On today’s date in 2001, at least two dozen Canadians were among the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
To date, no Canadian coins or banknote have been issued to honour the Canadians who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, N.Y., on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and on United Airlines Flight 93, which came down in Pennsylvania after being hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault upon thousands of innocent people,” said Jean Chrétien, then prime minister, in the aftermath of the attacks.
Nearly 240 international flights were diverted to Canadian airports, 38 of which were diverted to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland & Labrador. The small town of 10,000 people sheltered more than 6,500 stranded passengers in the days that followed Sept. 11.
“While we can’t forget the horrific acts committed that day, I hope people also remember the many acts of kindness and generosity that followed here in Gander, and across the country,” said Vic Toews, public safety minister, on the attacks’ 10th anniversary in 2011.
Also in 2011, then-prime minister Stephen Harper added: “Though we are not immune to the threat of terrorism, our society is vigilant and resilient. Canada will stand firm with our allies, defending and protecting our democratic values – freedom, human rights and the rule of law – in the hope of a more secure and peaceful world.”
U.S. 9/11 MEDAL
Several 9/11 memorial issues – some of them official while others are not – have been issued in the United States since 2001.
In 2011, a decade after the attacks, the U.S. Mint struck a new silver medal to mark the 10th anniversary of attacks plus the establishment of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero.
The medal’s obverse design features Lady Liberty holding the Lamp of Remembrance. Behind her are beacons of light stretching skyward. The inscriptions include “ALWAYS REMEMBER” and “2001-2011.” The medal’s obverse was designed by U.S. Mint designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by mint sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill.
The medal’s reverse design depicts an eagle – symbolizing the strength of the survivors, the families and the nation – against a backdrop of cascading water. The flowing water is emblematic of peace, serenity, healing and the continuity of life. The inscriptions are “HONOR” and “HOPE.” The medal’s reverse was designed by Weaver and sculpted by mint sculptor-engraver Joseph Menna.
More recently, in 2021, FDNY Uniformed Officers Association announced it will issue a special “challenge coin” featuring the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks. The funds will go towards the Bravest Scholarship, which provides college scholarships to the children of active firefighters and officers who died. About 400 children have received more than $3.25 million US through the fund.
Countless private issues, including other challenge coins, tokens and commemorative banknotes, have been released in the years following the attacks.
At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower between floors 93 and 99 of the 110-storey building. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower between floors 77 and 85 of that building, which also stood 110 storeys tall. About half an hour later, at 9:37 a.m., United Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
The South Tower eventually collapsed at 9:59 a.m., 56 minutes after Flight 175 crashed into the building’s north face.
Minutes later, at 10:30 a.m., Flight 93 came down in Pennsylvania after passengers resisted hijackers’ attempts to crash the plane into another U.S. government building. The “9/11 Commission,” an official government report published two years after the attacks, suggested Flight 93’s original target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House in Washington, D.C.
At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower collapsed. It was an hour and 42 minutes after Flight 11 crashed into the building’s south face.
Parts of the Pentagon collapsed about half an hour later.
That afternoon, 7 World Trade Center, another 47-storey building that wasn’t hit by a plane, collapsed after seven hours of ongoing fires due to debris from the nearby attacks.
“The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ultimately,” New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani told CBS News hours after the attack.
REMEMBERING THE CANADIANS WHO DIED IN 9/11
- Michael Arczynski: The 45-year-old senior vice-president of the insurance firm Aon Corp., Arczynski was a physically active man who moved to New York after nine years in London. A well-travelled man, he had three homes in Montréal, London and Australia. He and his wife Lori had three children, and Arczynski was survived by another three daughters from his first marriage.
- Garnet “Ace” Bailey: The 53-year-old director of professional scouting for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, Bailey was a native of Lloydminster, Sask. He was aboard Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. His professional playing career included stints with several teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, where he played alongside Wayne Gretzky. He was nicknamed “Ace” for his skills on the ice. He was survived by a 22-year-old son and his wife Kathy.
