BC | Canada 150 Grant Recipient Project Highlights

Alberni Valley Museum

Project: Home Front: WWII in British Columbia
Funding Received: $21,000

In 2017,the Alberni Valley Museum commemorated the 75th anniversary of the changes experienced in the province in 1942 following Japan’s entry into WWII. It did so through the creation of the exhibit “Home Front: WWII in British Columbia,” in partnership with the Royal BC Museum.

“Home Front” presents a perspective that is not often examined in WWII exhibitions. Rather than focus on the trenches overseas, this project considers local experiences and memories in the context of global, national, and provincial events.The commemoration of this shared experience evokes strong feelings in many by presenting the social solidarity of the “Home Front” and the war effort – in conjunction with the massive dislocation of Japanese Canadians, changing gender roles, and stresses between residents and military interest.

It casts a light on a period that is remembered by many and captures information from a disappearing cohort of residents that lived through WWII in British Columbia. It engages local seniors, bringing back childhood memories and experiences – many poignant stories of how the community and Province “used to be.” Significantly, it recognizes and commemorates their experiences and the ways in which they worked toward the success of the nation.

“Home Front” looks at provincial themes and commemorates events including Japanese internment, the construction of military camps and defense infrastructure, women entering the industrial workforce, impacts on First Nations communities, the development of Home Guard military units, blackouts, and rationing.

The project engaged community members, some of whom contributed memories, stories and artifacts for display.

As a travelling exhibit, this commemorative experience will be shared by many around the Province.