First World War remembered

Foothills: Ceremony, exhibit, honour lost soldiers

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 10:28 am

Turner Valley Legion members pay their tributes at a cenotaph ceremony on July 24.
Turner Valley Legion members pay their tributes at a cenotaph ceremony on July 24.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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This week marks an entire century since the beginning of World War One, and Foothills residents are doing their part to make sure that those who were lost are not forgotten.

“100 years ago, the world went over the edge,” said Veteran Syd Barker at a cenotaph ceremony at the Turner Valley Legion on July 24.

A piper led in the flag bearers to begin the ceremony, where Comrades addressed the crowd and Rev. Alan Getty recited prayers. Many laid their poppies at the crosses and then saluted quietly as they paid their respects. Barker said for him, those moments of silence are time for him to reflect not just on the thousands who sacrificed from 1914-1918, but to remember the many who were lost afterwards too.

“I was reflecting on the soldiers that I’ve buried while I was in the service,” said Barker, who served in the Navy and with the PPCLI, doing two tours in Nato, Germany. “I'm particularly aware of the history that this country has and what we've done over the years from the world war one until now, and I can vouch that people know a Canadian service man and they just feel some kind of comradeship toward them no matter where they are.”

Legion President Michel Jackson said it’s important to have ceremonies so that the sacrifices that were made are never forgotten.

“It's to commemorate and show appreciation for the sacrifices of those who went before us. They were all kids back then 18-19, some lied about their age and were only 16 out there,” Jackson said. “It's something we need to commemorate as an organization and as a nation, we have to keep the memory alive to show appreciation when we can and this is one of those times.”

The museum of the Highwood in High River is also planning to open an exhibit on Aug. 4 called “Riding off to War” to commemorate the anniversary. The exhibit features artifacts from four players of the Pekisko Polo Club, near the Bar U Ranch, who enlisted in the war in 1915 and never returned.

“It focuses on the Pekisko polo team, and it tells the story of them as a polo team but mostly about their military actions,” said Olivia Cornwall from the museum.

“They enlisted 6 months after the war began for the cavalry as polo players were particularly good for cavalry because they knew how to handle the horses very well.”

Cornwall said the exhibit depicts the history of where the men travelled, what they saw, and the friendship that existed between them. Three of the men died in battle, and one survived but never came back to Canada.

“They all signed up together on the same day for the same unit, so I kind of get the feeling that they wanted to stay together,” She said. “And unfortunately that didn't happen. The one who survived didn't come back so I have a feeling there was nothing left for him here and I think it was too painful for him to come back.”

Cornwall said the idea behind the exhibit is to remind people that while the war was 100 years ago, it still impacted people in our area and should be remembered.

“Other than it being an event that changed the world and Canada, I think it's important to realize that we have stories as well and there were men and women from here that were willing to sacrifice themselves,” Cornwall said. “And I think it took an extraordinary amount of bravery.”


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