Treasures Of Canada

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A black hole tore apart a star that got too close. Alek Minassian's police interview released. Girl says boys restrained her, cut her dreadlocks. It is the story of a long conspiratorial conflict for the possession of a trove of priceless relics in the course of which foreign agents have shadowed each other through the streets of Ottawa, and trucks laden with riches have headed into the night for secret hideaways.

Famous Canadian statesmen, trying to extricate themselves from the embarrassing alien broil, have only sunk deeper under the weight of their own equivocations. Two Communist diplomats trying to practice on Canadian soil the roughshod tactics common to iron-curtain countries have been thwarted in their purpose by the ingenuity of their own anti-Communist countrymen, by the passive resistance of Canadian monks and nuns and by a spectacular political move by a Quebec premier. And the chief of a provincial police force has given the plot a droll twist by hoodwinking the RCMP in a street-corner game of cops and robbers.

Below the bizarre surface of this chronicle, however, there run currents that are far from lighthearted. Toward the end of the war, when Canada repudiated the London Poles and recognized the new Communist Warsaw Poles, the question of which group should be given custody of the treasures became delicate and debatable. The London Poles preserved a political structure which stands today, which they still maintain is the only constitutional administration of their country, and which, they say, has the right to submit its claim for retention of the treasures to international arbitration.

The Warsaw Poles, who have been in power for eight years, assert that they alone now represent the Polish state and are the sole authorities invested with the right to recover and care for its historic and artistic museum pieces.

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Each of the two sides has its supporters among Canadians of different race, politics and religion. When the dispute began in this fact weighed heavily on the minds of the Liberal Federal Government in Ottawa. The late Mackenzie King, perhaps fearing he might only anger both factions if he took any decisive action himself, contended that only an international court could decide on the proper disposal of the disputed treasures. The envoys of the Warsaw Poles in Ottawa attempted to wrest them physically from the envoys of the London Poles.

The struggle was long, cunning and bitter. It was brought to a precipitate end by the unexpected intervention of Prime Minister Maurice Duplessis of Quebec. That was five years ago. The struggle has since been half forgotten but it has not relented. And the whole affair has given Communist propagandists a perpetual excuse for labeling the Canadian state as a thief and left Western countries, who are friendly with Canada but unversed in her political complexities, puzzled or critical.

To isolate the facts from the propagandist halftruths and outright lies is not easy. None of the parties to the dispute is anxious to expose the full record. The London Poles who are content with the present impasse will say nothing that might tend to break it. The Warsaw Poles hand out reams of printed matter which leaves the reader in no doubt that they find an advantage in the prolongation of the argument.

And Duplessis, the Quebec nationalist, hangs onto the bulk of the treasures in the happy knowledge that his enemies at Ottawa would only strengthen his own position if ever they dared order him to give them up. To comprehend fully the motives of all involved in this murky tangle it is necessary to go back to the beginning. When the Germans invaded the Republic of Poland on Sept.

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The most important of these were exhibited in the Wawel Royal Castle, at Cracow. Some of the treasures belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, some to Polish noblemen and some to the nation. All, however, were held in trust by the state. Among other ancient weapons was the jeweled sword, scabbard and belt presented by Pope Innocent XI to the great Polish warrior Jan Sobieski, and a third sword seized by Sobieski as a prize of war from the Turks. The objets d'art included two gold clocks, a gold coffee set, an exquisite Turkish dinner service, jeweled batons of legendary Polish commanders, helmets, sabres and shields, three suits of armor richly engraved, and fifteen caparisons for war horses ornamented in gold, silver and precious stones.

Most valuable of all were one hundred and thirty-six tapestries woven in the Middle Ages, many from gold and silver thread, all of them matchless in their class. Swierz-Zaleski was a dark-haired medium-sized man of about sixty with a blank red face, a mustache and negligent habits of dress.

Secret Treasures

He was a sensitive and capable painter. He was notoriously timid and pliant and very mean with money. Polkowski was a well-built, tall, clean-shaven and meticulously dressed Pole, a blond in his fifties who loved outdoor life. He had a strong taciturn personality and for some years had borne with dignity the affliction of a large tumor behind his right ear. By barge, horse-drawn wagon and army truck the two professors moved the thirty-five crates of treasure through Rumania to the Black Sea and. When the Germans plunged into France in the summer of the Polish government, now functioning in exile from London, ordered Swierz-Zaleski and Polkowski to load the treasures aboard the Polish ship Batory and accompany them to Canada.

In July , two months after the fall of France, the Canadian Department of External Affairs, at the request of Victor Podoski, London Polish Consul-General in Canada, gave orders that the treasures should be admitted without customs inspection and made arrangements to give them storage space in the Dominion Experimental Farm at Ottawa. It never asked for an inventory of the treasures. It also departed from customary international practice in such cases by informing the London Poles it could accept no responsibility for the safety of the treasures. All went well until July 16, , when the Canadian government, in common with the British and U.

