Richard Heath Rohmer OC CMM OOnt DFC CD KC (born January 24, 1924) is a Canadian aviator, lawyer, adviser, author and historian.

Richard Rohmer

Rohmer at a Remembrance Day ceremony in 2012
Born (1924-01-24) January 24, 1924 (age 100)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Service/branchAir Command[a]
Years of service1942–1981
Commands held
  • Chief of Reserves of the Canadian Armed Forces
  • Commander of the Air Reserve Group
Battles/warsWorld War II
Mary Whiteside
(m. 1949; died 2020)
Children2, including Ann
Other workAuthor, lawyer, columnist

Rohmer was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and spent some of his early youth in Pasadena, California, as well as in western Ontario at Windsor and Fort Erie. The Peterborough Examiner's lead editorial of January 14, 2009 describes Rohmer as "one of Canada's most colourful figures of the past half-century". General Rohmer served as honorary advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces from 2014 to 2017. He was the advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs for the organization and conduct of Canada's celebration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day celebrations in Normandy in June 2014 and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland in May 2015. He is a veteran of D-Day, the Battle of Normandy and the Liberation of Holland.

Military career edit

After his studies in high school he worked briefly at Fleet Aerospace before joining in 1942 on his 18th birthday the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). In Europe in 1943–44 as a reconnaissance pilot flying North American Mustang fighters he completed a 135 mission tour of operations at the end of November 1944 in Holland. On July 17, 1944, he had spotted a fast moving staff car, usually used to carry German officers. According to Rohmer, the German officer being carried was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.[1] Rohmer reported the car's location to Group Control Centre, which sent in a Spitfire piloted by Canadian Charley Fox. Rohmer took part in D-Day and the Battles of Normandy, Belgium and Holland. He is now the senior surviving Canadian veteran of all of those Battles.

In 1945, he was demobilized and transferred to the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve (RCN(R)), where he was appointed as a lieutenant (P) RCN(R) with seniority. He served at HMCS Hunter in Windsor, Ontario, as commanding officer University Naval Training Division (UNTD) from 1946 until he retired in 1948.[2]

In 1950, he returned to the RCAF (Reserve) flying Vampire jets and commanding 400 Squadron (City of Toronto) and 411 Squadron (County of York). He retired in 1953 as a wing commander.

In 1971, he was appointed honorary Lieutenant-Colonel (and later Honorary Colonel) of 411 Air Reserve Squadron. In April 1975, he was promoted to Brigadier-General and appointed Senior Air Reserve Advisor. On April 1, 1976, he was appointed commander of the newly formed Air Reserve Group. On 31 January 1978 he was promoted to the rank of major-general and appointed Chief of Reserves. He was appointed a commander of the Order of Military Merit in December 1978 and left the military in January 1981.

On December 22, 2014, Major-General (Retired) Rohmer was named honorary advisor to the Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defence Staff, a three-year appointment "...created to recognize MGen (Ret’d) Rohmer’s contributions to the Canadian Armed Forces, and the unique advice and guidance that he provides to the Chief of the Defence Staff, drawing from his wealth of experience in service to Canada".[3][4]

On June 26, 2015, in his capacity as honorary advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rohmer was promoted to the rank of Honorary Lieutenant General by the outgoing and incoming Chiefs of the Defence Staff.[5]

Political career edit

From 1957 to 1959, Rohmer was a councillor on North York township council representing Ward 1, the township's easternmost district, which included Don Mills, where his family had lived since 1954.[6]

In 1958, he unsuccessfully challenged Hollis Beckett, the incumbent Progressive Conservative MPP in the riding of York East, for the Conservative nomination for the 1959 Ontario general election.[7]

In the 1960s, he supported John Robarts's successful candidacy to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and then served as a senior advisor and legal counsel to Premier Robarts for three years. He and Robarts conceived the idea, adopted by the provincial legislature in 1965, that the province adopt a provincial flag modelled on the red ensign. The move was in response to the Great Canadian flag debate in which the federal government decided to drop the Canadian Red Ensign in favour of the maple leaf flag.[7]

Rohmer is a monarchist.[4]

Mid-Canada Corridor edit

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Rohmer promoted a plan for a megaproject to develop and populate the Canadian sub-Arctic which he called the "Mid-Canada Corridor". While the plan interested some industrialists, CEOs, bankers, and the railways, it failed to win support from the Canadian government.[8]

Legal career edit

Rohmer, who completed his legal studies at Osgoode Hall Law School,[9] was called to the Bar in 1951, appointed Queen's Counsel in 1960, and currently holds "not practising law" status with the Law Society of Ontario.