- David Barkway: A 34-year-old executive with BMO Nesbitt Burns in Toronto, Barkway was visiting a client atop the World Trade Center’s North Tower when the first plane hit. On the 105th floor, he sent an electronic message to his Toronto colleagues saying he was in trouble. Barkway was visiting New York with his pregnant wife Cindy for a three-day business trip. The couple also had a two-year-old child.
- Ken Basnicki: The 47-year-old father of two was in the North Tower, where he worked, on the day of the attacks. The Toronto native was last heard from at 8:55 a.m. in a cellphone call to his mother from an office on the 106th floor. “He was notifying his mother that the place was full of smoke and he didn’t think he’d find a way out,” said brother-in-law Dan Young, of Ennismore, Ont. Basnicki was on his first business trip to New York.
- Joseph Collison: Born in Toronto in 1951, Collison moved to New York City more than 10 years before the attacks. He was on the 102nd floor of the North Tower, where he worked in the mailroom of Kidder, Peabody & Co. “Joe was so caring,” said sister-in-law Janet Collison, of Mississauga, Ont., where he was buried next to his parents. “Joe truly was a brother, someone who always stood beside you.” Collison, who was not married, was hoping to adopt a young boy in New York that he cared for. “Anyone who knew Joe said he was always there for you,” added Collison.
- Cynthia Connolly: A 40-year-old employee of Aon Corp., Connolly was transferred from the company’s Montréal office to New York in 1999. She loved pets and had an Airedale German Shepherd plus a cat. She was married to Donald Poissant, whom she wed in Montréal a year before she left for the United States.
- Arron Dack: Born in England, Dack grew up in Toronto and later worked as a senior executive with Encompys. The 39-year-old father of two was attending a conference in the North Tower when the first plane hit. He called his office just after the impact to say he was alive, and two minutes later, at 8:47 a.m., he called his wife Abigail. He was survived by his wife and two children, Olivia and Carter.
- Michael Egan: The 51-year-old employee of Aon Corp. worked on the 105th floor of the South Tower and had his older sister visiting him for a couple of weeks. His sister, who also died in the attacks, is believed to have been visiting his office so she could gaze over the city.
- Christine Egan: The 55-year-old Health Canada nurse epidemiologist from Winnipeg, Man., was visiting her younger brother’s upper-floor office in the South Tower. She came to New York to spend time with him, her sister-in-law and her two teenaged nephews. She was last spotted on the 105th floor.
- Albert William Elmarry: The 30-year-old Elmarry moved from Toronto to the United States in 1999 to work in computer support for Cantor Fitzgerald. He met his wife Irenie on a visit to his native Egypt. He had worked for IBM Canada when he was in Toronto. He was on the 103rd floor when the attacks took place.
- Meredith Ewart: Aged 29, Ewart was married to Peter Feidelberg, who also died in the attacks. The Montréal native worked on the World Trade Center’s top floor as a consultant for Aon Corp.
- Peter Feidelberg: Aged 34, Feidelberg also worked for Aon on the South Tower’s top floor. Both he and his wife Meredith got their jobs with the company at the same time and had been married for 18 months.
- Alexander Filipov: Aged 70 and born in Regina, Sask., Filipov lived in Concord, Mass. He was on Flight 11 when it hit the World Trade Center. Filipov, an electrical engineer, grew up in Windsor, Ont., and graduated from Queen’s University in nearby Kingston. He was hoping to get home on time for his 44th anniversary in Massachusetts. He was survived by his wife Loretta and three sons Allan, David and Jeffrey.
- Ralph Gerhardt: The 34-year-old vice-president with Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond trading firm, called his parents in Toronto just after the first plane hit the North Tower. He informed them he was going to find his girlfriend, who worked in the floor below, but was never heard from again.
- Stuart Lee: The 30-year-old Lee returned only a day before the attacks from his Korean homeland, where he took his wife Lynn Udbjorg to show off his heritage. He was on the 103rd floor of the North Tower when the tragedy took place. Lee was the vice-president of integrated services for Datasynapse. He spent the last hour of his life emailing his company, trying to figure how to leave the building.