Automatically recognition of the London Poles was withdrawn and Waclaw Babinski and the whole of the London Polish legation and consular staffs were deprived of official status. The new development also left their right to remain in possession of the treasures highly questionable. The Canadian government could have assumed the guardianship of the treasures until such time as their proper disposal could be legally agreed. But it wished to stand clear of contention and decided to take no action. In the opinion of Babinski the Communist Warsaw Poles had imposed themselves on their countrymen with the aid of the Russian Army and with characteristic contempt for the secret ballot.

Babinski anticipated that as soon as representatives of the Warsaw Poles arrived in Ottawa they would seize the treasures without admitting London Polish claims to the right of arbitration.

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On the grounds that some of the treasures belonged to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cracow, Babinski was able to enlist the sympathy of Canadian Catholic clergy who used their influence to find him two caches. The two professors hid some, of the treasures in the basement of the Convent of the Precious Blood, on Bank Street, Ottawa, and some in the cellars of the Redemptorist Monastery at Ste.

They also deposited, under joint signature, two full steamer trunks in the vaults of the Ottawa branch of the Bank of Montreal. Only a few of the treasures still remained at the Experimental Farm when representatives of the Warsaw Poles reached Ottawa in the fall of The Canadian government was unaware that any had been removed. The first minister for the Warsaw Poles was an old Communist campaigner, Alfred Fiderkiewicz, a lean, bald man with bushy eyebrows and a stony face.

As Babinski had expected, Fiderkiewicz immediately began rooting around for the treasures without resort to diplomatic formality. He summoned Swierz-Zaleski and Polkowski and demanded to know where the treasures were. At this time neither of the professors talked. But sometime during the winter of Swierz-Zaleski began to come under the influence of the Warsaw Poles. By the spring of , however, he had still not revealed the hiding places, and Fiderkiewicz sought official assistance from the Canadian government.

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On May 16, , he complained to the Department of External Affairs that some of the treasures were missing from the Experimental Farm. The facts suggest that External Affairs got into a flurry during which it committed a rash act.

Canada’s great lost treasures still waiting to be found

It disclaimed all Canadian responsibility for the treasures yet tacitly admitted an obligation to Poland for their safety by ordering a new lock to he fixed on the storeroom doors at the Experimental Farm. Fiderkiewicz became more insistent. By June 21, , it was clear that Swierz-Zaleski had talked for on that day the Warsaw Poles made a stronger communication to External Affairs. Diplomatically the situation was now red-hot but still no news leaked out to the Press. External Affairs reminded Fiderkiewicz that Canada had never undertaken the safekeeping of the treasures.

In a note to the Warsaw Poles, External Affairs told them that the bank acknowledged possession of some j treasures. In the same note was a I further paragraph in which External I Affairs abandoned its professed neuI trality. This paragraph suggested that the Warsaw Poles should remove those treasures which remained at the Experimental Farm. Here was an admission that Canada officially agreed with Warsaw Polish claims to the treasures. But it was an admission which later the government had reason to regret.

Soak it up this spring through May Summertime ushers in a flood of visitors, so planning your trip in advance is recommended.

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A must-see attraction is the majestic Lake Minnewanka, about 20 minutes north of town. Grab a bike and enjoy the Banff Legacy Trail, a The trail is best enjoyed from mid-April through October. One of the best places to view wildlife and birds, the Vermillion Lakes are just outside of town and have a scenic trail around the wetlands area. Just up the road from Banff, the village of Lake Louise is another landmark worthy of a full day. During winter, Lake Louise is home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America.

The small town is near its namesake lake, which is a must-see attraction. From Lake Louise, take a short trip to Moraine Lake to witness the famous blue-green waters surrounded by the towering Valley of the Ten Peaks. A cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent mounted on a raised wooden floor, these fun, family units offer two queen-sized beds and one double-sized bed. There are 10 oTENTiks — 19 by 24 feet wide and large enough for up to six people — available to reserve online from late May through mid-September.

Kitchen supplies, such as pots, pans and cutlery, are available to rent. Guided tours are offered to showcase the bubbling mineral waters and architecture that inspired the national parks in Canada. The history dates back to , when three railway workers stumbled upon the site and turned it into a well-known refuge.

This year-round paradise is also home to Rogers Pass, a high mountain route maneuvering through the Selkirk Mountains and providing passage for the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans-Canada Highway. It was discovered in as a key pathway through the wilderness and is now a National Historic Site in Canada. The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, which includes a museum, is a great destination to learn about the rich history of the area and surrounding scenery.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Glacier Park is its propensity to attract deep powder. The park straddles the Selkirk Range, which is known for its legendary steep lines and snow stashes. Backcountry ski touring is a popular pastime here, and visitors have a large playground of thrilling terrain, including glades, alpine bowls and icefields with descents spanning as far as 4, feet.