P.E.I. student brings family home a piece of history

Hannah Hardy of Albany, P.E.I., says she will be thinking of Remembrance Day in a different way this year after her recent trip to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park.

Great-great uncle remembered by student 99 years after death

Vimy Ridge, Restored Monument: View of the Lower Terrace, 2008 (Peter MacCallum)

Hannah Hardy of Albany, P.E.I., says she will be thinking of Remembrance Day in a different way this year after her recent trip to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial Park.

The Grade 12 student at Three Oaks High School was one of 16 winners of the Beaverbrook Vimy prize who spent two weeks visiting England, Belgium and France on a two week educational scholarship program.

As part of the program, students had to pick a veteran and present the research they did at the person's grave or where they were remembered.

"My soldier was Private Douglas Campbell, he was from Alberton and he was my great-great uncle."

Hardy said she picked Campbell because she wanted to get to know more about a relative no one really knew or talked about.

Family history

"It was so neat to explore my own history," Hardy told Mainstreet's host Angela Walker.

Hannah Hardy says her visit to Vimy Ridge to remember her great-great uncle killed in the First World War has made her more aware of the significance of Remembrance Day. (Facebook)

Hardy said she learned Campbell enlisted in Charlottetown when he was 19 with the 105th Highlanders, P.E.I.'s only battalion and was from a family of 12 children.

Hardy said her great-great uncle travelled to Liverpool, England where he was moved to the 13th Battalion.

"He fought at Pas-de-Calais near Vimy Ridge and died on August 15, 1917," she said.

Hardy was unable to find a gravesite for Campbell for her to visit.

"His name was remembered on the Vimy Memorial. So it was really neat, I got to go up and find his name on the memorial and then take a (charcoal) rubbing of it. I was able to bring that back home which was very awesome and it was so neat to show my parents and my family that."

'So many lost'

Hardy said she was very saddened by what they saw and learned about the First World War on their visits to museums and cemeteries.

"There was so many lost during that period of time but when I actually found his name and I took my hand and I traced the letters, I got a sense of almost peace. I was at peace with what had happened."

Hardy said it made her more aware of how important it was for her to bring the tracing back home to her family. She said each student on the trip was moved in their own way.

"There was so many times we'd get to a gravesite and somebody would do their presentation on their soldier and then we'd have numerous people just moved to tears because it was such heavy topics. Others were more solemn and silent and more reflective."

Carving by H. D. Schofield on the walls of a quarry at Vimy Ridge. (Courtesy of The Royal Montreal Regiment Museum )
Hardy said they visited an underground chalk quarry where the soldiers were billeted before being sent to fight at Vimy Ridge.

"There they wrote in the walls and made little drawings, so we were able to see that."

Hardy said the trip offered a different learning experience because of how much she was able to take in first hand.

"It's definitely made me more aware, aware of where I've come from, aware of what's happened in the past and where Canada has gotten to where it is today which I think is especially important for people my age because I find there's almost a lack of knowledge surrounding the First World War and the Second World War."

With files from Mainstreet