The Government of Canada Honours William H. Wilson and the late Paris K. Sahlen as Hometown Heroes

News release

June 6, 2022                              Calgary, Alberta                             Parks Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to sharing the stories of the people, places, and events that contributed to our country’s rich and diverse heritage, including commemorating the 77th anniversary of the Second World War in 2022.

On Saturday, June 4th, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, paid tribute to William H. Wilson and the late Paris K. Sahlen, through Parks Canada’s Hometown Heroes program. The commemorative ceremony was held in Calgary at the Military Museums in the presence of dignitaries and family members.


Captain (N) (ret’d) William H. Wilson, OMM, CStJ, AEO, MSM, CD

William H. Wilson is an Officer of the Order of Military Merit and is known to his community in Calgary as “Mr. Navy”. Highlights of his remarkable naval background include service as an anti-aircraft gunner on HMCS Ottawa at D-Day in 1944, Commanding Officer of HMCS York naval reserve unit in Toronto and appointments as Honorary Captain (N) of the First Canadian Submarine Squadron at Halifax and Honorary Captain (N), West Coast Maritime Operations Group 4. Throughout his decades of service, Mr. Wilson has also made exceptional contributions to preserving Canada’s naval history and artifacts for future generations to study and appreciate. His dedication to educating youth was a driving force behind his support for Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and Navy League Cadets and his contributions to the creation of the Naval Museum of Alberta, opened in 1988, and later the Military Museums of Calgary, the largest tri-service museum in Western Canada. He was also instrumental in forging a special bond between the province of Alberta, the City of Calgary and HMCS Calgary.   


Paris K. Sahlen, CD

Paris K. Sahlen left the Navy following a 4-year commitment, but his heart never left the service. He later joined the naval reserve in Calgary as an officer within #22 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, and in this role, had a tremendous impact on many youths. Over a lifetime, his determination to help preserve and promote Canada’s rich naval heritage drew much of his attention. For decades, Mr. Sahlen was a mentor and a leader who devoted his time and energies to fostering connections between veterans, youth, and the Navy. Mr. Sahlen was a key figure in the creation of the Naval Museum of Alberta, and proudly served as unofficial liaison between the new frigate HMCS Calgary (FFH 335), from its 1995 commissioning onward, forging ties across the years and the miles between the ship’s company, its namesake city, and the entire Calgary naval community. Mr. Sahlen passed away in Calgary in December 2018.

William H. Wilson and Paris K. Sahlen join a growing list of Canadians who have been recognized for their contributions to the Canadian Military and for their dedication to help preserve and promote Canada’s naval heritage.

Launched in 2015, the Hometown Heroes program is a national initiative led by Parks Canada that recognizes and commemorates individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements or made outstanding contributions to the Canadian Military and who have a connection or association to places administered by Parks Canada or to the Parks Canada mandate to protect and present Canada’s history and natural heritage. To date, more than 130 Canadians from across the country have been recognized.

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Additional multimedia

Left picture : Wilson Plaque (from left to right) Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Commander, Royal Canadian Navy, Captain (N) (ret’d) William H. Wilson and Ron Hallman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Photo Credit: Parks Canada Right picture: Sahlen Plaque (from left to right) Mrs. Peggy Sahlen, Ron Hallman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada, Captain (N) Janet McDougall, Royal Canadian Navy and Captain (N) Blair Saltel, Royal Canadian Navy Photo Credit: Parks Canada

Quotes

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I’m honoured to recognize William H. Wilson and Paris K. Sahlen as Hometown Heroes for their significant contributions and devotion to preserve and protect Canada’s naval heritage. By sharing the exemplary stories of our Hometown Heroes with Canadians, we express gratitude for their service, and create a proud legacy that Canadians will remember and learn from for generations to come.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

 

“One of Parks Canada’s roles is to be a storyteller of Canada’s rich and diverse heritage through its network of national historic sites and programs like Hometown Heroes. I invite you to learn more about our newest Hometown Heroes, Captain (N) William H. Wilson and Paris K. Sahlen, and the many other Canadians who have been honoured through this commemorative program.”

Ron Hallman
President and Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada

“On behalf of the Royal Canadian Navy, I am extremely pleased that Captain(N) (ret’d) William H. Wilson and Paris K. Sahlen are being honoured as Hometown Heroes. Their military service and invaluable contributions to the RCN over many decades have not only brought generations of Canadians closer to their Navy, but have also boosted the morale of countless sailors. Their achievements are a source of inspiration for our members, and being recognized as Hometown Heroes ensures their legacy will be known to Canadians well into the future.”

Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee
Commander, Royal Canadian Navy

Quick facts

  • The Royal Canadian Navy made William H. Wilson an Honorary Captain in 1992. He also received the Admirals’ Medal in 2008 and the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2013.

  • Paris K. Sahlen received numerous awards, including the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He was also made Honorary Coxswain of HMCS Calgary in April 2018. Paris K. Sahlen passed away on 29 December 2018.

  • The Military Museums of Calgary, Alberta is the largest tri-service museum in Western Canada and the second largest military museum in the country.

  • The Government of Canada is inviting young people and their families to explore Parks Canada places, with free admission for youth aged 17 and under, and to learn more about our country’s history – from lighthouses to battlefields, historic neighbourhoods to Indigenous contributions to Canada, there is an amazing array of stories and places to discover.   

Associated links

Contacts

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca


Media Relations
Department of National Defence
613-904-3333
mlo-blm@forces.gc.ca

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