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to Canada’s Second World War veterans and announced a contribution of 5 million Canadian dollars to operate the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France through the next decade. This funding support was renewed in April 2017 with a pledge of 500,000 Canadian dollars per year.

Wal-Mart Canada was associated with the Juno Beach Centre Association for 10 years. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2000, with the support of multiple branches, by means of advertising brochures distributed to over eight million households. Wal-Mart’s “Buy a Brick” campaign was the first activity of this national fundraising effort which sought to have customers donate a dollar to the Juno Beach Centre and thereby have their name placed on a “paper brick.”

In addition, 200 branches of the Royal Canadian have provided support to the Centre.

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.

Today, several donation programs are in place. The Association continues to propose the “bricks” program for individuals, families, schools, companies, etc. to pay tribute to a Canadian Second World War veteran. This program is also open to all other donors and is still being conducted today. For 400 € (500 CAD) or more, the veteran or donor’s name is inscribed on the brick which is the mounted on one of the Juno Beach Centre’s memorial kiosks. In addition, there is the Flag Sponsorship Program, the Commemorative Badge program and the Legacy of Honours video program.

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.

 

PERMANENT DISPLAYS AND SERIVICES

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. A digital map was added in 2019, featuring the Canadian regiments in Normandy during the summer of 1944. Since early 2020, the Webb Visit app enables access to translations of content in the permanent exhibit in Dutch and German, as well as access to additional content.

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. The cinema holds up to 62 people per show and the Juno Beach Centre was proud to open it with the premiere of the film, entitled “They Walk With You”, an immersion in the Canadian Experience on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.

The film 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 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.

As a logical extension inside, the main lobby of the Juno Beach Centre was renovated in order to keep-up with the evolution of the museum, 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.

In 2013 a signage improvement project was carried out outside the museum, including a new panel giving the Esplanade the name of Garth Webb.

The boutique of the Juno Beach Centre has seen regular updates and improvements. 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.

 

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 evolving educational program, guide program, the guided tours of Park Juno, the variety of temporary exhibits, and its cultural programming.

The excellence of the Juno Beach Centre’s facilities and services were acknowledged when the museum was 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. Since 2003, some 170 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

Since the creation of Juno Park in 2004, the observation bunker (R666) which faces the museum, was a highlight. In 2009, visiting the bunker became part of the guided tour of Juno Park. In 1944, this bunker was a German observation post that was part of the Atlantic Wall defense system. It contained radio equipment that allowed its occupants to communicate with other bunkers and coordinate the defense of the beach. A machine gun post was positioned on the top of the bunker. A steel dome (removed in the late 1970s) protected the observing soldier. It is a great example of the German strategy to fortify the port of Courseulles. In 2014, the underground Command Post, which controlled the site in 1944 and was originally connected to the observation bunker by a covered tunnel, was excavated and integrated into the Juno Park visit.

While Juno Park is open to the public, the tour of the observation bunker and the command post is only possible with a Juno Beach Centre guide as part of the guided tour (available in French and English).

 

Bunker Archeology in Juno Park

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 some 10 excavation work sites to rehabilitate the German tunnels. Teams of volunteers have cleared 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 and are valorised with the Juno Beach Centre’s guided tours.

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. Work on the esplanade in front of the museum was also completed in 2011.

 

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” was conceived 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 Indigenous veterans by understanding some of their traditions and how they evolved in the 21st century.

This exhibit 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, 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, the exhibit “Grandma, What Was it Like During the War? Life for Normans and Canadians from occupation to Liberation” was presented. This exhibit, conceived and created by the Juno Beach Centre for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, told the story of Norman and Canadian civilians (specifically children) from 1940 to 1944. It answered 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 were enlightened as to what their great-grandparents endured during the war, as well as the meaning of “Liberation”.

