A $2.5 million donation kicked off a project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War was launched by The Rooms in St. John's on Wednesday.

The Where Once They Stood We Stand campaign will include an exhibition, site development and archeological exhibition as well as outreach and education.

Philanthropist Elinor Gill Ratcliffe announced a $2 million donation to the project in addition to $250,000 she had already committed. The Patten Family Foundation also contributed $250,000.

Gen. Rick Hillier

Gen. Rick Hillier, former Chief of the Defence Staff, Canadian Forces. (CBC)

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier is campaign co-chair, and said the campaign holds special significance for him.

"As a lifelong soldier, it should come as no surprise that I fully support the efforts of The Rooms to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War," said Hillier. 

"I support this initiative not just as a soldier ... I support these efforts to commemorate, remember, educate and appreciate our forefathers' service and sacrifices because I am a very proud son of Newfoundland and Labrador, and my support comes from my heart."

'As we approach the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, it's our turn now. It's our generation's memorial'- Seamus O'Regan 

A First World War Exhibition advisory committee has also been put together, to provide assistance with development. 

Co-chair Seamus O'Regan called the exhibit "our generation's memorial." 

"From the National War Memorial in downtown St. John's, to the Trail of the Caribou monuments erected in France and Belgium, generations before us have worked to honour the stories and sacrifices of the First World War," said O'Regan. 

"As we approach the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, it's our turn now."