'Wait For Me, Daddy' subject revisits spot of iconic WW II photo

'Wait For Me, Daddy' subject revisits spot of iconic WW II photo

More than 70 years after dashing out toward his father as he marched off to the Second World War, Warren (Whitey) Bernard has revisited the B.C. street corner where the iconic image was taken.

The photo, dubbed Wait For Me, Daddy, was captured on Oct. 1, 1940, in New Westminster, B.C. by Vancouver Daily Province photographer Claude Dettloff and became one of the most famous photographs in Canadian history.

The little blond boy in the photograph was the five-year-old Bernard, who broke free from his mother Bernice's grasp as his father, Pte. Jack Bernard, marched down Eighth Street, heading off to war with the B.C. Regiment.

Bernard, now aged 79, lives in Tofino but returned to New Westminster for a dinner in his honour. Revisiting the scene, he says he can still recall the day he made a break for it — and his mother's emotions.

"She was pretty upset because I guess over here the soldiers were all milling around and everybody was saying goodbye — and then they were heading for the ship."

The photo made the next day's morning paper, but not long after it was featured across North America, including an October issue of Life magazine. It was eventually hung in every school in B.C. during the war.

Although it will always be a touching statement on war and family, for the young boy, it became much more than that.

While his father's regiment ended up being stationed in Nanaimo, B.C., for more training before eventually heading off to fight in Europe, Bernard and his mother got by on a modest income in their rented Vancouver home.

During the summers of 1943 and 1944, the young boy joined a touring group that travelled the province encouraging people to buy war bonds to support the soldiers fighting abroad.

Now, Bernard is donating his memorabilia from 74 years ago to the local museum.

"I think the right thing to do is to have the stuff archived properly in the city where the picture was taken."

Rob McCullough, with the New Westminster Cultural Services Department, said Bernard's story resonates with people around the world.

"Emotions such as love, separation of family, the relationship between a father and son are things that are cross-cultural," said McCullough.

"And, by bringing those things into our museum we can then begin to tell the stories of people who lived in our community or impacted our community in some way."

Bernard said that for him, the war ended when his dad came home safely, but he wants to ensure the memory of it is never forgotten by generations to come.

The City of New Westminster is also commemorating the iconic photo with a monument to be located in the exact location near the intersection of Eighth Street and Columbia Street where the photograph was taken.

The monument will feature three statues depicting the boy and his parents, created by Canadian Edwin Dam deNogales and his Spanish wife, Veronica, out of their studio in Barcelona.

The city plans an unveiling later this year, followed by a re-enactment of the soldiers' march in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.