Remembering Alberta and the Great War at the Provincial Archives of Alberta

This year marks the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War—a conflict that defined the course of the modern world, with reverberations still felt today. The war marked Canada’s “coming of age”, and Alberta, still a young province, was equally changed by the tragic events.

Figure 1 Canadian nurses with wounded soldiers (From the A. Lawrence Berry fonds, PR1973.0467/18.)

Canadian nurses with wounded soldiers (From the A. Lawrence Berry fonds, PR1973.0467/18.)

Archivist Braden Cannon with the Provincial Archives of Alberta curated an expanded exhibit, Alberta and the Great War, from the archival holdings commemorating the “war to end all wars”. Albertans’ everyday lives were affected by the conflict. Though waged thousands of miles away, the conflict affected the everyday lives of Albertans in many ways. To Braden, “Although our exhibit features the province, it has global implications and repercussions. Many people elsewhere experienced very similar effects. It is important to recognize the global scope of the event, not just from Canada’s perspective.”

The design and layout of the exhibit is another reason to check out the new exhibit. This is one of the larger ones that Braden has curated. “Lots of thought went into design and layout to best present the documents. There are so many documents in our holdings related to the First World War that we wanted to show.”

12 Platoon, 194th Battalion on parade in Edmonton (From the Clement Schroeter fonds, PR2009.0167/1.)

12 Platoon, 194th Battalion on parade in Edmonton (From the Clement Schroeter fonds, PR2009.0167/1.)

Alberta and the Great War explores five different areas of the war: The Western Front, Women in the War, The Home Front, Opposition and Oppression, and The Aftermath. “How Alberta’s public policy has evolved can be traced back to the political and war efforts of Alberta and Canada,” comments Braden. “It is extremely important to chart the evolution of the events. Even though we may not see it, how we live day-to-day now is shaped by the First World War.”

Propaganda Postcard (From the Clement Schroeter fonds, PR2009.0167/1.)

Propaganda Postcard (From the Clement Schroeter fonds, PR2009.0167/1.)

As with most documents at the Archives, this exhibit has plenty for visitors to rifle through. The entire display, from research to launch, took just under a year to put together. Many of the documents are from the Provincial Archives’ collection with some records and items from the Royal Alberta Museum. One of Braden’s favourite records is the attorney general’s files on various prosecutions into the violations of the war measures act. “For me, it was intriguing to dig through the amount of policing and enforcements of the population to ensure support of the war effort,” explains Braden.

In addition to the exhibit, there is a weekly Wednesday night lecture series running throughout November on Alberta and the Great War: Personalities and Perspectives. This series takes a deeper look into the lives of Albertans and what people lived through in the war years.

The Details for Alberta and the Great War Exhibit:

When: Until August 2015. The Provincial Archives is open from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Where: Provincial Archives of Alberta. 8555 Roper Road, Edmonton.

Admission: Free for all visitors.

Need more info? Visit the website or call 780-427-1750 (dial 310-0000 for toll-free access within Alberta).

 

The Details for Alberta and the Great War: Personalities and Perspectives Lecture Series:

When: Every Wednesday from November 5 until November 26 at 7 p.m.

Where: Provincial Archives of Alberta. 8555 Roper Road, Edmonton.

Admission: Free for all visitors. Please RSVP to reserve a spot by email to paaevents@gov.ab.ca or give us a call.

Need more info? Visit the website or call 780-427-1750 (dial 310-0000 for toll-free access within Alberta).

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