Museum to display war items

As is the tradition, the Strathcona County Musuem and Archives will be open on the afternoon of Remembrance Day to show its annual exhibit to commemorate Canada’s veterans.

However, this year’s exhibit will be different, highlighting the centennial anniversary of both the start of the First World War and the founding of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).

The exhibit, entitled Lest We Forget, will include several PPCLI artifacts that have been loaned to the museum. They include uniforms, medals, cups, badges and other memorabilia from the regiment.

There will also be a number of artifacts from the First World War. Among those pieces is a bible that travelled with a soldier during the war.

“After four major battles, he and the bible both returned home,” said Starr Hanson, curator of the museum.

There are also several embroidered postcards, which were sent home from Europe that were addressed to the soldier’s wife and son. The postcards have been donated to the museum’s permanent exhibit.

Many of the items have been donated to the museum from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91 in Tofield and its members Bonnie and Barbara, who are also members of the Strathcona museum.

The First World War was sparked in July 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The killing of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne set off a chain of events that led the United Kingdom, France and Russia being at war with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The war ended up being one of the deadliest conflicts in human history with causalities in the tens of millions, although numbers are still debated.

Just as the war started, Capt. Andrew Hamilton Gault of Montreal offered the Canadian government $100,000 to start a regiment to be sent overseas. Days later, the PPCLI was created, named after a member of the British Royal Family, Princess Patricia of Connaught, who was also the daughter of Canada’s Governor General.

The PPCLI arrived in France in September 1914, to become the first Canadians to serve in the overseas mission and the only one to do so in that year. In the first three months on the front lines, they suffered 238 casualties and lost its original commanding officer.

The exhibit is currently on display and will run until Nov. 27. It will be open on Remembrance Day from noon until 3 p.m.

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