Photos by: Ann Kornuta
In order to better remember, respect and recognise those who have served their country, Milton Branch 136 of the Royal Canadian Legion’ revitalized its displays at the Remembrance Hall and was open to the public on April 2nd. 2017. This first phase featured a WW1 gallery in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Eventually memorabilia from WW2 and later conflicts will be displayed.
As the brochure states:
From the peaceful streets and towns like Milton, young men and women answered the call to serve at sea, on land and in the air. They were injured, died or returned to their homes to resume constructive lives as civilians…As events and memories dim with the passage of time it becomes more important that we remember and that young people have the opportunity to learn from the lessons of the past.
Three momentous events took place in Milton on April 2nd. 2017: the rededication of the War Memorial in Victoria Park; a time to remember Canadian sacrifice and heroism at Vimy Ridge, France; and the opening of the revitalized Remembrance Hall in Branch 136 of the Royal Canadian Legion on Charles Street.
On that day, the procession of veterans, dignitaries and pipe bands moved along Main Street from the Legion to Victoria Park. A Remembrance Parade is always a poignant event, but as an onlooker pointed out: on April 2nd, there were more people in the parade than lined the street.
Rededication of the monument, similar to the November Remembrance Ceremony, was led by the Mayor, and attended by a sizeable group of Milton citizens. Heroism at Vimy Ridge was remembered and honoured; the War Memorial was rededicated and wreaths were laid; anthems were sung, and the moment of silence was given followed by the trumpet call and the rousing sound of the pipes.
Later that afternoon, citizens were invited to attend the ceremony to open the newly revitalized Remembrance Museum at the Legion. At the entrance to the Museum on the third floor, is a large photograph of Uriah Joseph Waters next to which is a sign that reads: ‘the namesake of Branch 136…born in England in 1896…When the First World War broke out in 1914 Joe was living in Milton…… enlisted in the 98th Battalion as soon as he turned 18….A noted sniper, Waters saw a great deal of action in Europe….finally returned home to Milton in November 1919. Joe Waters was an active member of the Milton community who played his bugle, a skill he learned from his father, at local Remembrance Day Ceremonies for more than 50 years.
Inside the Museum is an impressive collection of memorabilia that honours the lives of Milton and area citizens who volunteered to take part in World War1. Many fascinating artefacts are included in the exhibition, among which are:
- A photograph of ‘The Brass Band of the 164th Battalion in Milton, Ontario. During WW1 most units had brass or pipe bands that would play for the troops….these bands improved the morale of troops and were used to keep the unit marching in order.
- Canadian shoulder titles worn to help distinguish Canadian soldiers from other British Empire troops during WW1.
- A brass box (once filled with tobacco, chocolate and other items) presented to every British Empire soldier on Christmas day 1914 by King George V.
- A group of soldiers pictured in front of Knox, Milton. They were the Grenadiers, known as the Bomb Throwers who used grenades to clear enemy trenches in WW1.
- A Panoramic view of Camp Borden, 1916. The 164th Battalion, in which many Milton soldiers served, is encamped at the top of the photograph. The 164th was a unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was sent overseas in the spring of 1917.
In another area of the Museum are prints of paintings of the military created by internationally renowned David Craig who was present at the reopening ceremony.
Also can be seen is a framed copy of John McCrae’s handwritten poem, ‘In Flanders Fields,’ of which memorable, heartrending lines read:
“To you in failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”
To visit the Museum, please call the branch at 905 878 9005. There is no admission charge but donations are welcome to defray costs. The brochure states that groups are very welcome. ‘Part of the revitalised facility includes a high definition television with DVD player…..and includes seating for up to 30 for presentations.’