Veterans Services Team Blog #7
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Sgt Ret Al Kowalenko OMC

By: Sgt Al Kowalenko, OMC (Retd)

48th Veterans Services Coordinator

Spring greetings to our 48th Highlanders veterans of all eras, Active Battalion, and members of our extended Regimental Family.

This year will be one of major changes for the Regiment….a new RSM….a new Honorary Colonel…and a new Commanding Officer….all to happen in 2024!

Below are our current updates:


The annual “Act of Remembrance” Service (formerly known as the “Regimental Church Parade”) of the 48th Highlanders of Canada will be held on Sunday, April 21st, 10:30-12 noon, at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (73 Simcoe St and King St West), Toronto.

This year at the Service, there will also be the official “Change of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)” from CWO Chris Reesor, CD to CWO Matthew French, CD (formerly of the Queen’s York Rangers). Afterwards, there will be a reception in the Great Hall of the Church.

We encourage all our 48th veterans who served with RSM (CWO) Chris Reesor during his time in the Regiment to attend and bid him a fond farewell as he assumes his new duties at the 32BG Battle School. 

RSM Chris Reesor on parade

Also, we would like to welcome the new RSM (CWO) Matthew French to our 48th Regimental Family and trust that he will carry on the great history and traditions of Regiment in the challenging times ahead.

CWO French Formal portrait


OCA Group photo 11 Nov 2023

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) currently serves more than 200,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans and their survivors.  The total CAF veterans in Canada that were counted at the last federal government census (2021) was in the 460,000 range. 

The majority of our Canadian WWII and Korean War veterans have now passed and have been replaced in large numbers by our Cold War veterans who served from 1954-1990.

For all veterans, VAC services are wide ranging and include mental and physical health support, financial programs, education and jobs (post service), housing, and caregivers. They also have a VAC Funeral and Burial Program (delivered by the Last Post Fund for those veterans qualifying via a means test. More info is at

48th veterans: we are here to assist you with any of the above, including your initial contacts with VAC. Please call our Veterans Services Team at 416-219-4967 or email and we will be glad to help you with your requirements or direct you to the right contacts.

If you wish to connect with VAC directly, their website is at or call toll free 1-866-522-2122 to speak with a live agent to open up a VAC personal file.

There is also VAC psychological support service available 24/7 at toll free 1-800-268-7708.

The most asked question we get at 48th Veterans Services is “Who qualifies as a Veteran in Canada?” The answer is provided by the VAC definition which has been in place the past two decades:

“A veteran is any former member of Canadian Armed Forces (Regular or Reserves) who successfully underwent basic training and was honorably discharged.”

For those who qualify, VAC is able to assist you with support for conditions such as hearing loss, tinnitus, vision loss, joint injuries, prosthetics, and occupational stress injuries (formerly PTSD).  If you can prove your injuries were due to your military service, VAC does provide financial compensation and ongoing support.

Please contact us if you have any questions about whether you qualify for VAC assistance and what documentation you will need.


For the past few years, the 48th Highlanders Museum staff has been diligently interviewing both current and former 48th members and veterans about their experiences in the Regiment. 

These interviews have also included family members who have provided stories about their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and cousins who have served with the 48th in WWI, WWII, and Korea, as well as in modern Peacekeeping, Balkan conflicts, and Afghanistan.

The Museum staff conducts these interviews in an informal fashion and they can be done either at the 48th Museum or at your residence, as required.

To book an interview appointment, please contact Mr. Peter Olsen (48th Museum staff) at 617-774-5164 or email  

Help the Museum record your Regimental story for the benefit of future generations!


As many of our veterans and Regimental Family members will remember, we lost one of our last two 48th WWII veterans – Captain Norm Gogo, CD – this past January, 2024, at the age of 102. (Our last WWII veteran is now MWO George Maclean who turned 104 this past February!)

Norm was one of our most popular WWII veterans and, over the years, participated in numerous Regimental events such as the Pachino Day Parades in July and the Remembrance ceremonies in November via the 48th Old Comrades Association (OCA).


