The author of a new book about the Langley experience during the First World War helped to organize a new exhibition about the same subject at the Centennial Museum.
It was a return to familiar territory for guest curator Warren Sommer, who was museum director when he first developed his fascination with the war history of the local community.
“Sacrifice and Sorrow: Langley and the Great War of 1914 – 1918” opened on Sunday, April 9, the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, and will be on display until July 16.
It features a collection of wartime uniforms, equipment, weapons, drawings and paintings, medals and decorations, letters, and memorabilia.
Visitors can view archival film footage of B.C. soldiers drilling and embarking for overseas as well as footage of The Battle of the Somme, released in 1916 and described at the time as “the most remarkable moving picture which has ever been produced.”
One wall is devoted to photographs of the many Langley residents who enlisted.
“If I do say so myself, I think it’s one of the best (exhibitions) the museum has done,” Sommer said.
At the exhibition opening, Sommer signed copies of his just-published book Canucks in Khaki: Langley, the Lower Mainland, and the Great War of 1914 to 1918.
First-day sales were good, with more than a third of the first run of 500 editions selling.
Sommer will return to the museum to answer questions and sign copies of his book on the following Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. — May 7, May 21, June 11 and June 18.
Sommer spent 20 years researching the impact of the “war to end all wars” when more than 400 young men and youths from Langley enlisted, roughly half the entire adult male population of the small agricultural community.
The 384-page hard cover book has 445 black and white photos with excerpts from letters and diaries, official war records, and newspapers of the day.
Canucks in Khaki can also be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 604-888-0017.
The price is $39.95 plus GST. Shipping can be arranged at cost.
On Saturday, April 22, the museum will host a daylong symposium, “Reflections of the Great War” which will include presentations by Sommer and other experts as well as a tour of the local Great War cemetery.
Cost is $25 per person. Phone 604-532-3536 to register.