Richard Rohmer

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Richard Rohmer
Richard Rohmer cropped.jpg
Rohmer speaking at a Remembrance Day ceremony in 2012
Born (1924-01-24) January 24, 1924 (age 92)
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Royal Canadian Air Force
Rank Honorary Lieutenant General
Commands held Chief of Reserves of the Canadian Armed Forces
Commander of the Air Reserve Group
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Officer of the Order of Canada
Commander of the Order of Military Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Order of Ontario
Knight of the Order of Saint John
Canadian Forces Decoration
Officer of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
Legion of Honour (France)
Other work Author, lawyer, columnist

Honorary Lieutenant General Richard Heath Rohmer OC CMM OOnt DFC CD QC (born January 24, 1924) is a Canadian aviator, lawyer, adviser, author and historian.

Rohmer was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and spent some of his early youth in Pasadena, California as well as in western Ontario at Windsor and Fort Erie. The Peterborough Examiner's lead editorial of 14 January 2009 describes Rohmer as "one of Canada's most colourful figures of the past half-century". General Rohmer is the Honorary Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces. He is the Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs for the organization and conduct of Canada's celebration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day celebrations in Normandy in June 2014 and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland in May 2015. He is the senior Canadian Veteran of D-Day, the Battle of Normandy and the Liberation of Holland.

Military career[edit]

He was an unexceptional student in high school and worked briefly at Fleet Aerospace before joining in 1942 on his 18th birthday the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). In Europe in 1943/44 as a reconnaissance pilot flying North American Mustang fighters he completed a 135 mission Tour of Operations at the end of November 1944 in Holland. On July 17th, 1944, he had spotted a fast moving staff car, usually used to carry German officers. In this case, the German officer being carried was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Rohmer reported the car's location to Group Control Centre, which sent in a Spitfire flown by a pilot, Later Identified as Canadian Charley Fox who strafed the target and seriously wounded Rommel. Rohmer took part in D-Day and the Battles of Normandy, Belgium and Holland. He is the Senior Canadian Veteran of all of those Battles.

In 1950 he returned to the RCAF (Reserve), flying Vampire jets and commanding 400 Squadron (City of Toronto) and 411 Squadron (County of York). He retired in 1953 as a Wing Commander.

In 1971 he was appointed Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel (and later Honorary Colonel) of 411 Air Reserve Squadron. In April, 1975 he was promoted to Brigadier-General and appointed Senior Air Reserve Advisor. On 1 April 1976 he was appointed Commander of the newly formed Air Reserve Group. On 31 January 1978 he was promoted to the rank of Major-General and appointed Chief of Reserves. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of Military Merit in December, 1978, and left the military in January 1981.

On 22 December 2014, Major-General (Retired) Rohmer was named Honorary Advisor to the Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defence Staff, a position "...created to recognize MGen (Ret’d) Rohmer’s contributions to the Canadian Armed Forces, and the unique advice and guidance that he provides to the Chief of the Defence Staff, drawing from his wealth of experience in service to Canada".[1]

On 26 June 2015, in his capacity as Honorary Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rohmer was promoted to the rank of Honorary Lieutenant General by the outgoing and incoming Chiefs of the Defence Staff.[2]

Professions[edit]

As the senior lawyer and member of the Ontario Bar Rohmer, who completed his legal studies at Osgoode Hall Law School,[3] is active in a range of legal, veterans' and corporate activities as well as honorary posts in a number of organizations. He is an active senior member of the Toronto law firm of Rohmer & Fenn with a boutique international and national aviation and commercial litigation practice. Called to the Bar in 1951 and Queen's Counsel in 1960, he continues to practice. He was chairman of the 60th anniversary of D-Day celebrations that took place in the presence of the Queen at Juno Beach in Normandy on 6 June 2004. As Ministerial Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs he took part in the planning, preparation and execution of the government's celebration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day at Juno Beach, France, 6 June 2014, and is similarly engaged in the plans for the in-Holland Canadian celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, 5 May 2015. He is the Senior Canadian Veteran of both of those Battles - Normandy and Holland. He co-chaired the Ontario advisory committee that created the Veterans' Memorial unveiled 17 September 2006 in front of the provincial legislature at Queen's Park. He was chair of the Premier's Ceremonial Advisory Committee (2006-2014) and was a ten-year member of the Advisory Council of the Order of Ontario.

