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Culture Summerside announces new project

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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Culture Summerside is again bringing attention to the soldiers of the Great War.

In 2016, Culture Summerside ran a project about the members of C Company of the 105th battalion who trained in Summerside in 1916.

Now, the current project, “1919 – P.E.I. Soldiers Return from the Great War,” will include a lecture series, commemorative event and the creation of a booklet with assistance of creative writers and volunteer researchers.

“It’s all about showing people in the community what was going on 100 years ago, in this area,” said Jean MacKay, an archivist and curatorial assistant with Culture Summerside.

While many wounded or otherwise discharged soldiers arrived home in 1917 and 1918, the majority of Canadian troops (over 267,0000 were still in France and Great Britain when the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1919, demobilization took place and Islanders could look forward to coming home.

“This project is based on the 100th anniversary of when those men came home. We want people to know that while there was the anticipation of getting the men home, there were also families that were joyous to be reunited and others that were devastated because their loved one didn’t come home and are buried overseas. That’s why we have places like Vimy Ridge and Menin Gate.”

The 2019 project is funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage. MacKay said receiving funding was a year in the making.

“I’m really looking forward to it all culminating into the final event, as well as the other little part that play together in the project.”

Currently, volunteers are being sought to take part in research by reading on microfilm several Island newspapers that existed in 1918-1919. The findings will act as the backbone of the information booklet that will be published in recognition of the return of the soldiers. A section of the booklet will also contain selections of creative writing to be inspire by images found in the newspapers.

In addition, a lecture series is being planned for late spring. One presenter, Louise Morris, who has done extensive research on members of the 105th Battalion, will provide some history on the men of C Company, who were mainly from Prince County.

The project will culminate in a public event on Sunday, May 26, with an emphasis on commemorating the return of the largest group of returned soldiers, who returned on May 18, 1919. The afternoon will include music, drama, the booklet launch and serve as a lasting reminder of the year the soldiers of the Great War came home.

Those interested in volunteers can call 9020-432-1332 or email archives@city.summerside.pe.ca.

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