Calgary MP’s Hitler blunder in WWI column ’embarrassing,’ says historian

A Member of Parliament’s historical blunder in a recent column sent to hundreds of Calgary homes is raising eyebrows.

In the article, titled Lest We Forget, Calgary Confederation MP Len Webber wrote about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the official end of the First World War, but mistakenly suggested Adolf Hitler was Germany’s leader during the Great War.

Webber wrote that as Remembrance Day nears, it’s important to honour milestones and remember why soldiers fought.

“Through October 1918, it became clear the Allies were in a position to defeat Hitler and the German forces, and discussions to end the Great War intensified. On November 11th, 1918 an armistice ended the majority of the fighting,” the column read.

Terence Scheltema, Webber’s executive assistant, says the error was his and calls it “inexcusable.” (Mount Pleasant Pulse/Screengrab)

“It seems clear that Mr. Webber either has his facts wrong, had someone else who does not know history write this column for him, or he was simply totally confused by the facts,” said resident Daniel MacGregor in an email to CBC News.

University of Calgary history professor Tim Stapleton noted that while Hitler was in the army in WWI, he was merely a corporal, and didn’t rise to power in Germany until the 1930s.

“I think if we’re going to commemorate Canada’s war dead, we should know what those people died for and be able to distinguish those conflicts and what they were about,” Stapleton said. 

“So confusing World War I and World War II, it’s kind of embarrassing.”

‘An inexcusable error’

Terence Scheltema, Webber’s executive assistant, said the error was his, and they made moves to correct it as soon as they were made aware of the issue.

“I don’t know how that reference got in there, because I know my history better than that,” Scheltema said.

“It was an inexcusable error on my part.”

Scheltema said calls to the publishers went unreturned but the online version on Webber’s official website has been corrected.

Webber’s monthly column is sent out to neighbourhood associations in the Calgary Confederation riding, but Scheltema said not every community opts to publish the note in their newsletters.

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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