Remembering Chilliwack's contribution to the Great War
Clifford Woodworth was one of approximately 500 men from the Chilliwack area who went overseas to fight in “the Great War.”
A 1917 photo of Woodworth, his parents and siblings is one simple image of a local family during the First World War.
But look long enough and the photo tells a story: The expressions on the faces of all but Clifford seem to ooze concern, not surprising since the young man joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force three years into the war effort. In 1914, people were actually excited to sign up thinking the battle would be over by Christmas.
By 1917, the death and horrors awaiting overseas were more well understood.
“They probably knew a little bit more about what he was getting into,” said museum director Deborah Hudson of the Woodworth family.
The image is just one among many, along with artifacts and archival documents that make up the Chilliwack Museum’s upcoming exhibition: Chilliwack’s Great War: At Home and Overseas.
“The good news about that photograph is that the fellow, Clifford, did return,” Hudson said.
More than 100 soldiers, including nine Sto:lo, from the area did not come from from the supposed “war to end all wars.” The names of those who died overseas are etched on the cenotaph, but what is interesting to Hudson is how the stories of those who did survive are often overlooked.
“For obvious reasons, people wanted to remember those who passed.”
The exhibit will include personal letters to and from the trenches, wartime artifacts, items from local organizations involved in the war effort and keepsakes of remembrance.
One of the artifacts in the exhibit is a Red Cross quilt made in 1918 by the Sardis Red Cross Sewing Circle at the Thornton Family home. The quilt was made to raise money for the war effort by charging 10 cents per signature name, which was then embroidered on the quilt. The completed quilt was then raffled off to the highest bidder.
The exhibit opens on Aug. 4 from noon to 4 p.m. the 100th anniversary of the British Empire entering the war. The war involved more than 100 countries and was fought on the ground throughout most of Europe, and in parts of Asia and Africa.
During the exhibit opening on Aug. 4 the lights will be dimmed from 2 to 3 p.m. marking the decisive hour war was declared in Great Britain at 11 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1914.
• Admission to the museum is free on Aug. 4.