For the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 2017, the exhibit “From Vimy to Juno: Memories of Canadians in France” retraced the two major events in Canadian history, enabling visitors to better understand the stories of those who experienced the major victories at Vimy and Juno. The chronological circuit allowed visitors to better understand the notion of enlisting in the military in the respective context, as well as the grief experienced by families and the culture of commemoration in Canada that developed in the twentieth century. The exhibit demonstrated how Canadians commemorated those who lost their lives and the important role that the French play in preserving their memory.

In 2019, the “Great Women During the War, 1939-1945” was inaugurated on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Developed by the Canadian War Museum in partnership with the Juno Beach Centre, this exhibit presents 16 portraits of Canadian and European women. During the Second World War, women experienced anxiety, fear, worry and loss, while holding on to hope. Women’s experiences varied greatly, depending on their circumstances. Many women overcame major obstacles to make essential contributions to the war effort, often receiving little recognition in return. The 16 stories in this exhibition pay tribute to the courage and contributions of Canadian and European women during the war.

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); “Veterans’ Voices” (2014); “Maple Leaves and Tulips” (2015); “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a Canadian Tradition” (2016); “Vimy, a Canadian Battle in France” (2017); “Together” (2019); “Maple Leaves and Tulips” (2020).

 

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 and up) students. These were available until 2019.

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 to promote an intergenerational experience.

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”.

As these educational activities were aimed at school groups aged 7-11 years old, in 2009 the “History on Wheels” presentation was developed for students aged 11 years and up. 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 ran regularly in low-season in the permanent exhibit.

In 2014, the presentation entitled “A Canadian on D-Day” was replaced by a new educational activity aimed at school groups aged 7-11 years old entitled “History at Your Fingertips”. It directly linked to the temporary exhibit “Grandma, what was it like during the War?”.

Starting in 2015, the offer for school groups took on a digital app form. This was first available for secondary students with the exhibit “Grandma, what was it like during the War?”. In 2017, two apps were developed for the exhibit “From Vimy to Juno”.

As a result of these experience, in 2019, the Juno Beach Centre replaced its offer for school groups within temporary exhibitions with an offer in the museum’s permanent exhibition. The “Explore Juno as a Class” digital app led by a Canadian guide enables students to discover the museum’s youth circuit using tablets (two versions for primary and secondary students). At the same time, thanks to new interactive displays and touch screens, the circuit “Explore Juno as a Family” enables families to discover the museum in a dynamic and accessible manner.

 

The 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 tour of the battlefields in France was a natural extension of the educational and memorial mission of the Juno Beach Centre. The objective was that every participant return 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 would continue to share with their students for years to come.

Over more than 10 years, more than 250 educators from across Canada took part. By offering this Professional Development Tour, the Juno Beach Centre was able to create a bond with all the participants and ensure that, when they returned to their school, they would have a new found understanding for the importance of remembrance and will be much more effective educators. Many of the tour participants returned to France with their own school groups.

The Juno Beach Centre continues to engage with teachers in France and in Canada thanks to its innovative educational programs, teaching tools and resources.

 

OVER 17 YEARS OF WELCOMING VISITORS AND ANIMATIONS

Over the past 17 years, the Juno Beach Centre has welcomed more than one million visitors, including some 300,000 Canadians. Canadian visitors represent on average 28% per year, French visitors 36%, British visitors 13% and Dutch visitors 7%.

28% percent of visitors are under 18 years old. 15% of the visitors are school groups.

1 visitor out of 4 (and even 1 out of 3 in 2019) follow a guided tour of Juno Park.

Welcoming veterans is always an exceptional moment for the staff of the Juno Beach Centre. Since its opening, the Centre has organized dozens of 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. This includes conferences and film presentations; concerts and shows; animations or workshops for children on the themes of the temporary exhibits, history and Canadian culture including Christmas, Halloween and Canada Day. These have been attended by thousands of children from or on holidays in the Courseulles area.

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.

Updated in June 2020 by Nathalie Worthington, Director of the Juno Beach Centre, Normandy, France