Piper J.C. Richardson VC Centennial Chilliwack, BC

The rain drenched bronze statue of Piper J.C. Richardson VC, Cgilliwack, BC, October 8, 2016. (P. Ferguson image 2016)

The rain drenched bronze statue of Piper J.C. Richardson VC, Chilliwack, BC, October 8, 2016. (P. Ferguson image 2016)

A Time to Reflect and be Reflective

October 8, 2016

It is raining today, water hurtling down from a darkened sky. It is a time to reflect and be reflective, a time for a centennial eulogy that speaks to all of us this day…but what more can be said about this piper James that has not been said a thousand times before in so many finer words than mine?

It is important to remember, important to think upon deeds not words, important to think upon a seemingly forgotten word – honour. Still I would like to think…that James would like to think…that above himself there were so many others…and ultimately that his sacrifice, his deeds represent those of anonymous and unfamiliar others. Remember James…remember them all…

The diary and pipes of James Cleland Richardson VC at the Chilliwack Museum. (P. Ferguson image 2016).

The diary and pipes of James Cleland Richardson VC at the Chilliwack Museum. (P. Ferguson image 2016).

And So I Write

….Ultimately I set my sites as I craft my words aboard the Queen of New Westminster, a vessel that will always hold true my thoughts of remembrance for it is on board this vessel that I learned of my father’s passing not that long ago. I am saddened he, especially, could not be here this day…it is a thoughtful write….one important to present and one mirrored in this reflection. There are only two words that I anticipate stumbling upon, “fathers and mothers” and so, I do what I can –  to find a way, as we all do, to carry on. Stand to…Mr. Ferguson…Stand to!

Words from the Podium this day by Paul Ferguson

In a French farmer’s field north of Courcelette is a cemetery called Adanac. It is here that Piper James Cleland Richardson rests with his fellow soldiers. Today – it is largely quiet – a stark contrast to the incessant noise of the Great War when men from either side climbed over the top, pushed forward amidst obstacles, machine gun and rifle fire, shrapnel bursts, shell fragments, wire and untold mileu of hurt.

James Cleland Richardson was hurt…..wounded amidst this carnage, and died of these injuries October 9, 1916 a day after performing the deeds that earned him the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross. But who is our boy James…this soul that has brought us together this day to honour?

James is Scottish and Canadian, Seaforth and Canadian Scottish, a Boy Scout and cadet, civilian, soldier, piper, son, brother, ancestor and hero. James is of Bell’s Hill and Rutherglen, Vancouver and Chilliwack. He is an inspiration to many – not just here in this community but to those outside these borders. Even today there have been ceremonies at Adanac and elsewhere overseas to remember him. However not only should we honour James at this time, but we should also honour all that is connected to him by today’s remembrance.

Today is not just a history of over there but of right here. We gather before the former Chilliwack City Hall where community leaders and citizens met about Great War causes that this community would contribute to. Across the street, the United Church hosted a number of gatherings related to volunteer war work. Look to Five Corners where peace was celebrated in 1918 and look behind us to the Chilliwack War Memorial dedicated in 1923. All are reminders that the Great War is never too far away.

Remember too that today is but one day of many centennials that started August 4, 2014. Many more are to follow, Vimy, Passchendaele, Amiens…George Allan Evans, Dennis Peter Hepburn, Harold Milton White and others. So – as we gather here remember that this is but one day of innumerable days of potential – lost far too early. May their legacy, James’ legacy, Chilliwack’s legacy be that when and wherever we gather – we think of James and the others not just as heroes, warriors or as inspiration, but also as someone’s sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, relatives, friends and lovers.

All belong to this community, this family we know as Chilliwack, this country we know as Canada.

And for those who came this day…this reminder now and forever, A Hard Rains Gonna Fall. Thank you to everyone who made this event a tremendous success.

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.


2 Responses to “Piper J.C. Richardson VC Centennial Chilliwack, BC”

  1. Paul Ferguson says:

    Special thanks to Matthew Francis, Executive Director of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives and Shannon Bettles Reimer Archivist. To the fine staff of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, and the Richardson family thank you for making this a very fine day indeed. Great to see so many friends and familiar faces.

    To Piper James Cleland Richardson VC (what more can be said?) Thank you!

    To Kid Rock (yes – Kid Rock) thank you for the fine tunes. Cowboy, Johnny Cash, Only God Knows Why, that have played through the last few months – helping me work through the loss of my parents – two months apart – Patricia Colleen Rafuse (August 11, 1937 – June 25, 2016) and Edward William Ferguson (March 3, 1930 – August 25, 2016).

  2. W.R. Paul Ferguson says:

    A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall was written by Bob Dylan in 1962. Cover here by Edie Brickell.

Leave a Reply