CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum to open two new exhibits

A sneak preview of CFB Esquimalt’s new exhibit on the First World War- a travelling exhibit lent by the Royal BC Museum. The official opening of the two new exhibits is open to the public April 15 at 10:15 am.

A sneak preview of CFB Esquimalt’s new exhibit on the First World War- a travelling exhibit lent by the Royal BC Museum. The official opening of the two new exhibits is open to the public April 15 at 10:15 am.

Rachel Lallouz, Staff Writer ~

Commemorating the loss of HMCS Esquimalt.

CFB Esquimalt’s Naval and Military Museum will open its first permanent, commemorative display depicting the loss of HMCS Esquimalt on Friday, April 15 at 10:15 a.m.
HMCS Esquimalt was the last Canadian ship to be lost in the Second World War after being torpedoed off the coast of Halifax April 16, 1945 – three weeks before the end of the war.

“I find the story of this ship so poignant and powerful, and so strongly connected to the community of Esquimalt,” says Clare Sharpe, Museum Exhibit Designer.

“I feel real sorrow for the sailors who lost their lives so late in the war. I’m glad we’ll be paying them the respect they deserve through this commemoration.”

For the past year, Sharpe has worked to track down photographs of the ship, and to select memorabilia and artefacts to put in the display.

Along with Danny Glubus, owner of Suite Signs, Sharpe developed informational panels about the ship using articles written by Robert Fisher.

The display will also showcase a watch that was worn by sailor Joe Wilson when the ship sank.

“He was the last to die, from the small group of people who survived the sinking, so it’s a very emotional and significant piece to include,” says Sharpe.

On Saturday, April 16 at 11 a.m. the annual HMCS Esquimalt commemorative ceremony will take place at 1229 Esquimalt Road. The ceremony will be co-hosted by Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt and the Township of Esquimalt.  Base Commander, Captain (Navy) Steve Waddell and the Township of Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins will join members of the community to further honour the service and sacrifice of the crew of HMCS Esquimalt.

The Great War comes to a museum near you.

Also opening on the morning of Friday, April 15, at the military museum is the Royal BC Museum’s new travelling exhibit about the First World War.

“The Great War had a monumental impact on the formation of British Columbia as a political entity with its own emerging sense of identity,” says the Royal BC Museum’s CEO, Professor Jaca Lohman.

He adds this particular exhibit will show how the province merged around the traumatic event, as soldiers and nurses from all corners and ethnic groups of B.C. signed up for service.  
Informational banners and a video display will detail B.C.’s involvement in the First World War from 1914 to 1918.

The exhibit’s broader aim will be to educate British Columbians about the contributions of their forbearers.

“Anybody who sees the exhibit will come away with a better understanding of that conflict and how it affected the country and the whole world,” says Sharpe. “To cooperate with the Royal B.C. Museum is just a fantastic opportunity for us.”

The exhibit, says Sharpe, is a collaborative effort. From its own collection and loans from private collectors, CFB Esquimalt’s Naval and Military Museum has  contributed First World War-themed photos and memorabilia, including hand-embroidered handkerchiefs and pillowcases that were used as personal keepsakes by Canadian soldiers.

In partnership with Esquimalt Municipal Archives, photos from the period will be displayed that highlight the war’s impact on the local community.

CFB Esquimalt will be the first location in B.C. to host the exhibit, before it makes its way throughout the province.

 

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