One of the reasons I started my travels with a trip to Eastern Canada was so that I would be in Ottawa in August for the 2005 Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association (HKVCA) National Convention. I am going on a trip to Hong Kong in December with the HKVCA to see first hand where my father, L.-Cpl. Paul Emile Mondor, fought and was held as a POW in WWII before shipped off to the Oeyama camp in Japan, so the convention was an opportunity to meet some of the folks that will be going on the trip and an opportunity to meet some of the Hong Veterans, including some of my dad's old friends.
The 2005 HKVCA National Convention was quite an event and not at all what I expected. As mentioned on the HKVCA web site, there was a lot going on throughout the weekend. I did not expect there would be 700+ attendees and from what I understand, it was a bit of a surprise to the organizing committee as well. They were originally planning for about 300 when they began accepting registrations in the June time frame. Once that number was surpassed they changed several venues to accommodate the overwhelming interest and then they finally had to stop accepting registrants when number hit 700 in late July because there just wasn't enough time to accommodate any more people.
The most surprising thing about the large crowd was the amount of family interest. There were many veterans with 15 to 18 family members along, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One family had something like over 40 members in attendance - they used the weekend as an opportunity for a family reunion.
From what I understand there are still around 150 Hong Kong Veterans alive today and just over 70 of them made it to the convention. They ranged in age from 79 to 94 - some were are young as 15 when they went to Hong Kong and some as old as 30.
The following is a sample of the many pictures I took during the weekend. Pictures from others are available on the HKVCA web site.
My first set of pictures here was taken at the National War Museum where we attended the official presentation of a plaque honouring the soldiers who fought in Hong Kong:
After the presentation we had an opportunity to tour the museum. The place is massive, so we never got through it all.
Saturday morning my sister and I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Association (HKVCA) at the Lord Elgin hotel. After the meeting we joined in on a trip to Rideau Hall. The following pictures were taken there.
Sunday morning's 11 a.m ceremony at the National War Memorial Cenotaph was probably the most memorable and unexpected part of the weekend.
We attended a luncheon in the Convention Centre after the Sunday morning ceremonies, so we took that as an opportunity to tour around in the Convention Centre (something that is not normally open to visitors).
I was surprised to see this section of the Berlin Wall, which once divided Germany, in the entrance to the Convention Center.
The last 2 pictures below are of an exhibit outside the Convention Centre.