Ev­ery Fri­day is a remembrance day for Karen Auck­land.

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - REMEMBRANCE DAY - By Eric Bun­nell

That’s the day of the week the South­wold na­tive un­locks and opens a large glass case in a hall off the St. Thomas-El­gin Gen­eral Hospi­tal atrium, dons white gloves and turns over a lambskin page of the El­gin County Book of Remembrance.

It’s a tra­di­tion which dates to old Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal, built in 1923-1924 on Pearl St. to hon­our those who served in the First World War.

The Book of Remembrance lists names and de­tails First World War ser­vice of some 2,250 men and women who en­listed in El­gin.

It orig­i­nally was placed in the ro­tunda of the Pearl St. hospi­tal un­til the build­ing was closed with the con­struc­tion in 1990 and open­ing of STEGH’s new con­tin­u­ing care cen­tre.

Cre­ated by the fa­mous de­sign­ers Wil­liam Mor­ris and Sons, and said to be hand-let­tered by the same ar­ti­san re­spon­si­ble for the Vimy Me­mo­rial, the book was pre­sented in 1931 to St. Thomas and El­gin by the nowde­funct 25th El­gin Reg­i­ment Chap­ter, IODE.

Bound in English oak with bronze bands and locks, and bear­ing a bronze maple leaf, the book bears the sim­ple pledge: “They Served. We will re­mem­ber them.”

En­sur­ing that pledge is kept has be­come a fam­ily tra­di­tion for Auck­land.

Her late fa­ther, Al­bert, started turn­ing pages with friend Don Gra­ham af­ter the two men, vol­un­teers at Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal, re­al­ized the task had been for­got­ten.

“They re­al­ized the pages were never turned. They took it upon them­selves to turn the pages.”

Gra­ham con­tin­ued fol­low­ing Al­bert Auck­land’s death, and Karen, who is a re­tired STEGH em­ployee, even­tu­ally joined him. “I was hon­oured to take Dad’s place do­ing this.” Gra­ham now has passed, as well. The book lists names of men and women who re­turned from war, as well as those who didn’t.

But two large bronze plaques on the wall be­hind the book list names of El­gin’s war dead. And when Auck­land sees a name of a fallen sol­dier in the book, she looks for it on the wall, and pauses a mo­ment to pay a com­mu­nity’s re­spect.

She says the Book of Remembrance re­minds her of, “The sac­ri­fice that peo­ple made. That fam­i­lies made – in a few places, there are two or three sons who didn’t come back. The sac­ri­fice that fam­i­lies made for our free­dom and for our coun­try.”

For Remembrance Day, she will turn to the page which lists hero El­lis Well­wood Sifton, the Wal­lace­town na­tive who re­ceived the Vic­to­ria Cross for gal­lantry at Vimy. The medal was awarded posthu­mously – he was killed in ac­tion wip­ing out an en­emy ma­chine gun nest.

Auck­land will place a poppy next to Sifton’s name, and one in each cor­ner of the book’s case.

A tran­scrip­tion of the book has been posted by El­gin County Mu­seum to ww1el­gin.ca/el­gin-county-book-re­mem­ber­ance

Karen Auck­land places a poppy on page of El­gin County Book of Remembrance, which records the First World War ser­vice of more than 2,000 vet­er­ans.

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