Mary McPherson

Mary McPherson is 22 years old, born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and a member of the Couchiching First Nation. She is studying at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, and is a graduate of Lakehead University. She has a long standing passion for art and recently had the opportunity to design the Royal Canadian Mint’s silver 20 dollar coin that marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Scheldt.

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Mary McPherson

The coin shows a Canadian Ojibwa in action in the fall of 1944. It features the insignia of the First Canadian Army and the image of an infantryman armed with a Bren gun advancing past a tower windmill. The Scheldt River is visible in the background.

An artist at heart, Mary was inspired by her late uncle, Rifleman Rudolph McPherson. Rudolph served with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles during the Second World War as an artillery spotter, and used the Ojibwa language through radio communications during various battles. Rudolph’s vast knowledge of the Ojibwa language was instrumental to his fellow comrades.

Mary notes that “at the time of his service, Rudolph was treated differently than other Canadians because he was considered a Status Indian – and although Rudolph’s role during the Second World War revolved around the Ojibwa language, his family did not have the same rights as other Canadians, and his siblings were being put through the residential school system.”

“Rudolph gave his life to fight for the good of humanity.”

Rudolph McPherson was killed in action during the Battle of Calais on 27 September 1944, just days before the beginning of the Battle of the Scheldt.

Recently, Mary had the opportunity to visit her uncle Rudolph’s grave in the Calais Canadian War Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France. Mary was accompanied by her father for the trip to France. This was an especially emotional moment for him. Unfortunately, Rudolph died before his younger brother was born and they never had the chance to meet one another. The trip reminded Mary that “Rudolph gave his life to fight for the good of humanity.”

“The coin is an expression of bravery, but also anticipation – anticipation that the Canadian First Army must have experienced.”
The Royal Canadian Mint’s silver 20 dollar coin that marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Scheldt.

The Royal Canadian Mint’s silver 20 dollar coin that marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Scheldt.

As seen in the central theme of the coin’s design, Mary took much of her inspiration from Rudolph’s experience during the Second World War.

“The coin is an expression of bravery, but also anticipation – anticipation that the Canadian First Army must have experienced. I wanted to capture this, so I drew inspiration from my uncle, and based the image on him.”

Overall, Mary found that designing the coin was a great experience. “I really appreciated the opportunity to participate in the design process. It was a real honour, and communicating with my dad throughout the process was really important. The whole experience has taught me a lot.”

Mary McPherson is this week’s Face of Freedom, an example of a new generation of Canadians who continue to commemorate and honour the sacrifices of Canadian Veterans, both past and present. The actions of those Veterans have allowed us to lead the life we do today – strong and free.


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