Young mem­ber ap­pre­ci­ates past

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Ayer's Cliff

Peo­ple who at­tended last year’s Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony in Ayer’s Cliff may re­mem­ber an in­ter­est­ing sight: a young man dressed in an authen­tic World War I uni­form, stand­ing at at­ten­tion be­side the ceno­taph. That young man was Lorne Waid Ju­nior, of Ge­orgeville, who is one of the Ayer’s Cliff Le­gion’s youngest mem­bers.

“I joined about three years ago,” ex­plained the twenty-five year-old in an in­ter­view at the Le­gion Hall on Rosedale Av­enue. “I was with a friend of mine, Josh Bowen, when his fa­ther, Madi­son Bowen, showed up and put two forms down in front of us and told us to join. So we both joined the Le­gion. I had an in­ter­est in the Le­gion and I was al­ways a big his­tory buff.”

A col­lec­tor of mil­i­taria, Lorne soon be­came the his­to­rian for the club. “It’s a po­si­tion that I fell into, ini­tially to look af­ter the ar­ti­facts and pho­to­graphs, to pre­serve and cat­a­logue them.” And now, thanks to this en­thu­si­as­tic his­to­rian, mem­bers and vis­i­tors to the Ayer’s Cliff Le­gion get to see some of those ar­ti­facts and his­toric pho­to­graphs more of­ten. “I do a ro­ta­tional dis­play of mil­i­tary ar­ti­facts for each monthly meet­ing. I’ll set up a ta­ble from both the Le­gion’s col­lec­tion and my own,” ex­plained Mr. Waid.

“The in­ter­net’s a god­send to do re­search,” he con­tin­ued. “I found an ob­scure book writ­ten in 1917, Men of To­day, that pro­files men from the Eastern Town­ships. There are so many groups that are into this kind of stuff on the in­ter­net.” Lorne sounds proud of the Town­ship­pers of the past when he talks of their in­volve­ment in the war: “Be­tween 4 and 5 % of Town­ship­pers went to the First World War. Peo­ple were dif­fer­ent back then: they didn’t ques­tion when the King put out the call and ev­ery lit­tle town in the Town­ships had a re­cruit­ment of­fice. Of the 117th Bat­tal­ion, one third of those were of French Cana­dian de­scent.” Rev­er­ently pick­ing up an old pho­to­graph of a group of young sol­diers, he said: “A pho­to­graph like this is gold. They’re all lo­cal peo­ple, mem­bers of the Sher­brooke Fusaliers.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Waid, the Archives Canada web­site holds a wealth of infor- ma­tion for those in­ter­ested in mil­i­tary his­tory or in­ves­ti­gat­ing their own fam­ily mil­i­tary his­tory. “Prior to 1918, the ser­vice records are all pub­lic. Ser­vice records are very com­plete. Some­times they’re not per­fect but they are a record of ev­ery­thing that hap­pened to the in­di­vid­ual once they joined the mil­i­tary. World War II records are very good, World War I records are a lit­tle spotty.”

Lorne’s ex­po­sure to mil­i­tary his­tory be­gan at a young age. “My fa­ther was a his­tory buff and I heard fam­ily sto­ries that went as far back as the Civil War. I heard war sto­ries from my grand­fa­ther and from Ted Rogers, a friend of the fam­ily. I re­mem­ber him telling me it was great when he joined the army in the Sec­ond World War: he got three meals a day!”

When Mr. Waid, who works in the con­struc­tion busi­ness with his fa­ther, first joined the Ayer’s Cliff Le­gion, his knowl­edge about ren­o­vat­ing was put to use be­fore his knowl­edge of mil­i­tary his­tory. Fol­low­ing the flood­ing of the Le­gion Hall’s base­ment three years ago, vol­un­teers were needed to re­pair the dam­age and, as Lorne put it jok­ingly, “I made the mis­take of putting my hand up once dur­ing the meet­ing.” Branch pres­i­dent Su­san Fletcher-Doust com­mented: “Lorne was a tremen­dous help, putting in count­less hours of work to help re­pair the dam­age.”

And all that work led to some in­ter­est­ing dis­cov­er­ies. “We found pic­tures in boxes and bags when we were do­ing the ren­o­va­tions. We found the old Ma­gog Le­gion flag and their for­mer Char­ter; it be­came like a trea­sure hunt. It would be a crime to leave stuff like that in boxes, for­got­ten.” Pick­ing up a pho­to­graph of sol­diers, Lorne added: “I don’t know these peo­ple but they ex­isted. They all gave up their lives here to go fight, some may have even died.”

Dur­ing this year’s week of Re­mem­brance, Lorne will be cre­at­ing sev­eral his­toric dis­plays. “I’ll be set­ting out a big ta­ble with ar­ti­facts and pho­to­graphs for our Re­mem­brance Din­ner. I’m also go­ing to set up a dis­play at the hall for the older students of Ayer’s Cliff El­e­men­tary and visit the students of Princess El­iz­a­beth School, in Ma­gog. I re­mem­ber when I was a stu­dent at Princess El­iz­a­beth. We would be vis­ited by twenty-five or thirty vet­er­ans on Re­mem­brance Day. We’re the last gen­er­a­tion who re­mem­bers meet­ing so many vet­er­ans. Now we have only four World War II vet­er­ans left in our club.”

If you have any old war pho­to­graphs, badges, uni­forms, let­ters or other ar­ti­facts that you would like to en­trust to the Ayer’s Cliff Le­gion for safe-keep­ing and oc­ca­sional dis­play, you can contact Lorne Waid Ju­nior at 819 843-9795 or by email at lorne.waid@hot­mail.com.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Lorne Waid Ju­nior, the his­to­rian of the Ayer’s Cliff Le­gion, or­ga­nizes, cat­a­logues and dis­plays the branch’s im­por­tant ar­ti­facts and pho­to­graphs at monthly meet­ings and spe­cial events.

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