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Rare First World War film footage on display at Royal B.C. Museum

The Royal B.C. Museum will launch its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War with a new installation in Clifford Carl Hall on Monday (Aug. 4), the first part of a continuing project to mark the historic milestone.

The centrepiece of the First World War –also known as the Great War – installation is a series of four videos painstakingly put together by Royal B.C. Museum archivist Dennis J. Duffy.

Answering the Call features rare footage of Canadian troops training in Victoria, Vancouver and Comox and of their departure for Eastern Canada and, ultimately, the battlefields of Europe.

“Our task at the museum is to cultivate a spirit of remembrance, especially when there are no more survivors of the Great War,” said Jack Lohman, Royal B.C. Museum CEO.

“Through projects like this we hope more objects, archives, photographs and films emerge from the depths of our collections and are shared for the benefit of all”.

Footage for Answering the Call comes from 10 reels of film preserved in Library and Archives Canada. Eight of the reels contain raw, unedited footage, with little information about their content.

The other two reels were shot by pioneering B.C. filmmaker A.D. (Cowboy) Kean, who attempted to document every unit that left the province to serve in the Great War.

Duffy has taken all of this footage – some severely deteriorated, most of it unidentified – and constructed a poignant and meaningful visual story, set to music, conveying the optimism and enthusiasm of recruits as they trained and departed for a conflict of unimaginable violence.

 

Commemoration will continue in fall 2014 with the digitization and online publishing of 5,000 pages of letters and diaries from the B.C. Archives related to the First World War.

 

 

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