What To Do In Calgary – The Military Museum

Sherman Firefly in Caen 1944
Canadian Sherman tank, Calgary Alberta, 2018
Canadian M4A2(76)W HVSS Sherman “Easy 8” tank . Military Museum in Calgary

Or Tanks for the Memories!

Of all the things we planned to do, the thing I looked forward to the most was seeing the Calgary Military Museum and their collection of tanks.

If you look at my website, you’ll see there’s a whole section for tanks. I love tanks. I don’t know why. My therapist doesn’t know why. There’s a lot of head shaking and eye rolling. But when I found out there was a military museum in Calgary of all places, I had to go.

The-Youngest decided to join me, (part of his plan) even though it meant getting up early. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and The-Oldest were happy to sleep in.

We managed to get there in about 11 minutes. Ok, 16, due to me getting lost despite a perfectly functioning GPS (when the nice GPS lady said take the SW exit and the sign said south, I hesitated too long while I tried to figure out if there was a SW exit as well…. And, ah, no, there wasn’t.)

No matter. We got there.

Most of the tanks were outside, which was fine except that it had decided to rain. Of course. And I had not thought about bringing a jacket. Of course. I debated bringing an umbrella, but apparently, people who use umbrellas here are considered marginally “challenged” in Alberta so I thought what the hell, a little rain never hurt anyone.

Calgary Military Museum 2018
A WW2 “Churchill VII” tank

The tanks they had on display I knew well. The Churchill VII, a huge British heavy tank, a Centurion Mark III, perhaps the best post war 1950s tank built, a surprisingly big Sherman M4E8 (an ‘Easy Eight’), and a soon-to-be-restored Russian T-34-85. Near the entrance, they’d stationed a T-72 with desert camouflage. ‘

Both The-Youngest and I were super stoked to be there, to touch the tanks to look at them close up. Only one of us did a happy dance, and (spoiler alert) it wasn’t him.

t72 tank calgary military museum
A T72 tank with desert camo.

I took tons of pictures while The-Youngest told me stories of the adventures he’s had with the tanks while playing World of Tanks on the Xbox.

I had forgotten how huge tanks could be. Even the Sherman which was supposed to be a fast, medium tank.

No German tanks, though and let’s face it, the best tank builders in WW2 were the Germans. However, despite their Tiger tanks with their huge 88mm guns that could shoot straight through a Sherman, the allies produced so many tanks that we simply overwhelmed the Germans with very reliable, mass-produced machines.

But it makes me realize the courage of our tank crews. It’s all fair and fine to sit in an 80-ton German heavy tank with a massive gun and armor that’s almost impenetrable, and it’s quite another to try and fight one of those beasts in Sherman.

Yet, they did.

Sherman Firefly in Caen 1944
Inside Calgary’s Military Museum were plenty of life-sized displays. This one featuring a “Firefly” tank fighting in a city.

Often at great cost.

Inside, the museum itself was fantastic for its size. They had great displays set up in regimental rooms, from the famous stand of the PPCLI against the German gas attack in WW1, to the famous victory for the Canadians at Vimy Ridge, to the battles in Italy and France in WW2, to the heroic stand during the battle of Kapyong, in Korea, and finally, to the peacekeeping missions around the world.

Check out my history section if you want to see more about all of this.

After seeing all the regimental rooms, we quickly toured the naval part of the museum, then the air force section, but had to pass on seeing their collection of planes due to a particularly scary entrance into those hangars (though The-Youngest had been so awesome coming with me that I didn’t mind we missed the planes.)

I could have spent long hours there reading of the heroic moments of these Canadian regiments, but we had a lot to do and The-Youngest, while vaguely interested in guns and tanks had no stomach for reading, which seemed way too much like school work.

No matter.

We were off to see dinosaurs next.

However, if anyone gets to Calgary, has an interest in the military, a family member who served, or hell, you just love a good museum, check it out. The staff were awesome. The displays fantastic. Fun was had.

And the sacrifices of our armed forces should never be forgotten.


Hey, if you’re interested, here are a few other links.

World of Tanks (the best tank game ever!)

Tanks in Canada

PPCLI (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) Regimental History

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) History

The King’s Own Calgary Regiment History

The Calgary Highlanders History


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Model Child

We didnt have TV. We had sticks.
We didn’t have TV. We had sticks.

Long ago, when there were no such things as cell phones, video game consoles or electricity, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves.

Sure, I tried whacking my brother with a stick.  I tried shop-carting down a hill. I even tried to build a raft and sail to the US. But one thing I fell in love with was modeling. Maybe it was the glue. There’s a good argument to say I was pretty much high most of the time I was modeling.


