Monday, 21 November 2016

The silk postcard from France, and a museum in British Columbia

Now a few days ago I featured one of the silk embroidered postcards from the Great War.

Souvenir de France, 1917
I have been a fan of them ever since I began the book on Manchester and the Great War and my friend David Harrop showed me a new one which carried the name of the RMS Melita.*

And as you do I went looking for the ship which I found along with quite a bit of interesting history, but what really caught my eye was an article by Annette Fulford who had written about the Canadian War Brides some of whom went over in the Melita after the war.**

The nuseum in 2015
It was a fascinating story and pointed up that I knew nothing about these war brides.

Of course most of us will have heard of the GI Brides from the Second World War who left a drab and tired Britain still recovering from the war.

And grim it was.

Rationing didn’t stop until the early 1950s, there continued to be shortages of all kinds and for a kid like me growing at the time, bomb sites were a natural place to play.

But it never occurred to me that there should be Canadian War brides and certainly not from the Great War.

Thus is ignorance challenged and what a story it is.

Inside the museum, 2015
And that led me to a conversation with Ms Fulford who shared an article about another Canadian silk which simply carried the message Souvenir de France, and the dates 1914, 1915, 1916 and 1917.***

On the reverse Private A Wildgoose,  nu 234719 of the 52 Battalions, Canadians had written to his mother in November 1917.

The message is short, reassuring but records that “I have had no mail for over a week.”

Annette went on to research the story behind Private Wildgoose, but for that you will have to follow the link to the article which was published in the Family Newsletter of the Maple Ridge Historical Society which is in British Columbia.

The Phonograph, 1950 on display at the museum
All of which means that by degree not only have I met someone new, learnt a bit about a Canadian soldier but have “bagged” another historical society.

And so while other people collect stamps, bottle tops and those small picture cards with came in packets of cigarettes and tea, I hoover up historical societies.

I don’t join them all but I read their newsletters revel in what they have to say about the history of their locality and pass on the link to friends.

So I shall just close with the description of their museum which tells me that is “located in Maple Ridge between the Lougheed Highway and Haney Bypass at 22520 116th Ave.

Silk with the regimental badge of the Manchester's circa 1916
The museum is housed in the former Manager’s home for Port Haney Brick & Tile. 

We are a community museum featuring First Nations Prehistory, history of settlement and prominent families and feature a world-class model railway diorama of the Port Haney area at the height of the railway logging era..”****

All of which leaves me to reflect just how far you can travel with one silk postcard.

Location; Maple Ridge BC

Pictures; silk postcard, 1917 courtesy of Annette Fulford, the Maple Rdige Museum, 2015 courtesy of  Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives and remaining silk postcards circ 1916-1918 from the collection of David Harrop

*Manchester Remembering 1914-18 by Andrew Simpson will be published by the History Press in February 2017

**Canadian War Brides of the First World War

***Capturing a moment in time Souvenir Postcard from WW1

****Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives, 

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