The story of Nadine Carter, all of 12, with long blond hair under a ball cap worn backwards, and her connection to Capt. Roy Brown, all of dead for 72 years, is quite wonderful.
“She’s stirred and invigorated a lot of older people, that’s for sure,” said Rob Probert, president of The Roy Brown Society, founded in 2009 in the pilot’s hometown of Carleton Place.
When she was only 10 and in Grade 6, Nadine was working on a social sciences project about a remaking of the coat of arms in Whitchurch-Stouffville, north of Toronto, where she lives. Who, she began, were the famous residents of the town? Five names came up — four hockey players and one A. Roy Brown, who settled there to farm after the Great War and died in 1944. She knew nothing of him, though he was the celebrated pilot who had taken down the so-called Red Baron, Manfred Von Richthofen, in 1918.
With the help of family, she went at it old school, mailing 11 letters to politicians, and military and heritage groups — as a 10 year old. “I even had to ask what things meant like squadron and what the Somme was,” she later wrote her teacher at Glad Park Public."
Also, when I started, I was thinking it was about Captain Brown but, as I learned more and more, I started to think it was more about our town and how we forget about people when they are gone.” Honestly, from the mouths of babes.
Where was Brown buried, she asked? In common ground in Toronto? Why was there no headstone? Why were there no books in the library about him? Why were there no plaques anywhere? Well, it was the lighting of a fire. Pretty soon, she was in touch with the Brown society, was corresponding with noted war historian Norm Christie, was meeting with then-area MP Paul Calandra, and addressing the town council of Whitchurch-Stouffville before a crowd of 100 or so.
To race ahead, Nadine will join Probert on Thursday at the Toronto Necropolis Cemetery, where an ordinary military gravestone will mark the final resting place of “Arthur Roy Brown, DSC, Captain RAF, 1893-1944 within this cemetery and Edythe Monypenny, Loving Wife, 1896-1988.” She will, of course, say a few words. “I also think — that memories are where we find our thoughts of worth,” reads her speech. “And finally I think memory is the ground on which we stand here today.”
It doesn’t end there.
On July 1 2016, Nadine will be part of a Canada Day ceremony at the Memorial Park bandshell in Stouffville, where a plaque to Brown will be unveiled. There will also be a flypast by vintage aircraft and, for three days, an extensive display on Brown’s life.
And it doesn’t end there.
A plaque is also to be installed at the former Brown farm, now part of Rolling Hills Golf Club, just a few kilometres from town. “It sure offers a glimpse of optimism when it comes to what the next generation of Canadians might achieve,” said Probert. Nadine, never doubt, immersed herself in the Brown story. Last summer, she visited Carleton Place to see Brown’s childhood home and tour the local touchstones. It was the same year she attended Brown’s induction into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, where she met several of his descendants.
“Roy Brown was sort of famous, but he wasn’t really remembered in my town,” Nadine said Monday evening after school. “I thought if someone like that could be forgotten, what about ordinary soldiers?” There is an enduring controversy about whether Capt. Brown actually shot down the Red Baron or whether he was felled by a gunner on the ground. It is widely accepted, however, that, either way, it was Brown’s aerial pursuit of the German ace that led to his demise.
They were different characters. Von Richthofen was born into a family of noblemen and was celebrated across Germany for his 80 kills, each marked by the ordering of a silver cup. Brown, meanwhile, sought no credit for his role in the death of the Red Baron, in fact was troubled by the taking of life, and he constantly worried about the pilots under his watch. When the war ended, he rarely spoke of the deadly aerial fight and became an accomplished farmer. How quietly Canadian.
Happy Canada Day. We are the lucky ones, something even a child can see.
Originally Published on: June 29, 2016 Kelly Egan - Ottawa Citizen
Nadine Carter, 13, of Whitchurch-Stouffville is a 2016 Ontario Junior Citizen finalist.
If Carter’s name sounds familiar to local residents, it should. No one has been a greater advocate for Carleton Place native Capt. Arthur Roy Brown than the teenager.
Brown, a First World War flying ace, is officially credited with shooting down German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, in the skies over war-torn France on April 21, 1918. After retiring from the Royal Air Force in 1919, Brown worked as an accountant and founded a small airline, and he was the editor of Canadian Aviation for a little bit. Brown moved to Whitchurch-Stouffville in 1939, purchasing a farm. Sadly, he died five years later, at age 50. Today, Roy Brown Farm is part of the Rolling Hills Golf Club.
By way of a school project two years ago, after Carter learned of her municipality’s famous resident, she set out on a mission to erect a memorial plaque in his honour and locate his grave in Toronto’s Necropolis Cemetery and add a proper headstone.
In June 2016, with Carter, dignitaries and members of the Brown family and the community looking on, a military tombstone was placed over the soldier’s previously unmarked grave. As well, two plaques honouring Brown were unveiled during a celebration in Carter’s community.
The teenager is now working on her next project, aiding Canada’s soldiers alongside the Wounded Warriors organization.
Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA) newspapers will recognize Carter and 12 other finalists for their outstanding achievement at an upcoming special ceremony in Toronto.
“These young people represent a diverse group ranging in age, interests and backgrounds, but they all share a common desire to make a difference,” says a media release. “They are truly an inspiring bunch whose stories illustrate leadership, creativity, determination and generosity.”
In an email from Carter on Jan. 29, she said, “I was really surprised when (my dad) told me about the Ontario Junior Citizen award, and it is exciting.”
Roy Brown Society founding director and president Rob Probert noted Carter’s efforts to have a headstone installed and proper recognition within Stouffville “brought national attention to all of our collective interests.”
“She would be the first to acknowledge that many had a hand in this effort, but we should all be very happy to see the efforts and the results of the hard work that such a young person achieved,” he said. On behalf of the Roy Brown Society, Probert offered the youngster congratulations.
After learning of Carter being named an Ontario Junior Citizen finalist, Brown’s granddaughter, Dianne Sample responded with, “Great news!” Roy Brown Society member John Corneil was thrilled by the announcement. “It is great to see a person of this age with such drive and determination recognized at this level,” he said. “Well done!” A founding director of the Roy Brown Society, Jeff Maguire called Carter “wise beyond her years.” “A well earned honour ... Nadine is a truly remarkable young lady,” he said. Brown’s niece, Carol Nicholson, and her family are thrilled about the latest, “most well-deserved achievement of Nadine’s.”
The other 2016 Ontario Junior Citizen finalists: Mansimran Anand, 17, Brampton; Blaise Barber, 18, Hamilton; Veronica Chan, 17, Markham; Corbin Evans, 12, Brockville; Sarah, 14, and Claire Jordan, 11, Toronto; Brooklyn Lampi, 13, Kincardine; Miranda Li, 17, Toronto; Sharon Lim, 16, Oakville; Jack Mogus, 16, Oakville; Dario Smagata-Bryan, 17, Welland; and Hira Waheed, 17, Hannon.
Originally Published on: Jan 30, 2017 by Tara Gesner - Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette|