President and Chief Commemoration Officer (CCO): John Azar
John is a management consultant with over thirty years experience in business, government (federal and provincial) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Canada and abroad. His interest in military history and commemoration was influenced by his father who, after serving overseas in the Second World War, worked in the Canadian Army Directorate of History during the writing of the official histories of the Second World War and Korean War, and then as assistant curator of war art at the Canadian War Museum.
John has delivered military history presentations to many historical, community and school groups including the annual Remembrance Week tour for the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria. He is a member of several historical societies, including the Western Front Association, and is an active participant in the WFA – Pacific Coast Branch. He has a particular interest in engaging youth and helping them appreciate the relevance that stories of Great War experiences can have on their unfolding lives.
Dr. Barry Gough (Vice-President)
Barry was founding director of Canadian Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; Fellow of King’s College, London; and Life Member of the Association of Canadian Studies. He is Vice-President of the British Columbia Historical Federation, a past President of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Vancouver Island, a past member of the Board of Academic Advisers, The Churchill Centre, Chicago.
As Chair of the Victoria (British Columbia) High School Alumni Association, Barry is leading a project that will tell the stories of the teachers and students from “Vic High” who served in the Great War.
Victoria (BC) High School Memorial Banner (Created c. 1920)
Dr. Christopher Gainor (Secretary-Treasurer)
Chris is a historian of technology, specializing in 20th century military technologies, especially those relating to aviation and space flight. His books include: To a Distant Day: The Rocket Pioneers (2008); Canada in Space (2006); Arrows to the Moon: Avro’s Engineers and the Space Race (2001).
Chris is a member of several historical groups, including the Western Front Association and the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Vancouver Island. He has worked as a journalist at The Vancouver Sun and other publications, and as a communicator with a variety of government and non-governmental organizations.
Col. (Ret) James Kempling
Jim was commissioned in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) after graduating from Royal Military College in 1965. After serving in Germany, Cyprus, Australia and across Canada, Jim retired from the Canadian Army and led a variety of public sector agencies before pursuing an active consulting career in strategic planning.
His recently completed MA thesis at the University of Victoria is titled “Birth of a Regiment,” and covers the history of the PPCLI in the First World War (www.birthofaregiment.com). He is now a PhD candidate focusing on the impact of the First World War on Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Jim is a member of the PPCLI Association and is Vice-President, Fundraising for the PPCLI Foundation—the charitable arm of the regiment.
Yvonne Van Ruskenveld
Yvonne is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in educational publishing. She has a deep interest in the Great War and is a member of the Western Front Association. Yvonne has developed and given presentations to the WFA – Pacific Coast Branch on prisoners of war, nursing sisters and the memorialization of those who served and died. Her interest in the Great War grew out of Veterans Week tours that she developed for the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria. She is currently working with Dr. Barry Gough on the Victoria High School Great War project.