Wait, you know I’m talking about plastic miniature modeling, right? And not Fabio modeling cuz that’s another story all together.  So, to clarify, for whatever reason, I loved to make models.

I built tanks, mostly. A few planes. A few ships. Hell, I even tried to build a 19th 3 deck ship-of-the-line, but got defeated by all the rigging. It looked like a spider had gotten massively drunk and spun a web of chaos from mast to mast.

Then, for some reason, I destroyed most of my models. I still can’t explain why. (See the whole ‘glue’ thing.)

Tamiya Churchill VII tank with guys serving tea and biscuits. Yup. Tea and biscuits
Tamiya Churchill VII tank with guys serving tea and biscuits. Yup. Tea and biscuits

But this year, I bought The Youngest a model tank. He’s all into a multiplayer video game, World of Tanks, and I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be a cool thing for us to do together. You know, build something. However, I’ve learned from my youth and we’ll be making our tank in a very well ventilated place. Sadly, that’s the kitchen, and we may end up gluing cookies to our fingers or serviettes to our heads, but that’s ok. That’s part of the fun, right?

I bought him a Churchill VII for anyone who cares. It’s his favourite tank in the game, and, being 9, he’s a killer on the battlefield. It’s like those little fingers and that tiny developing brain were designed by God to rule the console. He absolutely slaughters me in NHL16. And he’s earned epic medals in the tanking game.

So why not tear him away and get him doing something… constructive.

Here’s our strengths.

Him: he reads instructions really well. Really well. I do not. My building of anything Ikea looks more like someone just shot a tank shell into a book shelf. Plus, somehow I always end up with a good dozen pieces left over (which is why I never got into car restoration.)

Me: I’ve done it before. I know the ins-and-outs of how to build a model. Not everything fits as it should. Not everything will glue to what you want it to glue to.

Him: He’s got small hands and keen eyes. He’d be a superstar in some workshop in the 3rd world where they make miniature doggie go-pros or something. I think we could have sold him for mad cash. But here in the 1st world, he should have no problem attaching that headlamp the size of an ant’s butt-hole onto a plate of sloping armor. Me? I can’t see well at the best of times and while, long ago, I could paint the eyes on a 1/72nd scale soldier, now I can barely read without a magnifying glass and the light of 10,000 suns.

Me: I am surprisingly patient when modeling. I can’t explain why it drives me nutso-beserko to stand in line for 2 minutes at Save-on, but I can play with little pieces of plastic for hours and not get my heart-beat above near-death. I think it’s about living in the moment. I hear such a thing is awesome.

So, between the two of us, we should be able to gett’er done.

This is a modeling sprue. I have no idea why they call it a sprue.
This is a modeling sprue. I have no idea why they call it a sprue.

And last weekend, we began. He, being a titch less patient, wanted to rip all the parts off their sprues, but once I showed him each part had a letter and a number, and the instructions would tell you where they’d go, he put down the parts and began to read what goes where.

His special ability was amazing. On model instructions, as on Ikea, there’s often lots of arrows going in lots of directions. But he wasn’t fooled at all. He read every direction perfectly. I was stunned. He’s 9.

After an hour, we had a lot of small bits put on big bits. He had more glue on his fingers than on the tank, but that all comes off and was not really unexpected. It helped that I bought a glue applicator designed for kids. It looked like someone had stuck a needle in a glue container, but it allowed only a little out at a time, unlike when I was doing it when it would look like an explosion of something gooey and messy.

Tamiya Churchill VII tank with guys serving tea and biscuits. Yup. Tea and biscuits
So many, many wheels. Why? Someone tell me why????

Yesterday, we build the tracks. Now if you’ve ever seen a Churchill tank, (and I know pretty much 100% of you have), it’s a massive undertaking. But, again, he rocked at it, and, unlike most of the hours on most of the days, he spent that hour sitting still, concentrating on what went where, and telling me all about his tanking experience.

“Joe, did you know I blew up 7 tanks in my last game?”

“Wow, great.”

“Joe, did you know I’m probably the best Churchill tank player on the server?”

“I did not know that.”

“Joe, did you know that I once destroyed a guy two levels above me?”

“That’s awesome.”

“Joe, did you know that if you shoot at the lower glacial plane on a tiger, you can penetrate it with AP?”

“Ah, what? I mean, right. Sure. I knew that.”

Note he is gluing actual parts together and not his fingers.
Note he is gluing actual parts together and not his fingers.

Apart from the actual building of the model, this time with him is awesome. We talk about nothing important and everything important. We laugh when we goof something up. We share thoughts about tanks and games.

It’s magical time. And I feel so very blessed to have that with him.