Manitoba

Something to remember: The Frederick D. Baragar collection

Beginning November 2014, internet users can experience World War I vicariously through hundreds of letters Frederick D. Baragar wrote home to Elm Creek, man. while serving in the First World War.

The University of Manitoba archives is starting Remembrance Day early.

On Nov. 5, the department published the first of hundreds of letters from Frederick D. Baragar, a Canadian man who fought in the First World War.

The letters give internet users an opportunity experience the war vicariously through Baragar's written words; the same ones he sent home to Elm Creek, man. nearly one hundred years ago.

According to archivist Andrea Martin, each letter will be published precisely a century from the date Baragar wrote them. At that rate, the complete collection will be available online by 2019.

Baragar's family donated the letters to the university in 2008.

The archives department is using short-form blogging platform Tumblr to publish the letters, and those working on the project are planning to put up additional material that will help their online following understand life during the war. 

The first letter was published on Tumblr on Nov. 5 and in it, Baragar writes home to ask his father to send him money. 

Baragar may have been short on cash because he was a student before enlisting to fight in World War I. According to Martin, Baragar earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Manitoba in 1914. Shortly after he transferred to the University of Toronto, where he was working on an education degree when he enlisted to fight in the war.

Baragar went overseas in 1915. He returned to Canada for a brief training session in 1917 and went back to the war until its end in 1918.

“He’s optimistic and committed as a solider for sure in the early letters," Martin said. "He does have low points, particularly when he’s missing people. That’s very clear, that he misses everyone at home and wants to be with them when he’s away."

According to Martin, Baragar wrote twice as many letters to his fiancé as he did to his family. Baragar safely returned to Manitoba in 1919 and they married.

"It’s quite a nice story, which is often rare for war stories. They’re often very sad. It still has tragic elements, of course, but it’s got a nice ending," Martin said.

Martin plans to publish Baragar's next letter at the end of November. All letters and additional material are available for viewing at umarchives.tumblr.com

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