A row of a dozen medals shimmers beneath a protective glass case. They were earned and worn proudly by Group Captain Everett Baudoux, a Stellarton-born World War Two veteran. Among his decorations hang a distinguished flying cross for "an act of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".
While he passed away at age 90 in Merigomish in 2009, his incredible story, along with the stories of thousands of other Pictou County men and women who answered the call to serve King and country, lives on.
A new display is under construction at the Museum of Industry to present these stories on the centenary of the start of WWI and 75th anniversary of WWII. Included is a study of a larger painting that includes Baudoux, on loan from the Canadian War Museum.
Courage and Commitment: Pictou County in the World Wars is a temporary exhibit that will run from July to September. According to Museum Director Debra McNabb, the exhibit will focus on three themes.
“Pictou County’s military contribution, industrial contribution and what took place on the home front,” she said. “Many partners have come together to make this happen.”
That includes around 20 persons or organizations that have loaned artifacts for display in the museum, including the Army Museum in Halifax, Carmichael-Stewart House, McCulloch Heritage Centre, Nova Scotia Archives and the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library.
The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has loaned six items including a nursing sister’s uniform, a trench club used for melee fighting on the battlefield and other items of interest to Pictou County.
Other items have come from private collections in households in the county.
“This display is important because people will be able to see artifacts and items that have never been displayed in public before,” said McNabb.
The exhibit is part of the Museum of Industry’s Community Conversations program and is co-curated with local historian Judith Hoegg Ryan.
According to McNabb, the volume of coal from the county was significant as rinks were converted for the construction of munitions and ships, including the 1,400 tonne War Wasp, a cargo ship, were launched in Trenton in July 1917 for the war effort.
Pictou County’s influence on the war effort is not to be overlooked. A propaganda poster on display shows a lifeless nurse held by a Canadian soldier in the North Atlantic after their ship had sunk. A life preserver reads ‘Llandovery Castle’. The caption reads ‘Kultur vs. humanity: Victory bonds will help stop this’.
The nurse portrayed could very well be New Glasgow born Margaret Marjory Fraser, daughter of Lt.-Gov. of Nova Scotia Duncan Cameron Fraser, who perished with other wounded soldiers, doctors and nurses when the Germans sunk the Canadian hospital ship in 1916.
“People are thinking about the impact the war had on the county,” said McNabb. “Whether or not they went off to fight or worked here at home, the world had changed for everyone.”
The display on WWI is linked with WWII through the living memory of those veterans still present in the county.
“I hope these items will stir up memories for some who, though didn’t serve, know the war stories of their friends and family.”
The display will be opened on Saturday for viewing until late September.
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn