Most museums have attractive landscaping to draw visitors. Port Moody Station Museum, at the back of its Murray Street property, has some wooden buildings dug into the dirt and a muddy field of barbed wire and weeds.
But that’s OK, as the goal is historic, not esthetic.
Dug by hand by a group of volunteers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, what looks like a wasteland is, in fact, an educational display depicting life in the trenches during the Great War.
John Goheen and Markus Fahrner, who were among the volunteers (along with Port Moody’s Guy Black) that designed and built the trench, are hoping the display will help people connect with this important period of Canadian history.
“These kinds of artifacts help people to connect, they are gateways, they create an image that people can relate to and hopefully take way and decide whether it’s worth remembering,” says Fahrner, a graphic artist who has designed the banners for the WWI project.
“It’s pretty close to what it actually looks like,” says Goheen, speaking of the replica trench, living quarters and no-man’s-land full of craters and barbed wire.
With winter approaching, the living quarters are damp and cold, not unlike what it must have been for soldiers in the month of November during the war.
Next week, in the days leading up to Remembrance Day, a candlelight vigil will be held in the trench, with the community invited, and there will be a presentation about Passchendaele, a battle fought by Canadian Corps soldiers from mid-October to mid-November 1917.
Goheen, a local school principal and battlefield tour guide, says the Canadians distinguished themselves against great odds and terrible conditions. On Nov. 6, 1917, the Canadians and British attacked to take the village of Passchendaele and on Nov. 10, Canadians cleared the Germans from the eastern edge of Passchendaele Ridge.
Goheen said the Canadians had become an elite fighting force but the battle took its toll — more than 4,000 were killed and 12,000 were wounded in Passchendaele.
“It’s universal that this is a colossal waste,” he said. “The best advocates for peace are veterans who never want to see it again.”
But Fahrner and Goheen hope people turn out for the Great War talk to learn more about the battle and the role Canadians played in it because the more understanding there is, the less chance there is that it will happen again.
• The Great War Talk on Passchendaele takes place inside the Port Moody Station Museum, 2734 Murray St., Port Moody on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. It’s free to attend but you’re asked to RSVP at 604-939-1648.
• The Candlelight Vigil for Remembrance takes place Thursday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. at the Port Moody Station Museum.
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