As well, Norm was a great story teller and had numerous anecdotes about his times during WWII with both the 48thHighlanders and the Royal Canadian Signals Corps. 

He was also well liked by his all his friends in Holland when he used to go to the WWII celebrations in the Netherlands every five years. Norm was part of the “Liberation of Holland” in 1945 and the Dutch people have always treated him and our 48th veterans from that era with great thanks and kindness.

a photo of Norm Gogo at a veteran even with other veterans

Here are the details about Capt Norm Gogo’s “Celebration of Life” service:

DATE: Saturday, May 25th, 2024        

LOCATION: Lakeview Cemetery, 655 King St, Midland, Ontario, from 1:30-2:30 pm

RECEPTION: Royal Canadian Legion Branch #80, 196 Queen Street, Midland, Ontario, from 2:30-5:00 pm.

All 48th veterans, Active Battalion, and Regimental Family members are welcome to attend Norm’s service. The family is anticipating a large turnout for the event as Norm was very popular in Midland, and neighboring Penetang where he lived recently for many years.

He was also a long-time member and supporter of the local Legion branches, the Lion’s Club, and a good friend of the area firefighters. (Norm was a former firefighter in Toronto after  WWII, from1945-80, becoming a Captain and later, District Chief.)

We look forward to seeing a strong 48th representation in Midland on May 25th for what promises to be a great celebration of a very popular WWII veteran!


At present, the 48th Highlanders have two veterans who are now long term residents of the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto:

Sgt Oswald Reece, CD (Retd) has been a resident since last September and is located in Room 8 at K2W wing. He welcomes visitors and can be reached at 647-381-4125 to arrange a time. As well, Ozzie would like to see 48th veterans from his era (1975-2008) to share stories and talk old times.

Capt Bruce Beaton, CD (Retd) has been a resident at Sunnybrook for several years. He was recently relocated to Room 74 at L2 wing. Visits for Bruce are limited. Please contact our Veterans Services Team for more information.


(Includes 48th Association Drill Team Events/Festivals This Summer)

  • April 21: “Act of Remembrance Parade” and Change of RSM (St Andrew’s Church)

  • May 25: “Celebration of Life” for Capt Norm Gogo, CD (Midland, Ontario)

  • TBA: Change of Honorary Colonel from HCol John MacIntyre to new HCol Sasha Darling… (Date not yet confirmed.)

  • June 15: Georgetown Highland Games

  • June 22: Cobourg Scottish Festival and Highland Games 

  • July 10: Pachino Day Parade (WWII Landing in Sicily 1943) at Belleville Armouries

  • July 20: Orillia Scottish Festival

  • August 17: Warriors Day Parade (CNE Toronto)

  • October 25: 48th Change of Command Parade from LCol Jason Morische to new CO, LCol Tyler Wentzell  (Moss Park Amoury)

  • October 26: 48th WO/Sgts Mess Dinner (Moss Park Armoury) (NB – Restricted to past and present WOs and Sgts)

  • November 9: 48th Mount Pleasant Remembrance Parade and Luncheon

  • November 10: Remembrance Day Parade (48th Regimental Monument, Queen’s Park)

  • November 11: Remembrance Day (Monday) –Toronto City Hall Service (Optional)

  • May 2025: 48th Contingent Trip to Holland (celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the end of WWII).  More details to follow later this year. Open to all 48th past and serving members.

(NOTE: If you have other 48th events to publicize this year, please forward the information and we will have it distributed through the 48th Regimental Association.)


Sgt Al Kowalenko, OMC (Retd), 48th Veterans Services Coordinator

48th Highlanders Regimental Association


Cell: 416-219-4967 (message service available 24/7)


Note: Previous Blogs of the Veterans Services Team are available on the 48th website under the link “Veterans Services” at the bottom of the Home Page.. Blog #1 contains details of the various areas we are able to help 48th veterans and their families.

Currently, we have various volunteers who assist with our Veterans Services Team network. They are all 48th veterans who are pleased to discuss a variety of veterans’ issues and ways to obtain help, as required.

We thank all our veterans for your ongoing support of our Veterans/Regimental events and activities this year!


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