Local author records fallen heroes

After working on and providing much of the background for a book completed last year on Strathcona County’s war dead, Bonnie Ferguson is back at it, now working on a similar book Beaver County.

Like the Strathcona County book, entitled Remembering Our Fallen: Strathcona County, the Beaver County version will list all of the Canadian soldiers who hailed from the area and died while in the service, either in combat or in training.

It’s a huge project, according to Ferguson, who is a member of the Tofield Royal Canadian Legion, as well as a member of the Strathcona County Museum and Archives. As a Legionnaire and with her interest in history she said she has enjoyed the hours of research required for a project like this.

Ferguson was approached in the spring of 2013 by then-mayor Linda Osinchuk who proposed the project for Strathcona County veterans for the upcoming 120th anniversary of the municipality. At the time, Ferguson, a Strathcona County resident, had about half of the fallen soldiers already accounted for, she said. Research was ramped up so that the book could be completed by the anniversary celebrations in August.

Ferguson worked with researchers at the museum and with Reg Bennet, a Drumheller resident who has helped more than a dozen communities across Alberta research their respective fallen soldiers for books.

Ferguson used many different resources for her research, including countless books, oan online database called the Canadian Virtual War Memorial as well as help from the Canadian Fallen Heroes Foundation. The Strathcona County book was published in time for the celebrations last year and a limited run of 12 copies were published. The book was loosely bound so that if new information was found out about soldiers or if more soldiers need to be added, it can be done with ease.

The Strathcona book includes one resident who was killed in the Boer War, 49 who were killed in the First World War, 35 killed in the Second World War, three killed in Afghanistan and five unknown soldiers who were from Strathcona County but who have no information on their names or ranks. The book is on permanent display at the Strathcona County Museum so the public can access its information.

As for the Beaver County book, Ferguson said she is about 90 per cent completed the research. She said the hardest part is trying to track down photos of the deceased as many family members of the soldiers are now deceased too.

“It’s still very much a work in progress,” she said.

This article, written by Sherwood Park freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published in Sherwood Park News.