CBC Digital Archives

WW II attack on B.C. coast

On a rainy November morning in 1858, before an audience of 100 dignitaries in the trading post of Fort Langley, Governor James Douglas read aloud the short proclamation that officially created the colony of British Columbia. British Columbia grew from a far-off destination for gold-seekers and fur traders to a strong and vibrant part of a united Canada, famed for its natural beauty - hence the provincial motto, Splendor sine Occasu ("Splendour without diminishment"). The CBC Digital Archives celebrates B.C.'s sesquicentennial with a look at the people and the events that have shaped its history.

On June 20, 1942, the Second World War hits home for British Columbians as enemy shells fall on Canadian soil for the first time since the War of 1812. A Japanese submarine surfaces off Vancouver Island and fires on the lighthouse at Estevan Point... or so the official story goes. In this 1995 report, The Fifth Estate explores some vexing questions around the attack on Estevan Point, including whether it was just an elaborate hoax engineered by one of Canada's most cunning prime ministers.

• This was not the only time enemy bombs fell on Canadian soil during the Second World War. Between 1944-45, Japan launched more than 9,000 balloon bombs at parts of the Pacific Northwest. Bombs landed in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, as well as many U.S. states. The only recorded casualties were a mother and five children in Oregon in May 1945.

• The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which guest Donald Graham refers to, was a pair of alleged naval clashes between American and North Vietnamese ships in 1964 that led to U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. The incident involved two separate attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on American ships, although records declassified by the U.S. National Security Agency in 2005 indicate the attacks never actually happened.

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: Jan. 17, 1995
Guest(s): Donald Graham, Robert Lalley Jr., Mynah Peete, Michael Whitby
Reporter: Linden MacIntyre
Duration: 17:39

Last updated: February 1, 2012

Page consulted on March 28, 2012

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