The war’s im­pact on fam­i­lies was re­mark­able, says Antigo­nish blog­ger

The News (New Glasgow) - - REMEMBRANCE DAY -

Bruce Mac­Don­ald of Antigo­nish taught high school so­cial stud­ies for years.

Iron­i­cally, it wasn’t un­til af­ter he re­tired that he found time to learn more on the sub­ject of the First World War and the Nova Sco­tia vet­er­ans from that time.

Mac­Don­ald writes a blog (http://guys­bor­ough­great­warvet­er­ un­cov­er­ing and writ­ing about the sto­ries of those who served.

He also gives guid­ance to teach­ers in Nova Sco­tia, pro­vid­ing in­sights and ad­vice on how to teach their stu­dents about the war years and help­ing them un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of that time and how it shaped Canada’s fu­ture.

He says the best way to en­tice the younger gen­er­a­tion to un­der­stand their his­tory is by fo­cus­ing on the hu­man sto­ries.

“What I try to em­pha­sis with the peo­ple I in­ter­act with is the price that fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties paid in the First World War … the sto­ries of those who died and never got to con­trib­ute what they could.

“For ex­am­ple, the com­mu­nity of Canso lost about 25 young men; and the im­pact that would have had on the fam­i­lies was quite re­mark­able.”

Mac­Don­ald feels a sense of ac­com­plish­ment to be able to help peo­ple bet­ter un­der­stand this pe­riod of his­tory.

The ceno­taph in Antigo­nish, like ceno­taphs across the coun­try, bears the names of young men who never re­turned from the First World War.

“Ev­ery year,” he says, “this fel­low would go out to the cer­e­mony, look at the ceno­taph and won­der, ‘Who were these guys?’”

That ques­tion started Mac­Don­ald on his jour­ney of re­search; lead­ing to the pub­lish­ing of a book about those The Antig­noish vet­er­ans on the 100th an­niver­sary of the Ar­mistice.

“I think to make them real peo­ple in their com­mu­nity hu­man­izes them, and hu­man­izes the im­pact of the loss. You start to be­gin to re­al­ize they were real peo­ple, and they didn’t come home, and how would that have im­pacted their com­mu­ni­ties and their fam­i­lies.”

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