One of Canada’s most famous photographs of the Second World War has a strong British Columbia connection.
The picture, Wait for Me, Daddy, was taken Nov. 1, 1940 as members of the B.C. Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) were preparing to board the S.S. Princess Joan at the New Westminster CPR docks. It shows Warren Bernard running to his father, Jack Bernard. To the left his is mother Bernice Bernard.
Farther back in the line and to the left is Charlie Bernhardt, a Summerland veteran.
The photographer was Vancouver Daily Province staff photographer Claud Dettloff.
This photograph was featured in Life Magazine, Liberty Magazine, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest and was selected as one of the year’s best pictures by Editor and Publisher Encyclopedia Britannica. It was also picked by Associated Press and the Rotarian, the Rotary international magazine. In British Columbia, virtually all secondary schools display this photograph.
The little boy is Warren (Whitey) Bernard who was born in Summerland in 1935.
In Summerland Warren was known as Gippy but since the famous photograph he continues to be known as Whitey.
His father is Jack Bernard and Warren’s concerned mother is Bernice Bernard (nee Sutherland).
When the photograph was taken Warren’s grandfather Vic Bernard was just to the left of Bernice and outside the range of the picture. Vic was one of the founding members of Summerland Legion #22.
The lineup of soldiers was traveling down Columbia Street and the corner of 8th Street in New Westminster.
At the corner the line split into two lines and apparently Whitey Bernard was concerned about which line his father would go into.
Whitey Bernard’s family moved from Summerland just before the photograph was taken. He often returned to Summerland for summer visits and stayed with Edgar and Francis Gould. Edgar was the former fire chief in Summerland.
Whitey has had an active life. He married Ruby Johnson in 1964.
He has been continually active in politics. He was elected alderman in Tofino, eventually served as mayor of that town for many years in the 1980s and returned as a councillor.
He remains active in Tofino’s Legion branch 65 and has also played a central role in Tofino’s successful Salmon Enhancement Society
His wife Ruby also served two terms as councillor and recently retired from politics.
While Bernard is the focus of the photograph, there is another Summerland connection in the picture. Farther back in the line is Charlie Bernhardt, a Summerland veteran.
Bernhardt, who still lives in Summerland, enlisted in Kelowna on June 15, 1940, when he was 19. He served until October, 1945.
Reflecting on the picture, Bernhardt said it depicts one of the most difficult aspects of war. “Home and family is the foundation of our society,” he said. “Here we have the separation.”
Bernhardt and the others in the picture sailed to Nanaimo. From there, he went to the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Nova Scotia and later to the United Kingdom.
He was with the 3rd Canadian Infantry on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and was part of the second wave of soldiers who landed that morning at 10 o’clock.
Reflecting on the war and its aftermath becomes difficult for Bernhardt as he thinks of those who died in action during those years. “It’s the waste that bothers you,” he said. “Everybody loses in a war. Everybody.”
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