The Bomber Command Memorial and Museum in Nanton

Royal Roads prof completes War Memories documentary

A series of short films will take a closer look at important war sites across Canada, including on the West Shore.

When many Canadians think of war memorials and historical war sites, they invariably look to Europe.

The beaches of Normandy in France, the concentration camps of Germany and Poland and villages in the Netherlands all provide for spectacular educational visits, but one Royal Roads University professor hopes his latest project will help Canadians realize that a lot of historical sites exist in our own backyard as well.

Geoff Bird, who heads up the tourism management graduate program at Royal Roads in Colwood, directed and produced “War Memories across Canada,” a nearly completed project that features sites of the First and Second World War and aims to connect viewers to places in Canada that were shaped by the war effort.

The project includes a total of 27 documentaries, each running between five and 10 minutes apiece. They showcase such Canadian places as the Labrador hometown of decorated First World War hero John Shiwak, and even such local sites as the William Head Correctional Institution in Metchosin, which at one time served as a quarantine station for over 80,000 Chinese men.

Bird, who has worked as a heritage guide at the Vimy Ridge War Memorial in France, said he was always “astounded by the power of the place.”

“It’s an open field and you layer a story over it … it’s a very special place in our nation’s history,” he said.

A simple road or a beach can be transformed by a story from the past, Bird said, and that type of connection is what he hopes to evoke with this project.

“When you begin to look at these different stories, you see the massive significance that the wars had in shaping Canada as we know it today, and we often don’t know those stories. It’s important to know them, because it gives us an appreciation of what we have today.”

In addition to William Head, West Shore sites such as Fort Rodd Hill and Royal Roads are featured in the project.

Bird and his crew faced numerous challenges in completing the project, including having only eight months to spend the grant money received from the federal government.

“We had to go to places like Labrador in November … we were quite successful in getting to as many places as we did, but so many places we could not get to because of the time of year,” he said.

From an education tourism point of view, Bird hopes his project shines a light on the opportunity Canadians have to visit important war sites at home, as well as the more famous sites abroad.

“Vimy and Dieppe (in France) and Groesbeek in Holland, those are the places we go to for our war heritage experience and those are important places, there’s no doubt about it. There are also places in Canada that have additional narratives for us to learn about our past,” he said.

Documentaries from the First World War are viewable online at warheritage.royalroads.ca. Each clip includes a link to a conversation kit that aims to provide more background information and initiate discussion.

Stories from the Second World War are due to be posted later this fall.

Bird’s project is the first initiative in a broader war heritage research effort at Royal Roads.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

City of Langford mails out information on sewer connection requirement

Plan lays out obligations, exemptions and financial assistance information for the costly hookup

Update: BC Transit driver taken to hospital with serious injuries after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read