Weaponry and Wartime Experience


Major-General George R. Pearkes

George R. Pearkes was born in 1888 in England, where he received his education and officer training. In Canada when the Great War broke out, he enlisted as a private in the Canadian military and quickly regained his officer status. During the celebrated Battle of Passchendaele, Pearkes earned the Victoria Cross. By war's end he had earned two more coveted decorations. After 1918 he remained in the small Canadian permanent army.

In December 1939 Pearkes sailed to England as a brigadier and in 1940 became a major general. In September 1942 he returned to Canada to take over Pacific Command. When he left this position in 1945 he joined the Progressive Conservative Party and entered politics. In June 1957 he was named minister of defence and quickly concluded that the NORAD agreement had to be accepted, a decision the outgoing Liberal government would likely have made itself had it remained in power.

In 1960 Pearkes was appointed lieutenant governor of British Columbia, a position he would occupy until his retirement in 1968.

One of the buildings that house the NDHQ in the Ottawa-Hull region bears his name. George R. Pearkes passed away in 1984.