Visitors to the Museum of Industry in Stellarton this summer will have the opportunity to explore an exhibit commemorating the 100th and 75th anniversaries of the start of the First World War and the Second World War.
The temporary exhibit, Courage and Commitment: Pictou County in the World Wars, focuses on the county’s contribution to the war effort at home and overseas. It also highlights the industrial contribution Pictou County made during the wars. The exhibit was created in partnership with many other Nova Scotia museums and special loans from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
“Curating this exhibit has been a humbling and rewarding experience,” said co-curator Judith Hoegg Ryan. “Learning of the courage and dedication of Pictonians on both the battle and home fronts has left me with refreshed appreciation of the personal sacrifices made for our freedom, yesterday and yet today. I trust Pictonians and visitors will leave the exhibit with renewed gratitude and pride in their past.”
Many of the more than 100 artifacts have likely never been seen before, and each tell a story. They include a small brass box with a card from Princess Mary containing chocolate and tobacco that was given to each British and Commonwealth overseas soldier at Christmas in 1914. There is also a death penny, which is a small brass plaque in a box that was sent to families of all British Commonwealth soldiers killed in World War I.
“The items in the exhibit remind people that the wars were extremely difficult times for people close to home in Nova Scotia,” said Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince. “I thank the team at the Museum of Industry and the individual contributors from the community for examining Pictou County’s important role in supporting the war efforts.”
Some stories, such as the impressive production from the area’s coal mines, steel mill, and shipyard, may be unique to Pictou County. Others, of military bravery and leadership, heartache and sacrifice, but also of some liberating good times, may evoke the wartime memories of Nova Scotians and others who lived through, or knew, those challenging times.
“From attics and photo albums, Pictonians have brought us some of their most meaningful family keepsakes to share with our community and visitors,” said Debra McNabb, museum director. “These mementos are at once deeply moving, and at other times cold reminders of what Canadians experienced when war took over everyday life. We are grateful for their participation in our exhibit, part of our Community Conversations program.”
The exhibit is open from July 26 until Sept. 28. For more information, go to http://museumofindustry.novascotia.ca/ .