Published: July 18, 2017
OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA – In conjunction with the July 11 departure parade for Canadian Forces members participating in this year’s Nijmegen Marches, a pair of miniature wooden shoes was presented to the Canadian War Museum by the family of James McGinnis, a member of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC) during World War II. Dutch citizens gave many of these miniature shoes, called Liberation Wooden Shoes (Bevrijdingsklompjes), to members of the Canadian and Allied Forces as a way of expressing gratitude in marking their country’s liberation.
“Canada’s crucial role in the liberation of the Netherlands created a bond between our two countries that endures to this day,” said Stephen Quick, director general of the Canadian War Museum. “These shoes remind us of this bond, and also of the ways this experience has been remembered and commemorated. We are very pleased to have them in our collection.”
As a truck driver with the RCASC, McGinnis delivered food, ammunition and fuel to fighting forces. The RCASC also helped transport wounded soldiers out of battle zones. His service took him through France and Belgium to the Netherlands. McGinnis landed on Juno Beach in Normandy six days after D-Day and served until the end of the war in Europe. While participating in the Battle of the Scheldt, which opened the vital port of Antwerp to Allied shipping, he moved east into the Dutch province of Brabant. There, he was stationed in the city of Tilburg after it was liberated on October 27, 1944. It was in Tilburg that McGinnis received this pair of Liberation Wooden Shoes.
The shoes were donated to the museum by McGinnis’s daughter, Doreen, and his son-in-law, Simon Beekhuizen, whose family was living in The Hague when it was liberated by Canadian Forces. The shoes will be displayed in the museum’s lobby July 24-30.
This is the 20th year that the Canadian War Museum has hosted the departure parade for participating Canadian Forces members. The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen is the world’s largest multiple-day walking event, with more than 47,000 military and civilian participants from more than 50 countries.
The Canadian War Museum is at 1 Vimy Place. For information, www.warmuseum.ca or 800-555-5621.
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