Rohmer is the honorary deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, the honorary chief of Toronto Paramedic Services, patron of the Toronto St. John's Ambulance (1978–2007), honorary fire chief of Collingwood, Ontario and Honorary Chief of Toronto Police Service. In 2012, the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs named General Rohmer the first honorary Chief of Paramedics in Ontario.[4]

While living in Toronto in the 1950s, he was heavily involved in the Don Mills Progressive Conservative riding association and, in 1958, he challenged Hollis Edward Beckett, the incumbent Progressive Conservative MPP in the adjacent riding of York East, for the Conservative nomination for the 1959 general election. While the incumbent was successful in being renominated, Rohmer became an advisor to John Robarts during his successful campaign to win the leadership of the PC Party of Ontario and, in so doing, become premier.

During the height of his law practice he was counsel before several administrative tribunals in the land use and transportation fields. His major Official Plan change success occurred in 1972 when as Counsel for CN and CP Railways and their subsidiaries he appeared before the Ontario Municipal Board in a six-week contested hearing that resulted in the change of the Official Plan for all of the railway use lands around Union Station (Toronto) from Yonge Street to Bathurst Street (185 acres) to a high density mix of residential, commercial, entertainment, hotels, sport centres and other uses including construction of the CN Tower. That Official Plan is the basis for over 43 years of enormous development on the lands - lands then and now worth billions of dollars. It was/is the largest Official Plan change in the history of Canada.

He was twice chancellor of the University of Windsor, serving a total of 13 years. In 1978 he negotiated the donation to the university of Conrad Black's collection of Duplessis papers in exchange for an honorary degree.

He was a charter member of his local (Don Mills) Civitan club,[5] and he served as treasurer of the international organization. His position allowed him to meet U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to present Civitan's World Citizenship Award.[5]

Literary activities[edit]

Two of Rohmer's better-known novels are Ultimatum and Separation. Ultimatum, published in 1973, features political, economic, and energy crisis themes as well as the author's opinion about the viability of the Canadian nation. It is Rohmer's most popular novel[6] and it was the best-selling novel in Canada in 1973.[7] Three years later, Rohmer published Separation, a novel with domestic and international political themes surrounding the ambition of Quebec separatists to establish the Canadian province as a separate nation. It stayed on the Toronto Star's best-seller list for 22 weeks.[8] Separation was made into a television movie in 1977, and aired on the CTV network. Barry Morse was cast for a brief appearance as the British prime minister.

Rohmer chaired the Royal Commission on Book Publishing in 1971/72. He is a known Canadian author of both fiction and non-fiction; throughout his literary career he has published over thirty books. His most recent non-fiction is The Building of the CN Tower published 2011 by RailCore Press Inc. of which he is president. His most recent novel, Ultimatum 2 was published early 2007. It fictionalizes a confrontation between the US and Russia against Canada over the building of an international high level nuclear waste disposal site in Arctic Canada. The second edition of his historical novel on the 1866/67 Canadian negotiations with the British for autonomy under the British North American Act is Sir John A's Crusade and Seward's Magnificent Folly, with a Downton Abbey connection.

Family[edit]

