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Winnipeg MB (November 25, 2018): In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the Manitoba Museum has developed two mini-exhibitions. Vikings of the First World War: Icelandic Canadians in Service, running October 26 to March 3, 2019, examines the stories of Icelandic Canadians who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in Europe. In Flanders Fields: How We Remember explores how we as a society have remembered the war and those who were killed and runs from October 30 to January 11, 2019.
The Manitoba Museum is offering free admission to Canadian military and veterans from November 1 to 11 with their military ID, Blue Cross card with veteran ID, or driver's license (with a veteran plate number). The Museum is open on Remembrance Day from 1 pm to 5 pm.
The Vikings of the First World Warexhibition features medals, photographs, letters, and other artifacts from Manitoban Battalions. It also includes a multimedia, multi-screen video installation from the National Museum of Iceland.
During the First World War, over 1,000 Icelandic Canadians joined the war effort, serving as soldiers, nurses, and medics. They organized in Winnipeg in 1916 under different Battalions, including the 197th (Vikings of Canada) and the 223rd (Canadian Scandinavians). Most sailed to Europe in the autumn of 1917. One-hundred and forty of those volunteers were killed in action.
Icelandic Canadians featured in the Vikings of the First World War exhibition include three brothers from the Einarsson family, Joe, John, and Villi, who grew up in Saskatchewan but later came to Manitoba to volunteer. Also highlighted are medals and a bronze maquette of Sir William Stephenson, an Icelandic Canadian who became an ace pilot during the First World War, and later become a spymaster for the Allied Forces during the Second World War.
A hand-crafted reproduction of the Winnipeg Falcons' original Olympic uniform is also featured. The Falcons were a hockey team founded in 1911 by Icelandic Canadian athletes. They were excluded from the larger leagues in Winnipeg because of their Icelandic heritage. During the First World War, seven of the Falcons enlisted in the army and two, Frank Thorsteinson and George Cumbers, were killed overseas. The team reunited after the war and went on to win Canada's first Olympic gold in Hockey in 1920.
This exhibition is located in the Discovery Room and entry is included with admission to the Museum Galleries.
In Flanders Fields: How We Rememberexplores how we remember the war. The poem, In Flanders Fields, and its author Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae take centre stage in this small tribute. Other artifacts include a uniform and a dried poppy collected from Flanders fields in 1918.
The First World War shook societies around the world. At the end of the war, over 15 million were dead, and families and communities had to make sense of their losses. Memorials and monuments sprung up throughout the nation. The poppy lapel pin tradition began, as did Remembrance Day. The famous poem In Flanders Fields became the anthem of loss.
To complement the exhibit, a digital media display of the names of soldiers who died in 1918, provided by the non-profit group The World Remembers, will run throughout the course of the exhibit.
This exhibit is located in the foyer and is free to the public.
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