- Mark Ludvigsen: Aged 32, Ludvigsen worked at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. He left his native New Brunswick for the United States with his parents when he was aged seven. He worked on the 89th floor of the South Tower. He called his parents a few minutes after the attack on the North Tower to console them. He told them they had nothing to worry about since he was on the other wing but was not heard from again.
- Bernard Mascarenhas: The 54-years-old Newmarket, Ont., native worked for Marsh McLellan, an insurance brokerage firm that had offices at the World Trade Center. The chief information officer, he was in New York on a five-day visit to the technology department of his parent company. Marsh had 1,900 employees in the World Trade Center, and 295 of them were eventually killed. He was survived by his wife Raynette and children Jaclyn and Sven.
- Colin McArthur: Aged 52, McArthur worked as a deputy managing director at Aon Corp. He immigrated to Canada in 1977 but was originally from Glasgow. He married his wife, who also worked at Aon Corp., after moving to Montréal. He had worked at the company for more than 15 years.
- Michel Pelletier: The 36-year-old commodities broker for TradeSpark, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald, was on the 105th floor of the North Tower. He called his wife Sophie to tell her he was trapped in the building. She was dropping off their two-year-old daughter on her first day of school. He was survived by his daughter and a younger son.
Donald Robson: Aged 52 and raised in Toronto, Robson was a partner and bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 103rd floor of the North Tower. He spent the previous two decades in New York and was also present during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He was survived by his wife and two sons, Geoff and Scott.
- Ruffino “Roy” Santos: Aged 37, Santos worked as a computer consultant at Guy Carpenter. He was leaving the company to work for Accenture a week later. A native of Manila, he moved to British Columbia in the 1980s and later to New York in the mid-1990s.
- Vladimir Tomasevic: Aged 36 and originally from Toronto, Tomasevic was the vice-president of software development for Optus. He was attending a conference on the 106th floor of the North Tower. Originally from Yugoslavia, he immigrated to Canada in 1994. “He was my best friend and a part of him will always be with me,” his wife told Maclean’s magazine following the attacks.
- Chantal Vincelli: Aged 38, Vincelli was a marketing assistant for Data Synapse. Her life dream was to be a New Yorker. “She loved the hustle and bustle, the atmosphere, the go-getters,” brother Anthony Vincelli told local reporters. She had been working in New York for five years. On the day of the attacks, Vincelli was setting up a kiosk at a trade show.
- Deborah Lynn Williams: Aged 35, Williams worked for Aon Corp. for the previous 15 years. She and her husband Darren moved to Hoboken, N.J., after being transferred to New York by their employer. A Montréal native, Williams gave birth to the couple’s only child six months after settling in Hoboken.
Several victims of the attacks also had Canadian connections, including:
- Frank Joseph Doyle: Foreign Affairs listed Doyle as a “25th victim” because of his deep Canadian roots. The 39-year-old executive vice-president of Keefe Bruyette & Woods was married to Kimmie Chedel, of St-Sauveur, Qué., where he had a home. All of his relatives live in the nearby Ottawa Valley. He was survived by two children.
- LeRoy Holmer: Aged 36, Homer was the co-pilot of Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania after being taken over by hijackers. Homer was a U.S. citizen, but his wife Melodie Thorpe was a Canadian who grew up in Hamilton, Ont. The couple, who lived in Marlton, N.J., had a young daughter at the time of the attacks. Homer previously served with the U.S. Air Force in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and in Somalia.
- Jane Beatty: Aged 53, Beatty worked at Marsh McLennan. She was originally from Britain but lived in Ontario for 20 years before moving to the United States. She was on the 96th floor of the North Tower when the attacks took place. She previously survived five years with breast cancer and celebrated the occasion just three weeks before her death. She called her husband Bob at 8:45 a.m., just a few minutes before the attack on the North Tower.