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The Canadian Letters and Images Project

Nanaimo Museum's Feature Exhibit Canada 150: Centennial Stories

Nanaimo Museum - February 17-September 5
The Canadian Letters and Images Project

Celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary with stories that intersect local and national history. Centennial Stories highlights Nanaimo in 1867, the E&N Railway, the local response to WWI, the Battle of Vimy Ridge 100th anniversary and the colourful celebrations for past centennials. The exhibit runs from February 17-September 5.

The exhibit takes a unique approach by looking at different chapters in Nanaimo's history. Those chapters include Nanaimo in the 1860s at the time of Canadian confederation, the E&N Railway for its role in satisfying the terms of BC joining Canada, Nanaimo during WWI and centennial celebrations in Nanaimo. "Each section of Centennial Stories features artifacts and images from Nanaimo's history," says Aimee Greenaway, Interpretation Curator at the Nanaimo Museum. "National history is an undercurrent, especially the Battle of Vimy Ridge which is considered by many to be a Canadian identity defining event." The Battle's centennial occurs during the exhibit.

From lighthearted past centennial celebrations to a sobering look at Nanaimo during WWI, Centennial Stories appeals to a variety of interests and age groups. One of the most unusual artifacts is a piece of the World's Biggest Cake was made in Nanaimo almost 60 years ago. The 1,000lb cake was made for BC's centennial and was cut by HRH Princess Margaret in Nanaimo. Pieces of the cake were cut, sealed in plastic and distributed in small boxes. "We have a few 1958 souvenir boxes in our collection," says Greenaway. "I was surprised to find one box still contains a piece of cake." Members of some generations may remember the custom of saving fruitcake from important events like weddings.

Nanaimo Museum

Centennial Stories provides a rare opportunity to view an artifact from the Canadian Centre for the Great War and a private local collection. "A Canadian Service Flag from 1917 has been flown in from Montreal for this exhibit," says Greenaway. "And a local family is loaning artifacts from one of their ancestors who was killed in WWI."

The museum is also pleased to be partnering with Vancouver Island University on the Canadian Letters & Images Project. The Canadian Letters and Images Project is an online archive of the Canadian war experience, from any war, as told through the letters and images of Canadians themselves. Through the digitization of contemporary letters, diaries, photographs, and other related materials, the Project permits Canadians to tell their story, and Canada's story, through their own words and images. It is history without a lens of interpretation by the present. Photographs, maps and materials from past centennials are on loan from the Nanaimo Archives.

The Nanaimo Museum is hosting a presentation for this exhibit on Wednesday, March 1 and August 2 from 1:30-2:15. Pre-registration is required and the cost is $5 per person. At the presentation, visitors will join exhibit curator, Aimee Greenaway, to hear highlights from the exhibit.

The museum is open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm. The Nanaimo Museum is located in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, beside Serious Coffee. For more information please visit www.nanaimomuseum.ca or call 250 753-1821.