Thunder Bay Centennial Project commemorates WWI
Online exhibit will chronicle the impact of the Great War on the Lakehead
Around the world people are marking the hundred year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.
In Thunder Bay, the centennial is being marked with the launch of a four year project to collect stories and artifacts, in order to add them to an online exhibit.
"We want to turn it into a people's project," said John Pateman, CEO of the Thunder Bay Public Library, the lead partner in the project.
"So that the people of Thunder Bay become part of it. They contribute their family histories. They dig out their family photos, letters, journals - any information relating to the World War One centenary will be very welcome.
"We wanted to really locate all of that in Thunder Bay, bring it all home to our local community to find out what it meant to the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, and to look at the impact of the war on the Lakehead."
The library will work with a number of community partners including the City of Thunder Bay, Lakehead University, the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Centre and the Thunder Bay Military Museum.
Research reveals rich history
As part of the Centennial Project, he's been researching notable soldiers from the region, including Captain Christopher O'Kelly, a member of the 52nd Battalion who earned the Victoria Cross for his role in the Battle of Passchendaele.
But there are also many stories about how the war impacted day to day life in the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, said Romick.
For one thing, soldiers were posted at some of the local grain elevators to guard against sabotage.
"Part of the concern was that probably with the elevators the grain was shipped over to England for food," said Romick. "And if by chance they did blow up an elevator, or destroy it, that would slow down some of the part of the food that would be going over to England to support the war."
Romick said some people are already responding to the call for contributions to the Centennial Project, and he looks forward to hearing new stories that will be discovered over the next four years.
"I think there's still a lot more pictures, information out there," he said.