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February 10, 2012

Former Mattawa Soldier Honoured

I have written about architect Jules Paivio who lived in Cameron Township outside Mattawa in retirement for years and designed the beautiful log Mattawa Museum. He recently received Spanish citizenship as the last of 1546 Canadians to go as” brigatistas” to fight rising  fascism in Spain in 1936. He is now 94 years old. He received the citizenship from the Spanish Consul in Toronto in front of family and friends and others on January 26th 2012 

Jules PaivioBrigadista” in  1930s

Jules was a member of the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion (The Mac-Paps) that helped the Spanish government for 3 years to unsuccessfully prevent the rise of Franco’s fascism. This was the war that made Norman Bethune, Ernest Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls) and Picasso (Guernica) memorable personalities. 

Paivio like many Cameron Township Finns was clearly a left wing socialist believer and oneCameron  group was under surveillance by the RCMP in the early days long before Jules arrived. Years after his war experience Jules helped establish a beautiful Mac-Pap memorial in Ottawa honouring the 1546 soldiers. There was a gathering in Ottawa in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the memorial and Jules was there and was informed by the Spanish Ambassador that he would get Spanish citizenship for his contribution.Jules was President of the Association of Veterans and Friends of the Mackenzie Battalion. There are also smaller memorials in Toronto and Vancouver. The Matawa Museum is planning a profile on Jules beside the Cameron Finn display_ there 

After Mattawa 

Jules moved to Sudbury to be near family after Mattaw and later to an Aurora rest home. In several interviews including one for inclusion in a  book by Macleans senior writer Michael Petrou. Jules recalled those early years beginning when he was 19 years old. The Canadian government did not support their going to Spain and they were never recognized over the years until lately.  Over 400 gave their lives. 

 National Monument to the Mac-Paps in Ottawa.

Petrou in his book Renegades tells about a group of Mac-Pacs including Jules Paivio being lined up to be executed when a senior fascist officer decided to use them in an exchange program. Paivio spent a year in severe conditions in prison.  When he came back he trained as an architect and taught at Ryerson University for 20 years before retiring to Cameron Township where he and his wife lived in a geodisic dome he built. 

In one of my Community Voices articles I wrote about Jules visiting the museum to help celebrate its 20th anniversary and also the opening of a Cameron Finn display in the museum. That display was established through the leadership of Jules’ wife’s sister Suoma Luoma. (see my article by Googling Heritage Perspectives and go to October 18, 2005 #230 article.  Also see article #300 on the Renegades book.) 

Jules Paivio to the left of Suoma Luoma at the opening of the Cameron Finn Display at the Mattawa Museum in 2005.

In a December 29, 2011 article (#402) I wrote about a novel Not in My Father’s Footsteps by Terrence Rundle West which was launched in Sudbury in November.  West consulted with Paivio on the book.  The book is available now at Gulliver’s Books & Toys. 

It should also be mentioned that Jules was featured in a 42 minute film “To My Son in Spain: Finnish Canadians in the Spanish Civil War in 2009”.  Log on to Thunderstonepictures.com. 

For numerous other references Google Jules name and check out the many stories including the recent ones on his Spanish citizenship which was featured in the Globe and Mail. Jules by the way hopes to use the passport and make another trip to Spain

The Missing Chapter on First Nations People 

Maurice Switzer the Director of Communications for the Union of Ontario Indians will facilitate a 4 part look at native life and current issues.  The event will take place at the Powassan Union Public Library, 324 Clark Street, Powassan - $10 registration, space limited. First Session February 23 followed by March 1, 8, 13, 6:30-8:30pm.Call 705-724-3618 for information. 

History of a Mystery

Dan Taylor in Powassan is developing a war memorial in the Powassan Legion and is looking for information on  two German WWI machine guns and a trench mortar donated to Powassan by the Canadian Government in 1920. They were apparently placed in the Memorial Park but were abused and  possibly scraped. If anyone knows about them or has a photograph Dan  would like to hear about it. He is in Florida at the moment. Call me at 705-724-6882 or email and I will pass on the information. 

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