The Maple Leaf in the post-war period

Sergeant H. Lester of the South Saskatchewan Regiment reading the Maple Leaf newspaper in Oldenburg, Germany in May 1945.
Sergeant H. Lester of the South Saskatchewan Regiment reading the Maple Leaf newspaper in Oldenburg, Germany in May 1945.


Continued from Features and coverage of the wartime Maple Leaf.

At the end of the war, The Maple Leaf didn’t close up shop immediately: as long as Canadian troops remained abroad, it would continue its mission to entertain and inform. With the London edition established to cater to those soldiers passing through, the Brussels edition packed up east for its new home in Amsterdam.

The Maple Leaf was only there from September to November 1945, but it was an eventful three months. In Amsterdam, Major Doug MacFarlane, The Maple Leaf’s managing editor, heard a rumour that conscripts—rather than long-serving enlisted men—were filling the ranks of homebound units. Some investigation revealed that was indeed the case, and The Maple Leaf, the paper of the troops, immediately published a front-page editorial.

The chain of command was unimpressed, and Maj MacFarlane was called in to meet with Army Commander Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds. Before leaving for the meeting, he handed off a second editorial for the next day’s front page. The headline: “… And Furthermore.” It was published, and Maj MacFarlane was subsequently removed from his position. The staff threatened to strike; only the reminder that it would be considered insubordination was sufficient to stop them.

In November 1945, The Maple Leaf moved to Delmenhorst, Germany. Though the press operators in town were friendly and unresentful, the press itself had to be cobbled together from limited resources. It suffered many problems, including electrical, mechanical, parts, and supply issues, and the cartoons were often drawn on the backs of unclaimed SS posters.

In addition to the newspapermen, two women had a significant hand in the Delmenhorst Maple Leaf: Sergeant Ruth Carmichael, a staff writer from the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, and Hilde Weber, who took charge of the “This World” and “Inside Germany” columns.

The final edition was published in May 1946. But for a one-time reunion issue in 1969, The Maple Leaf’s time was done. It wasn’t until 1998 that it was revived and the modern-day paper was born. Originally published in print, The Maple Leaf has now made the transition to digital for a new era. Defence Team members, as well as all Canadians, can access the mobile-friendly website anytime, anywhere.

Information for this article has been collected from Barry D. Rowland & J. Douglas MacFarlane, The Maple Leaf Forever, Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc. (1987).

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