During his law practice he was counsel before several administrative tribunals in land use and transportation. His major official plan change success occurred in 1972 when as counsel for Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway and their subsidiaries he appeared before the Ontario Municipal Board in a six-week contested hearing that resulted in the change of the official plan for all of the railway use lands around Union Station from Yonge Street to Bathurst Street (185 acres) to a high density mix of residential, commercial, entertainment, hotels, sport centres and other uses including construction of the CN Tower. That official plan is the basis for years of enormous development on the lands - lands then and now worth billions of dollars. It was the largest official plan change in the history of Canada.

Literary activities edit

Two of Rohmer's better-known novels are Ultimatum and Separation. Ultimatum, published in 1973, features political, economic, and energy crisis themes as well as the author's opinion about the viability of the Canadian nation. It is Rohmer's most popular novel[1] and it was the best-selling novel in Canada in 1973.[10] Three years later, Rohmer published Separation, a novel with domestic and international political themes surrounding the ambition of Quebec separatists to establish the Canadian province as a separate nation. It stayed on the Toronto Star's best-seller list for 22 weeks.[11] Separation was made into a television movie in 1977, and aired on the CTV network. Barry Morse was cast for a brief appearance as the British prime minister.

He is a well known Canadian author of both fiction and non-fiction. Throughout his literary career he has published over thirty books. His most recent non-fiction is The Building of the CN Tower published 2011 by RailCore Press Inc. of which he is president. His most recent novel, Ultimatum 2 was published early 2007. It fictionalizes a confrontation between the US and Russia against Canada over the building of an international high level nuclear waste disposal site in Arctic Canada. The second edition of his historical novel on the 1866–67 Canadian negotiations with the British for autonomy under the British North American Act is Sir John A's Crusade and Seward's Magnificent Folly.

Rohmer chaired the Royal Commission on Book Publishing in 1971–72.

Volunteer work edit

He was twice chancellor of the University of Windsor, serving a total of 13 years. In 1978, he negotiated the donation of Conrad Black's collection of Duplessis papers in exchange for an honorary degree.

He was a charter member of his local (Don Mills) Civitan club,[12] and he served as treasurer of the international organization. His position allowed him to meet U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to present Civitan's World Citizenship Award.[12]

He was chairman of the 60th anniversary of D-Day celebrations that took place in the presence of the Queen at Juno Beach in Normandy on 6 June 2004. As ministerial advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs he took part in the planning, preparation and execution of the government's celebration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach, France, on June 6, 2014, and was similarly engaged in the plans for the in-Holland Canadian celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands on May 5, 2015. He is now one of the very few surviving Canadian veterans of both of those Battles (Normandy and Holland).

He co-chaired the Ontario advisory committee that created the veterans' memorial unveiled on September 17, 2006 in front of the provincial legislature at Queen's Park, was chair of the Premier's Ceremonial Advisory Committee (2006-2014), and was a ten-year member of the advisory council of the Order of Ontario.

Rohmer currently holds the following honorary positions: honorary deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police; honorary chief of Toronto Paramedic Services; patron of the Toronto St. John's Ambulance (1978–2007), honorary fire chief of Collingwood, Ontario, and honorary chief of the Toronto Police Service. He is also the original honorary Chief of Paramedics in Ontario,[13] and during the period 1978-2007 was patron of the Toronto division of St. John's Ambulance.

Personal life edit

Rohmer lives in Collingwood, Ontario. His wife of 70 years, Mary Olivia (nicknamed Mary-O), passed away in January 2020.[14] He also practices aviation litigation with the Toronto law firm of Rohmer & Fenn. He has two daughters: Ann, a TV personality, and Catherine, a lawyer. He is a licensed pilot.

Rohmer turned 100 on January 24, 2024.[15]

Bibliography edit

  • Practice and Procedure Before the Highway Transport Board (1965)
  • The Green North: Mid-Canada (1970)
  • The Royal Commission on Book Publishing (Chair, 1972)
  • The Arctic Imperative (1973) Toronto, McClelland and Stewart ISBN 9780771077012
  • Ultimatum (1973) Toronto, Clarke, Irwin ISBN 9780772006189
  • Exxoneration (1974)
  • Exodus UK (1975) Toronto : McClelland and Stewart ISBN 9780771077067
  • Separation (1976) McClelland and Stewart ISBN 9780771077043
  • Balls! (1980)
  • Periscope Red (1980)
  • Poems by Arthur Henry Ward (1980)
  • Separation two (1981)
  • Pattons Gap (1981) New York : Beaufort Books ISBN 9780082500629
  • Triad (1982)
  • Retaliation (1982)
  • Massacre 747 (1984)
  • Rommel and Patton (1986)
  • Starmageddon (1986)
  • Hour of the Fox (1988)
  • Red Arctic (1989)
  • John A.'s Crusade (1995)
  • Death by Deficit (1996)
  • Caged Eagle (2002)
  • Raleigh on the Rocks (2002)
  • Generally Speaking (autobiography, 2004) Toronto, Dundurn Group ISBN 9781550025187
  • Ultimatum 2 (2007) Toronto, Dundurn ISBN 978-1-55002-584-2
  • Building of the CN Tower (2011)
  • Building of the Sky Dome/Rogers Centre (2012)
  • Sir John A's Crusade and Seward's Magnificent Folly (2013)
  • Poems by A H Ward
  • Practice and Procedure before the Ontario Highway Transport Board
  • Report of the Royal Commission on Book Publishing (co-author)

