Behind the Names: James Barnfather

| November 11, 2014

To mark the days leading up to Remembrance Day, we’ve collected stories of people all across Canada sharing what inspired them to sponsor a Commemorative Brick at the Juno Beach Centre. Through their sponsorship, the Juno Beach Centre has continued to thrive since we first opened in 2003. The Centre has been fortunate to play host to many of our donors and people who have been touched by the impact of war in Europe and at home in Canada.

Please click here for more information on how to sponsor a Commemorative Brick for someone in your family or community.

Our third story comes from Beth Barnfather who sponsored a Commemorative Brick to honour of her father, James Barnfather, a veteran of the Second World War.

“As is true of so many veterans my father rarely discussed the war with his two daughters and wife therefore I know very little of his experiences. My dad died in 1980 at age 60. Had he lived longer I am sure I would have pursued his service experience as my interest increased with maturity. I now appreciate that wartime  service was a pivotal point in the lives of those who returned home. I purchased the veteran’s brick to honour my father. His four great-grandchildren now have a family reference to service. Dad had a very easy going personality, a gentleman with a wry sense of humour. A history buff he would have made a great absent minded professor.

My father was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England Oct. 8, 1919, the son of a First World War veteran who served with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. My grandfather immigrated to Canada (Toronto) in 1910 and returned to England with the Princess Pat’s. While on leave (wounded) he returned to his home town of Whitehaven, married my grandmother, and all 3 of them arrived in Toronto in 1920. His sister Jean was born in 1925.

My sister (Dorathy) and I have fond memories of attending the children’s Christmas parties at the Royal Canadian Legion’s former Toronto Beach Branch at Kinston Road and Woodbine with dad.

My father brought home two miniature sets of Dutch shoes, each marked “Holland 1945” on the sole. My mother (Margaret) has these shoes on display in her living room. I assume many other veterans of the liberation of Holland have similar souvenirs. I am curious to know if they were purchased by the service men or gifts from the Dutch.

It is a pleasure to contribute to the Juno Beach Centre. I applaud your fine work in preserving  the contributions of Canadians in the Second World War.”

-Beth Barnfather

Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at

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