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Historical navy artifacts donated to Calgary archive

Navy buffs in Calgary have a whole treasure trove of historical pictures and documents to explore thanks to major donation to the University of Calgary.

Thousands of pictures and documents part of new exhibit at The Military Museums

Navy buffs in Calgary have a whole treasure trove of historical pictures and documents to explore thanks to major donation to the University of Calgary.

The ship plans, correspondence, books and documents were unveiled Thursday at The Military Museums of Calgary, located at 4520 Crowchild Trail S.W.

The University of Calgary, which manages The Military Museums Library and Archives, is curating the exhibit.

Some of the documents were classified by the defence department as top secret until recently, retired commander Greg McKenzie said.

"I'm really pleased about this. It’s been a while coming together. I'm excited and pleased to see the collection become much more accessible to our public than it was before," McKenzie said.

The thousands of items in the new exhibit were donated by historians Ken Macpherson and John Burgess.

The material chronicles Canadian Maritime history from the late 1800s to the early 21st century. It will allow anyone to trace the historical movements of Canada's naval ships, McKenzie said.

Commodore David Craig, commander of the naval reserve, did say there's irony in having such an extensive collection at a museum in a landlocked province.

University vice-provost Tom Hickerson said the donation puts the Calgary Military Museums on par with the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

All of the information will eventually be digitally archived and made available to researchers around the world.

The HMCS Assiniboine, a destroyer that served the Royal Canadian Navy throughout the Second World War. (University of Calgary )

With files from The Canadian Press