Two of the Nicola Valley’s memory-keepers invite valley residents to join them in organizing a multi-year observance of the centenary of the First World War.
“Our intention is to remember all those in the valley who endured the First World War, those who went to war and those who awaited their return, and, of course, those who died in battle and those who grieved them,” says Deborha Merrick, head of the Merritt branch of TNRD Library System.
Deborha is working with Michael Sasges of the Nicola Valley Museum & Archives. They are especially keen to hear from the valley’s artists, crafts people and writers, as well as the valley’s younger residents.
Deborha and Mike hope all that come forward are as keen as they are to acknowledge and commemorate the social personality of the residents of the Nicola Valley in the first two decades of the previous century.
“They were a gregarious people, garrulous, too, I suspect, and the record of their dances and smokers and concerts and lectures and ball games and football matches delights a century later,” Mike says.
Centenary projects are endless and might include: a study group to generate biographies of the valley’s war dead; concerts by valley musicians and singers, the music and songs of the church halls and dance halls and labour halls of the era; exhibitions by painters that re-imagine the famous battlefield paintings of the First World War, or a memorial quilt.
The bloodiest conflict in Canadian history took the lives of at least 40 of the 335 valley men who went to war between the summer of 1914 and the fall of 1918.
For more information contact:
Deborha Merrick, 250-378-4737
Mike Sasges, 250-378-6982
Photo courtesy NICOLA VALLEY MUSEUM
The first Nicola Valley volunteers for First World War military service left Merritt in three trains, on Aug. 15, 17 and 18 in 1914. “Soldiers lined up on track, Merritt. 1st contingent BC Horse – leaving for Valcartier, Que. 1914’’ probably records the Aug. 15 departure. “BC Horse” was the 31st Regiment, B.C. Horse, and a militia regiment that had been organized originally by valley men and was commanded from Merritt. Valcartier was an under-construction training camp located in Quebec.