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Chilliwack Museum marks 100th anniversary of First World War

The Charles Woodworth family, c. 1917. From left to right: Olive, Irene, George, Luetta, Charles, and Clifford (in uniform). Clifford Woodworth served in the Great War, joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force on April 20, 1917.  - [Chilliwack Archives P4475]
The Charles Woodworth family, c. 1917. From left to right: Olive, Irene, George, Luetta, Charles, and Clifford (in uniform). Clifford Woodworth served in the Great War, joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force on April 20, 1917.
— image credit: [Chilliwack Archives P4475]

The Chilliwack Museum and Archives is pleased to announce the opening of its newest annual exhibit, Chilliwack’s Great War: At Home and Overseas, on August 4th, 2014. The exhibit honours the memory of those from Chilliwack whose lives were impacted and changed forever by the First World War – a war referred to at the time as the “Great War”, and as the “War to end all wars”. The exhibit highlights the contributions and sacrifices made by the community of Chilliwack in support of Canada’s military commitment overseas, and reflects upon the different ways those who served in the war continue to be remembered, both at home and abroad.

An Opening Reception will be held on Monday, August 4th from 12:00 – 4:00 at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives at 45820 Spadina Avenue, and all are welcome to attend. Admission to the exhibit will be free on opening day. The opening date was selected in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Great Britain and the British Empire - automatically including Canada - entering the First World War on August 4th, 1914. The war involved over 100 countries and was fought on the ground throughout most of Europe, and in parts of Asia and Africa. The four years of battle from 1914 until 1918 were the deadliest that the world had ever seen.

The exhibit will showcase artifacts, archival documents, and photographs from the period, including personal letters to and from the trenches, wartime artifacts, items from local organizations involved in the war effort, and keepsakes of remembrance. One of the artifacts in the exhibit is a Red Cross quilt made in 1918 by the Sardis Red Cross Sewing Circle at the Thornton Family home. The Sardis Red Cross made the quilt to raise money for the war effort by charging 10 cents per signature name, which was then embroidered on the quilt. The completed quilt was then raffled off to the highest bidder.

The exhibit will also include information on local Chilliwack soldiers who lost their lives during the War – many of whose names are remembered locally on the Chilliwack Cenotaph and the Stó:lō Veterans Memorial. Less information has been gathered on those from Chilliwack who returned home from the trenches, and research in this area will be ongoing at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. It is hoped that the exhibit will help to generate further interest and family discussion regarding the First World War, and that we will collectively be able to add to more our knowledge of the many veterans whose faces may at the moment be unknown to us, and whose stories are yet to be told.

During the exhibit opening the lights will be dimmed in remembrance from 2:00 until 3:00, marking the decisive hour when war was declared in Great Britain at 11:00 pm on August 4th 1914 - 100 years ago.

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