Vimy Ridge remembered in clippings inside 100-year-old scrapbook in Clementsport

Published on April 10, 2017

The scrapbook is over 100 years old, and contains many newspaper cut outs relating to the First World War, and Vimy Ridge specifically. Two obituaries for Pte. Eldon Leroy Morine and Pte. George O. Wentzell, both of Bear River and both of whom died at Vimy, are featured in the scrapbook..

©Sara Ericsson

DIGBY, NS - As Canadians mark the Vimy Ridge Centennial April 9, a piece of its history sits on a shelf inside the Clements Historical Society archives.

It is a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings about Vimy Ridge, obituaries of local fallen soldiers who died at the ridge, and other content such as poems and letters.

Things like this show us a different, more personal side of history.

Norma Vascotto

Norma Vascotto, who volunteers as the society’s archivist at the Clementsport Legion, says the item’s value is in which information its creator chose to include. Vimy Ridge affected communities across Canada, and is commonly known as the birth of Canada as a nation. This book offers a direct insight into how it affected Wilson, and potentially her community as well.

Roxy Wilson created her scrapbook within an existing book. It isn't clear exactly how old the original book is, but it's clear that it's a considerable piece of history.

©Sara Ericsson

“It’s a snapshot of the period and also what people were interested in,” she says.

“Things like this show us a different, more personal side of history.”

Wilson was the wife of Fred Wilson. She and her husband lived on Guinea Road in Clementsvale. The scrapbook was created insde an older book and its clippings are pasted directly on top of the book’s pages, which was common scrapbooking practice at the time.

“Paper was expensive, and old books with old pages presented the perfect canvas,” said Vascotto.

Around 40 per cent of the scrapbook’s content relates to the First World War, and around ten pages have been found containing content specific to Vimy Ridge.

It contains the obituaries of two men from Bear River, Private Eldon Leroy Morine and Private George O. Wentzell, who died at Vimy Ridge. The obituary of Morine’s brother, Private Donald L. Morine, is also found in the scrapbook.

It also features poems submitted to the Annapolis newspaper by locals about the war, and the last letter written by Granville Ferry native Private Clifford Ritchie before he died. An envelope sent to someone in Annapolis was also found inside the scrapbook.

This item is just one piece the archive has recently catalogued as part of a two-year project to catalogue the entire collection and create a virtual collection. The second step is scanning each document. The entire process should be completed in six months, after which anyone who wishes to view a document will be able to do so online.

The envelope of a letter from Mr. G. Shaw to his family in Annapolis, sent during the First World War, also found inside the scrapbook.

©Sara Ericsson

A digital photo archive is also being compiled by Judith Peach for the archives, and contains over 7,000 scans of images, all of which are also part of the virtual collection.

Scrapbooks and photographs represent a bottom-up method of historical research, according to Vascotto, rather than a top-down method offered by history books.

“We get a sense of what things were like directly. This is from the inside out, and this is what we get from someone who lived in the area during the war, knew people who didn’t come back and had inspirational stuff that was really important to helping them to get through a tough time for their community,” she says.