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Bicentennial Museum recognizes Remembrance Day


Maidstone Bicentennial Museum Curator Victoria Beaulieu shows off some of the WWI and WWII items on display, in recognition of Remembrance Day.

by Sylene Argent

The Maidstone Bicentennial Museum is currently highlighting a few special displays to recognize Remembrance Day and the centennial anniversary of WWI’s Armistice.

  In a show of respect to veterans and fallen soldiers leading up to Remembrance Day, the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum is open with special hours this week: Monday, November 5 to Saturday, November 10, from 10-4 p.m., to allow visitors to mull over WWI and WWII displays that feature a local connection to history.

  “As the old saying goes, history repeats itself and this is a good way to ensure that doesn’t happen again,” Museum Curator, Victoria Beaulieu said, referring to WWI and WWII. “It is a nice way to pay tribute to local servicemen.”

  Beaulieu said the Museum is fortunate to have a rather unique collection of items that once belonged to WWI Navel Petty Officer, Arthur Plant, including his uniform, trunk, blanket, and even his winter undershirt.

  Beaulieu said Plant was from Maidstone. His family’s farm was located on County Road 46, which makes the display exceptionally special for the local Museum.

  When researching Plant, Beaulieu realized he served on the HMS Victory, which was Lord Nelson’s tall ship during the Napoleonic Wars. The ship was still in commission and used as a training vessel in the early 1900s.

  After WWI ended, Plant returned to the area, furthered his education, and practiced law in Essex, Beaulieu said.

  A portion of the donations collected at the Museum this week will be put aside to purchase a replica HMS Victory ship, which Beaulieu said will add to the collection and act as an educational tool for the youth who learn about local history at the Museum.

  Plant’s son, Edwin, served in WWII. His uniform is also on display at the Museum.

  The Maidstone Bicentennial Museum is also displaying some of the documents, a duffle bag, shoeshine kit, and pocket watch of WWI serviceman Albert Baillargeon, who was also of Maidstone.

A lighter, which was created through trench art, is also being featured at the Museum. Beaulieu explained someone created it out of a bullet.

Visitors will also be able to view a few WWII German helmets and a temporary German grave marker, which was used twice.

In addition, pictures WWII Spitfire Pilot Jerry Billing took in Malta are on display. Another feature highlighted includes love letters and poems sent between Mr. and Mrs. Lanoue of Belle River, before they were married, during WWII.

“What we have is rather impressive, Beaulieu said. “The stories behind [the items] are rather unique.”

  After Remembrance Day, the members involved with the Junior Historical Club will collect mittens for those in the area in need. Donations will be gladly accepted.  

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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