Nova Scotia Heritage Day – 15 February 2021

Monday, February 15, 2021

In 2021, Nova Scotia Heritage Day honours Edward Francis Arab

Edward Francis Arab was born September 6, 1915 in Halifax. He was the grandson of Abraham and Annie Arab, and the son of Louis and Sadie Arab.  His grandfather was among the first villagers from Diman, Lebanon to settle in Nova Scotia. 

Edward attended Saint Patrick’s Boys’ School and in 1931, at the age of 16, he joined the Canadian Officer’s Training Corp (COTC), based out of Dalhousie University. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University in 1935. In 1937 he graduated with honours from Dalhousie Law School.

Following his graduation, he opened his own law practice. He quickly gained a reputation for accepting cases that addressed issues of prejudice and racism.

In the summer of 1942, he volunteered for military service and was assigned to the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, a part of the Canadian Infantry Corps where he participated in two years of training.

Lieutenant Arab arrived in France on September 3, 1944 and quickly joined in the effort to open supply routes to liberate Northern Europe.  The Scheldt Estuary is a river that runs from France to the North Sea through the Netherlands and was a vital shipping route. It was heavily fortified by the Germans and the battle to take it was fierce.  The Battle of the Scheldt lasted from October 2 to November 8, 1944. The Allies took the Scheldt at a cost of almost 13,000 casualties, of which nearly half were Canadians. 

On October 24, 1944 Allied forces moved towards the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom. Lieutenant Edward Francis Arab was killed here on October 25, 1944, with other members of his regiment as they moved to liberate the town. They are buried side-by-side in the Bergen op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery.

Edward Arab was proud of his Lebanese heritage, spoke Arabic and helped in 1938 to found the Canadian Lebanon Society, serving as its first President. The Society continues today to share and celebrate Lebanese heritage and culture.

His life and contributions were celebrated in 1949 through the naming of a street in his honour. Edward Arab Avenue is in the Westmount area of Halifax.

He accomplished much in his short life.