Rohmer lives with his wife Mary-O in Collingwood, Ontario and practises aviation litigation with the Toronto law firm of Rohmer & Fenn. He has two daughters, Ann Rohmer, a TV personality, and Catherine, a lawyer. He is a licensed pilot.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Practice and Procedure Before the Highway Transport Board (1965)
  • The Green North: Mid-Canada (1970)
  • The Royal Commission on Book Publishing (Chair, 1972)
  • The Arctic Imperative (1973) Toronto, McClelland and Stewart ISBN 9780771077012
  • Ultimatum (1973) Toronto, Clarke, Irwin ISBN 9780772006189
  • Exxoneration (1974)
  • Exodus UK (1975) Toronto : McClelland and Stewart ISBN 9780771077067
  • Separation (1976) McClelland and Stewart ISBN 9780771077043
  • Balls! (1980)
  • Periscope Red (1980)
  • Poems by Arthur Henry Ward (1980)
  • Separation two (1981)
  • Pattons Gap (1981) New York : Beaufort Books ISBN 9780082500629
  • Triad (1982)
  • Retaliation (1982)
  • Massacre 747 (1984)
  • Rommel and Patton (1986)
  • Starmageddon (1986)
  • Hour of the Fox (1988)
  • Red Arctic (1989)
  • John A.'s Crusade (1995)
  • Death by Deficit (1996)
  • Caged Eagle (2002)
  • Raleigh on the Rocks (2002)
  • Generally Speaking (autobiography, 2004) Toronto, Dundurn Group ISBN 9781550025187
  • Ultimatum 2 (2007) Toronto, Dundurn ISBN 978-1-55002-584-2
  • Building of the CN Tower (2011)
  • Building of the Sky Dome/Rogers Centre (2012)
  • Sir John A's Crusade and Seward's Magnificent Folly (2013)
  • Poems by AH Ward
  • Practice and Procedure before the Ontario Highway Transport Board
  • Report of the Royal Commission on Book Publishing (co-author)

Honours[edit]

Ribbon bars of Richard Rohmer
Order of Canada (OC) ribbon bar.png
Order of Military Merit (Canada) ribbon (CMM).jpg VOStJ ribbon.png Order of Ontario ribbon bar.png Ribbon - Distinguished Flying Cross.png
1939-45 Star.png Clasp - Air Crew Europe & France and Germany.png DefenceMedal-Ribbon.png Canadian Volunteer Service Medal BAR 2.svg
Ribbon - War Medal.png Canada100 ribbon.png QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Canada125 ribbon.png
QEII Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png CD-ribbon.png Service Medal of the Order of St John ribbon.png
Distinguished Marksmanship Ribbon.svg Officer Ordre de Leopold.png Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg
Ribbon Description Notes
Order of Canada (OC) ribbon bar.png Order of Canada (OC)
  • Officer
  • 20 April 1990
  • [9]
Order of Military Merit (Canada) ribbon (CMM).jpg Order of Military Merit (CMM)
  • Commander
  • 11 December 1978
  • [10]
VOStJ ribbon.png Order of Saint John (K.StJ)
  • Knight of Justice
Order Ontario ribbon bar.svg Order of Ontario (O.Ont)
  • Member
  • 1997
Ribbon - Distinguished Flying Cross.png Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
1939-45 Star.png 1939–1945 Star
Clasp - Air Crew Europe & France and Germany.png Air Crew Europe Star
  • With "FRANCE AND GERMANY" Clasp
DefenceMedal-Ribbon.png Defence Medal
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal BAR 2.svg Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
  • With Overseas Clasp
Ribbon - War Medal.png War Medal
Canada100 ribbon.png Canadian Centennial Medal
  • 1967
QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
  • 1977
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
Canada125 ribbon.png 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal
  • 1992
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
  • [11]
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
  • [12]
CD-ribbon.png Canadian Forces Decoration (CD)
Service Medal of the Order of St John ribbon.png Service Medal of the Order of St John
Distinguished Marksmanship Ribbon.svg Distinguished Marksmanship Ribbon
Officer Ordre de Leopold.png Order of Leopold
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Legion of Honour
  • Appointed as a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1960.
  • Honorary Chief of Toronto Police Service (TPS) on March 26, 2015[13]
  • Named as "The Most Interesting Canadian" by the National Post[14]

Honorary Degrees[edit]

Richard Rohmer Has Received Many Honorary Degrees in recognition of His Service to Canada, these include:

Honorary Degrees
Country Date School Degree
 Ontario May 1975 University of Windsor Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [15]
 Ontario 2009 Law Society of Upper Canada Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [16]
 Ontario 20 November 2015 Royal Military College of Canada Doctor of Military Science [17]

References[edit]

External links[edit]