Belgium Remembered…

The Nation family memorial at Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C (P. Ferguson image, December 2014)

The Nation family memorial at Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C
(P. Ferguson image, December 2014)

One suggestion…one step…and a million more followed

Sometimes when sifting through the research and images, recollections and recall, I ask myself what were the origins of a specific project? Where did it all begin?

The hours of enjoyment wandering about paths and trails, the gentle cadence through a library’s stacks, the scrambling through newspapers and periodicals and the now very welcome modern scanning technologies of OCR, have all led to happy productions. I enjoy assembling these ponderings…these musings and have grown accustomed to the clattering of the keys.

On 10 November 2018 I will be presenting Belgium Remembered in British Columbia at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, Zonnebeke, Belgium. I am pleased to bring this project overseas to a community and landscape, of the former Belgian Western Front, that I feel has given me so very much. Most of my work and interest has delivered the Western Front (and elsewhere) to home audiences on the west coast of Canada. I am very grateful for this new opportunity.

The presentation will feature BC geographical place names, war memorials and private markers, hikes and seeking as well as the histories of seldom remembered organizations such as Toc H in Canada. Still, there is one impetus for the project’s  start.

George Walter Nation.

Lieutenant George Walter Nation. (Portrait from the Canada Illustrated Weekly).

One day, many years ago, at Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, I saw one family memorial that intrigued from the outset as I gazed upon the inscription, In Loving Memory of Abigail Geach beloved wife of Frederick Nation…and of their dear son Lieut. George Walter Nation…7th Battalion Canadian Light Infantry…Killed in Action near Zillebeke, Flanders, July 25th, 1916…

The first time I saw the Nation family memorial was during my university years when I wrote an extra essay for the late Dr. Alan Gowans. In one of Dr. Gowan’s lectures he mentioned that an essay on the then seldom examined topic of memorial architecture, specifically Ross Bay Cemetery, would be rather fascinating. That was circa 1979-1980…the topic has remained with me ever since.

Nation memorial window, Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, B.C.

The Nation family memorial window at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, B.C. In Loving Memory of Abigail Geach Beloved wife of Frederick Nation and of their dear son George Walter Nation.
(P. Ferguson image, November 2016)

I am most grateful to Dr. Gowan’s insights and his charismatic deliveries. Methinks I learned much from him…and I gained so much more…finding a portrait of a grinning George Walter Nation, seeing the colours in the Nation family memorial window at Christ Church Cathedral, standing, in Belgium, at Lieutenant Nation’s graveside at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm), being on the ground of Zillebeke…cycling along the Zillebeke lakeside…and all from one suggestion…one step…and a million more followed.

Headstone F.W. Nation

George Walter Nation’s marker at Railway Dugouts Cemetery, Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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