Honours edit

Ribbon bars of Richard Rohmer
Ribbon Description Notes
  Order of Canada (OC)
  • Officer
  • April 20, 1990
  • [16]
  Order of Military Merit (CMM)
  • Commander
  • December 11, 1978
  • [17]
  Order of Saint John (K.StJ)
  • Knight of Justice
  Order of Ontario (O.Ont)
  • Member
  • 1997
  Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
  1939–1945 Star
  Air Crew Europe Star
  Defence Medal
  Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
  • With Overseas Clasp
  War Medal
  Canadian Centennial Medal
  • 1967
  Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
  • 1977
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
  125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal
  • 1992
  Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
  • [18]
  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
  • [19]
  Canadian Forces' Decoration (CD)
  Service Medal of the Order of St John
  • With 3 Silver Clasps
  Distinguished Marksmanship Ribbon
  Order of Leopold
  Legion of Honour

Honorary degrees edit

Richard Rohmer has received many honorary degrees in recognition of his service to Canada, these include:

Country Date School Degree
  Ontario May 1975 University of Windsor Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [22]
  Ontario 2009 Law Society of Upper Canada Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [23]
  Ontario November 20, 2015 Royal Military College of Canada Doctor of Military Science[24]

Notes edit

  1. ^ Known as Royal Canadian Air Force until 1968

References edit

  1. ^ a b O'Connor, Joe (February 2, 2015). "Meet the most interesting Canadian: From fighting Nazis to chaperoning the Queen, he's done it all". National Post. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  2. ^ MacFarlane, John M. "Biographical data". Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "Reorganization - the page cannot be displayed".
  4. ^ a b Coutts, Ian (August 6, 2022). "Legendary Canadian Veteran Richard Rohmer, 98, On His Unique Bond With Queen Elizabeth II". Zoomer. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  5. ^ "Reorganization - the page cannot be displayed".
  6. ^ Rohmer, Richard (2004). Generally Speaking: The Memoirs of Major-General Richard Rohmer. Dundurn. pp. 249–251, 257. ISBN 9781550025187. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Rohmer, Richard (2004). Generally Speaking: The Memoirs of Major-General Richard Rohmer. Dundurn. pp. 275–317. ISBN 9781550025187. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  8. ^ Hopper, Tristin (September 1, 2016). "The grandiose — but failed — 1960s plan by an Ontario war hero to settle a 'second Canada' below the Arctic". National Post. Retrieved August 29, 2022.
  9. ^ "Law Professionals".
  10. ^ "Richard Rohmer". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  11. ^ Fitzgerald, John (September 15, 1979). "He knows the critics hate his books". Montreal Gazette. p. 82. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Rohmer, Richard (2004). Generally Speaking: The Memoirs of Major-General Richard Rohmer. Dundurn Press Ltd. pp. 254, 249–250, 255. ISBN 9781550025187.
  13. ^ "OAPC EMS Matters, Winter 2012/2013
  14. ^ "Mary Olivia Rohmer Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information".
  15. ^ "Air Force to fly over Collingwood hospital in honour of The General's 100th birthday". CTV News. January 24, 2024.
  16. ^ "Recipients". June 11, 2018.
  17. ^ "Recipients". June 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "Recipients". June 11, 2018.
  19. ^ "Recipients". June 11, 2018.
  20. ^ "Rohmer named Honorary Chief of Toronto Police". Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin. April 6, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  21. ^ O'Connor, Joe (February 2, 2015). "Meet the most interesting Canadian: From fighting Nazis to chaperoning the Queen, he's done it all". National Post. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  22. ^ "Honorary degrees conferred (Chronological)" (PDF). University of Windsor. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  23. ^ "Honorary LL.Ds". Archived from the original on June 14, 2011.
  24. ^ "Royal Military College of Canada 104th Convocation / 104ième Collation des Grades".

External links edit