Ponoka County resident Howard Bradley realized a long-held “bucket list” item after visiting a lake in northern Saskatchewan in September that was named after his uncle, who was killed in action in WWII.
“It was quite an experience to say the least,” said Bradley.
RCAF WO2 Howard E. Bradley, who is Bradley’s namesake, was born in Moose Jaw, Sask., and died on July 13, 1943.
Since 1947, Canada has been naming its lakes after its fallen soldiers in WWII and Korea. The Saskatchewan Geographic Names Board has honoured 3,922 from that time, as part of its Saskatchewan Geo-Memorial Project.
Since being put on to the idea by his father’s youngest brother (who has since passed away) five or six years ago, Bradley has wanted to visit Bradley Lake.
Just the logistics of getting there took some planning and co-operation from a small airline company, Trans West, which eventually gave him a discounted price on the seats.
Finally ready to make the trip, Bradley brought three of his grandsons, young men aged 22 to 31, with him to pay their respects.
Bradley says he made it clear it wasn’t a fishing trip, but a reflective homage of a kind to the “supreme sacrifice” of the soldiers who gave their lives.
A regular flight brought them so far and then Bradley had to charter a small, 1959 Beaver floater plane to take them further north to Bradley Lake.
The pilot had to circle the area a few times to scope out a landing place, and then taxied them to shore.
The pilot stayed with them for about four hours, while they built a little cairn and placed letters he and his grandsons had written into a “pelican case” – a waterproof suitcase used often by the military.
Although it’s not known exactly how many lakes exist in Canada, it’s thought to contain more than 2 million, which means geo-memorial projects like this could stay busy for a long time to come, with 42,000 Canadians killed in WWII alone.