Volunteer of the Week: Van Rensalaier Chase Junior

Van Rensalaier Chase Junior was a volunteer from Calgary, Alberta. He worked as a sailor, currier, janitor, and as a party organizer in the Communist Party. He arrived in Spain in June 1937, where he served in many units including as a telephonist. He was taken prisoner during the retreats, but was freed in a prisoner exchange in October 1938. He travelled to the United States. He was initially rejected by the United States Army because of his health, then joined the Merchant Marine and served during World War II. He died in 1985 in Los Angeles, California.

Volunteers of the Week

In recognition of our essential workers, we have two volunteers to feature this week. Ray Harris

First: Ray Harris, a Russian-Canadian nurse. Harris was born in Russia in October 1910. After moving to Palestine sometime during her childhood, Harris's family moved to Winnipeg, where her father owned a small candy factory. Eventually moving to New York City, Harris studied to become a nurse, graduating in 1933. 

Volunteer of the Week: Gerald Charles Shea

Our Volunteer of the Week is Gerald Charles Shea, an Irish Canadian who fought in the Spanish Civil War. He lived all over Canada, from Vancouver, BC to Glace Bay, NS, working as a miner, logger, fisherman, and cowhand. He was a member of the Communist Party, the Relief Project Workers’ Union, and the Vancouver Sports Club. He participated in the On to Ottawa Trek. Shea served in many roles in Spain, including as clerk, corporal, and company party secretary. He was reported MIA and later hospitalized, but he survived the war and returned to Canada in February 1939.

Volunteer of the Week: Earl Rose

Earl Rose was a volunteer who lived in both South Dakota and northern Alberta before fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Rose had a military history: he fought in the First World War and served with the RCMP. He also spoke Cree, but it is unclear if he was Cree. He was an older volunteer: he was 50 years old when he sailed for Spain.

Volunteer of the Week - Reino Keto

From the RGASPI fonds.

The volunteer of the week is Reino Keto! Born in Laihia, Finland on March 20, 1908, Keto immigrated to Canada in May 1930. Keto served with the Finnish Army for a year during the 1920s, and worked as a bricklayer, on a farm, in restaurants, and as a gymnastics teacher in Canada. His file notes he lived in Fort William, Toronto, and Worthington, Ontario, and that he was transient for a time. He was involved in sports organizations and, like so many other Finnish-Canadians, joined the Communist Party in 1930.


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