Canada’s most famous war photo has been honoured with a monument near the exact location where the picture was taken in New Westminster, B.C., 74 years ago.
The iconic image, titled “Wait For Me, Daddy,” shows a little white-haired boy breaking away from his mother and running toward the outstretched hand of his soldier father as he marched with the British Columbia Regiment to catch a waiting ship during the Second World War.
Warren “Whitey” Bernard, now 79 years old, unveiled the monument on Oct. 4 at Hyack Square in New Westminster, close to where a photographer from The Province newspaper snapped the picture on Oct 1, 1940.
The photo Claude Dettloff captured was picked up all over the world and featured in Life magazine and other notable publications. It hung in every B.C. school during the war, and was used in Canada’s war bond fundraising campaign with Whitey Bernard going along on the campaign tour. It is now displayed in the Canadian War Museum.
To commemorate the historic photograph, the City of New Westminster commissioned a sculpture based on the image. Veronica and Edwin Dam de Nogales, a husband-and-wife team from Spain, were selected over 15 other artists to create the memorial.
“The original photo was of an event that happened here in New Westminster, but the power of the photo echoed across the nation and across nations because the emotions presented were being repeated in all ports,” the couple said in a press release.
“We are thrilled with the outcome [of the sculpture]; we hope everyone else will be too.”
During the unveiling ceremony, Canada Post revealed its newly issued stamp featuring the photograph, while the Royal Canadian Mint did likewise for its new toonie depicting the image.
The event was attended by two veterans from the regiment who marched on the day the photo was taken, as well as Dettloff’s grandchildren and other dignitaries from different levels of government and the military.
“I believe that the Wait For Me Daddy war memorial will be as timeless as the original photo, particularly since the image continues to resonate with people of all generations, locally, nationally, and around the world,” said New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright.
“With the monument located near the spot where the photo was taken, we’re creating a vibrant city centre as a legacy,” Wright added, referring to the newly opened Anvil Centre, which includes a theatre, conference space, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, and a museum featuring a Wait for Me Daddy exhibit.