Epilogues to War: Commemorating and Memorializing the Canadian Contribution in the Great War

2019, History, Royal Canadian Military Institute
Canada, commemoration, First World War, memorial, military, poppy, soldier, uniforms, veterans, war
About This Project

Date: April 15, 2019 – April 15, 2020

Partner: Royal Canadian Military Institute

Location: Sixth Floor Display Case

Project Members: Anna England and Connor Kurtz


Epilogues to War is a Canadian military history exhibition that showcases how Canadian soldiers from the First World War were commemorated at home and how those who died were memorialized overseas. Epilogues to War is a contemplative exhibition that seeks to educate RCMI members and the general public on the Canadian contribution during the First World War and illustrate how the nation grieved in the aftermath. This exhibition is intended for an audience that can understand and appreciate the significance of Canada’s military heritage.
Epilogues to War will be installed on the 6th floor of the RCMI, which is located at 426 University Avenue in Toronto, Ontario. With the centenary of the end of the First World War having recently occurred, the RCMI was seeking to develop an exhibition on a topic from the immediate post-First World War period. We knew that we could contribute to this objective. In addition, the RCMI has the largest collection of Canadian military artifacts in Toronto and, because the team members have an academic background in Canadian military history, we felt this was an appropriate venue to host an exhibition we felt passionate about.
The RCMI Museum staff and Committee members contributed to this exhibition throughout its development, providing constructive criticism, funding advice, and potential artifacts to include. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission provided archival images used in the exhibition. The Vimy Foundation also provided their colourized photos from the First World War that are featured in the exhibit. Images of the church featured throughout the exhibit were given to the team by St. Thomas’s Anglican Church. Artifacts were acquired from The Canadian Centre for the Great War in Montreal, the RCMI Museum, and Victor Taboika, a private collector.
The development of Epilogues to War began in September, 2018. Determining the subject matter and scope of this exhibition occurred in the first month of planning, followed by four months of research and creating our exhibition layout. In February, 2019, artifacts to be featured in the exhibit that were held outside of the RCMI were retrieved or their shipping arrangements were organized. During the last week of February and into the month of March, we wrote and finalized our didactic panels, and submitted the final layout of Epilogues to War to our exhibition designer. Any final edits or minor changes occurred in the last weeks of March. Epilogues to War is currently being prepared for installation and will be installed on April 15th. An exhibition opening event will take place on April 18th and invitations will be sent to our sponsors, supporters, family and friends to attend.
Epilogues to War is a museum case featuring a combination of artifacts, photos, and didactic text. The artifacts on display include a First World War Canadian chaplain’s uniform, a post-war poppy, a death penny and accompanying Mother’s Cross, and a temporary wood grave marker from June 2 & 3, 1916. The images on display will feature planning documents from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a death notification telegram, stained glass from a First World War memorial church, and colourized photos from the immediate post-war period. Artifacts and images will be displayed in front of a backdrop of a burial on the Western Front during the War, as well as the baptistery from a church in Toronto that was created as a war memorial.
The marketing for Epilogues to War has occurred primarily from the RCMI. Advertisements for the exhibition, and requests for donations, have been featured in the RCMI monthly newsletter and the member’s newsletter. In addition, the University of Toronto has been advertising our exhibition throughout the student body. Although the exhibition has yet to be installed, our stakeholders have assured us that they will be including the announcement of the unveiling of Epilogues to War on their social media. Because their artifacts are on display in this exhibition, The Vimy Foundation, The Centre for the Great War, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have agreed to publicize Epilogues to War upon its unveiling.
The audience that we expect to have for this exhibition include a wide variety of visitors. RCMI members will be the primary audience, as well as individuals who will be staying in the accommodations on the 6th floor. We also expect visitors from the University of Toronto and other students in the first year of the MMSt program who are hoping to see a finalized student exhibition project. Epilogues to War will be on display for an entire year, and we are anticipating that events that occur throughout the year will bring in new visitors who will also have the opportunity to see our exhibition.
We would like thank all of our supporters and everyone who helped bring this exhibition to life. In particular, we would like to extend our gratitude to the RCMI, the Vimy Foundation, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, St. Thomas’s Anglican Church, the Canadian Centre for the Great War, and Victor Taboika. We would also like to thank the RCMI curators, Ryan Goldsworthy and Gregory Loughton and our graphic designer, Gord Hargraft at Pan Designs. We are also extremely grateful to everyone who donated to Epilogues to War and hope that they are proud of the outcome of their contribution.