Retired major general auctions off a lifetime of military memorabilia
Published Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:01PM EDT
Following the death of his wife earlier this year, one of Canada’s most decorated soldiers is auctioning off a lifetime’s worth of possessions, including a slew of rare military memorabilia.
“I'm giving up any number of things that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would,” retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie told CTV News.
MacKenzie’s wife, Dora, passed away in February. The 78-year-old now plans to move out of the sprawling farmhouse that sits on 78 acres, some 50 kilometres outside of Ottawa, for a condo. Staying on the property he shared with his wife of 51 years, MacKenzie said, is just too painful.
“This was her place and she loved it,” he explained. “The hardest part, by far, is when you’re by yourself.”
MacKenzie spent more than 36 years with the Canadian Armed Forces, serving in places like Germany, the Gaza Strip and Central America. Most famously, he became the first UN commander in war-ravaged Bosnia in 1992.
Nearly 800 lots are up for sale in the online auction, including everything from artwork to copper pots to farm equipment to a vintage sports car (MacKenzie has long been a racing enthusiast).
Of particular interest, though, are items collected by MacKenzie during his long military career, such as a baby blue UN peacekeeper’s helmet, military uniforms and combat clothing, army badges, honorary plaques, the first UN flag to be hoisted over Sarajevo, a pair of flak jackets and even several artillery shell casings.
Friends had told the former general to wait a year before doing anything major like this -- common advice for widowers that he chose to ignore.
“They say what you shouldn’t do is be impulsive,” he said. “And any number of people could call this impulsive.”
Several other items have been donated to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Others, like a flak jacket he wore in Bosnia when he was promoted to a two star general, are just too personal to part with.
“It’s the one thing I’m holding onto of military significance,” MacKenzie said. “(I am) probably the first general officer promoted in an operational theatre under fire, since World War Two.”
The online auction, which is being run by MacLean & Associates Inc., ends on the night of July 10.
With a report from CTV News parliamentary correspondent Kevin Gallagher