Website gives new access to stories of the Great War

Every year on Remembrance Day, we pause and give thanks to veterans who served and sacrificed in global conflicts to provide Canadians with a stable lifestyle.

A website developed at the University of Saskatchewan provides a local link to the memories of Saskatchewan vets of the First World War of 1914-18 and brings that information closer to home with the click of a button.

The university was in its infancy at barely seven years old when the Great War broke out, but it still had a significant affect on the university and province.

Of the 345 faculty and students who enlisted for the Great War, 69 died, or as the university reported at the time, “passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self-sacrifice.”

Another 100 people were injured during the war and 35 people were awarded medals of valour.

Patrick Hayes, curator for the website and archives technician with the University Archives and Special Collections, says gathering these resources was a daunting task, but one he can now step back from proudly.

U of S historian Bill Waiser, the recently minted winner of a Governor General’s Literary Award, helped form a Great War committee three years ago and asked Hayes to join.

“Of course, I said sure,” says Hayes, who noted the many people on campus who jumped on board this massive project.

The website is easy to navigate with a number of topics to choose from, all with drop-down menus that provide more options for specific entries. An extensive library of photos is also available.

“Like any large project, it is best to break it up into smaller pieces,” says Hayes.

“I started with themes and the accompanying introductions, then sorted the material into subjects under the main themes. … I tried to replicate the in-person archival experience on the web.”

One of the best features of the website is the search button, which Hayes quickly credits the university information technology department with creating. Finding information stored in the massive database is now just a click away. A full listing of archival resources is listed, all with links to other websites for more information.

Ron Cruikshank came up with the unique RememberUS name while the logo was developed by Jeff Drake.

Anyone with stories, photos and information related to the university and the Great War can contact Hayes.

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