As the world marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War this summer, local museums are looking for memorabilia.
Canada’s last veteran of that war died four years ago at the age of 109 and the last veteran in the world died a year later.
Remembrance Day was started a year after the war — which ran 1914-1918 — to honour and remember those killed, but the Parksville and Qualicum Beach museums both say they have very few articles linking us to that history.
“We are marking the 100th anniversary of the train station this year, and of course that became important in sending troops to the war,” said Qualicum Beach Museum manager Natanja Waddel, adding that the Qualicum Beach Inn was used as a convalescent home.
She said that while the war was important to local history, the museum’s collection is very limited and they are hoping to build it up over the next four years while they mark different 100th anniversaries from the war, hopefully marking the end of the war with a bigger display.
The Parksville museum also has a few items, including some photos, a field dressing kit, a Christmas bonus tin, some shells and possibly a uniform they are currently investigating.
Manager Nikki Gervais said they are working with the Vancouver Island Military Museum in Nanaimo and CFB Comox to properly identify their items and would love to hear more from anyone who has details or items related to the war that would help keep the history alive locally.
Similarly, the local Legion branches have some photos and information, but say their First World War connections are very limited and they are always looking for more details about local connections to the war.
In total, about 620,000 Canadians enlisted in the war, 420,000 went overseas and (according to Wikipedia) about 67,000 died in unexpectedly harsh conditions.
Stop in or contact the local organizations: Parksville Museum (250-248-6966), Qualicum Beach Museum (752-5533), Parksville Legion (250-248-6842), Qualicum Beach Legion (752-9632).