New website highlights Thunder Bay life during the First World War

Letters, photographs, stories and other records are part of a new online exhibit showcasing life in Thunder Bay during the First World War.

Letters, photos, records part of newly-launched online exhibit

Jesse Roberts, a community hub librarian with the Thunder Bay Public Library, scrolls through the new World War One Centennial Project website at its launch on Tuesday, at the Brodie Library. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

Letters, photographs, stories and other records are part of a new online exhibit showcasing life in Thunder Bay during the First World War.

A new website for the World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project features historical wartime documents and other items from a number of community organizations — including Thunder Bay's public library, museum, and military museum, as well as the City of Thunder Bay archives and Lakehead University's history department — and community members, who shared family stories.

Those family stories "otherwise would have remained in attics, or would have remained in scrapbooks," said Jesse Roberts, community hub librarian and learning supervisor with the Thunder Bay Public Library, adding that the project "really goes to show just what Thunder Bay is, and was, capable of, at a difficult time in world history."

The library and its partners have been working on the project since 2014, but the new standalone website was officially launched on Tuesday.

Previously, the project had an online presence as part of the library's website, and to date it's attracted more than 100,000 online visitors, Roberts said. 

Multiple sources

The site will be a great tool for people who want to delve into local history said Dave Nicholson, a researcher who contributed some information to the project

"This new website for the WWI Centennial Project is just an incredible resource because it brings multiple sources such as the letters from the war, the death notices, and even the attestation papers from when the soldiers signed up," he said. "It brings it under one website, which, when you're doing research ... you sometimes have to go to many different locations to find what you're looking for.

"So to have a resource like this, it just brings it under one umbrella and makes it very convenient."