British Columbia

Iconic WW II photo to be immortalized in sculpture

An iconic photo of a little boy dashing out toward his father as he marches off to war is going to be immortalized on the B.C. street corner where it was taken more than 70 years ago.

'Wait For Me, Daddy' became one of Canada's most famous war images

Image shows child saying goodbye to father 2:48

An iconic photo of a little boy dashing out toward his father as he marches off to war is going to be immortalized on the B.C. street corner where it was taken more than 70 years ago.  

The image dubbed Wait For Me, Daddy became one of the most famous photographs in Canadian history.

The boy in the photograph was five-year-old Warren (Whitey) Bernard, who still remembers the day in the fall of 1940 when the B.C. Regiment marched down 8th Street in New Westminster, B.C., as they headed off to war.

      1 of 0

      "I wanted to go with Dad. I wanted to be with Dad. I guess I had it in my mind that this was it," Bernard told CBC News from his home in Tofino, B.C.

      Vancouver Daily Province photographer Claude Dettloff snapped the image of the little blond boy breaking free from his mother Bernice's grasp as his father, Pte. Jack Bernard, marched by.

      "From what I understand from the photographer, he was trying to get a picture of how many soldiers there were, but then this kid made the getaway," said Bernard.  

      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.

      And while 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 being stationed in Nanaimo, B.C., for more training before eventually heading off to fight in Europe, Whitey and his mother got by on a modest income in their rented Vancouver home.

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

      Recently at his home in Tofino, Whitey pulled out an original copy of his speech, now yellowed with time, and read the opening lines.

      "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to show you a picture of my daddy who left for overseas more than three years ago. You'll see me in the picture too. I was just about five then."

      Spanish artists commissioned to create sculpture

      Now the City of New Westminster is planning to commemorate the iconic photo with a monument to be located in the exact location near the intersection of 8th Street and Columbia Street where the photograph was taken almost 73 years ago.

      Details are being kept under wraps, but CBC has learned it will feature three statues depicting the boy and his parents.

      The artists commissioned to create the work are a husband-and-wife team, Edwin and Veronica Dam de Nogales. Edwin is Canadian, and Veronica is Spanish.

      The couple has a studio in Highgate, Ont., but they are casting the project in their studio in Barcelona, Spain, where they have the necessary equipment.

      "The challenge is to re-create a work that is as powerful as the photograph, but in the sense that we're re-addressing it into a new time period," Edwin told CBC News.

      Edwin and Veronica Dam de Nogales have already started work on the sculpture in Barcelona, Spain. (CBC)

      The city plans an unveiling in 2014, followed by a re-enactment of the soldiers' march in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, according to Coun. Lorrie Williams.

      "We want to try to get the whole area declared a historic site, because there are not many military historic sites on the West Coast."  

      As for Whitey Bernard, his father Jack came home when the war ended, and photographer Claude Dettloff was there to capture the reunion. Jack lived to see his son become the mayor of Tofino.  

      Now Whitey's looking forward to the day that a special moment in all their lives is immortalized forever.

      "It's the picture that has the emotion. It happened just like you see it," he says. 

      With files from CBC reporter Belle Puri