||April 25, 2008
Local Man in New Book
on Spanish Civil War
Last week I was reading a review chapter in the
National Post of a new book on those 1500 Canadians that fought in the Spanish
Civil War (1936-37). As I read the sample chapter I saw the name Jules
Paivio, formerly of Mattawa. Jules clearly came
across in the article as a highly principled man who put his life on the line.
The book is Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War. UBC Press in
association with the Canadian War Museum.
Cover of Renegades: Canadians in Spanish Civil
One story from the Post article tells of 15 men
including Jules being lined up to be executed when an Italian Commander came by
and decided to use them in exchange for Italian prisoners. Jules spent a year
in a POW camp. When I tried to get him on the phone at
Finlandia Village in Sudbury I had no luck and then
discovered in a Sudbury newspaper article that 93 year old Jules was at the War
Museum at the book launch that day.
Photo of some of the Mackenzie-Papineau
Battalion with banner that reads "Fascism will be destroyed". Library and
In previous articles on Mattawa and
Cameron Township in Community Voices I have made reference to Jules
Paivio the Finish architect who retired to live near
the many Finns in Cameron. He was the architect of the beautiful log Mattawa
Museum. While I was curator there in the late 80s he was active in its
development. He was present at the 20th anniversary of the Museum's opening in
2005 and we had a visit. Suoma
Luoma, Jules' wife's sister sparked the interest in a display on the
Cameron Finns, which is now part of their permanent collection and Jules was at
Some Finns clearly had socialist tendencies and
for example Cameron Township had two meeting halls, one for the
socialist political people and one for the more conservative side. I also knew
that Jules Paivio took a strong socialist stand when
he was a teenager in Sudbury and volunteered as a part of a group of 1,500
Canadians who supported the elected Spanish government against rising fascism in
1936 as a part of the Macdonald-Papineau Battalion.
They joined thousands of others to fight the German and Italian fascists. The
Spanish government later offered all of the volunteers
Spanish citizenship in honour of their help.
Paivio to left of Suoma
Luoma in wheelchair at opening of Cameron Finns
display at Mattawa Museum. D. Mackey photo.
There is some excellent material online under”
Jules Paivio” who 70 years later is one of the few
remaining volunteers. It is interesting to note that the Canadian Government
did not support the volunteers and they have never received any pension or
compensation. Many lost their lives. Some Legions refused to recognize them.
There is clear evidence that the Finns volunteers
were not radical socialists but they were kept under surveillance by the RCMP
until 1984. The RCMP raided the Cameron Hall at one time. When Jules joined
the army in WWII they would not send him overseas because of his so called
radical past and he became an instructor at Petawawa.See
Macleans April 2008 for details.
Jules as President of an Association of Veterans &
Friends of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion was one
of three Finns at the unveiling of a memorial to the group in
Ottawa in 2001. 52 Stainless Steel panels list the 1546 Canadian Volunteers.
Other memorials have been built in Vancouver and Toronto. Michael
Petrou the author who writes for
Macleans got access to Russian archives in 1990 and
put the book together for current publication.
Jules insists that what he did was a matter of
principle and he has no regrets. He loves the book except for the title. He
does not consider himself to be a renegade. For more information on this
remarkable story get a copy of the book at your local library or
bookstore. You can also get further info online at
Heritage Perspective Home Page