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.