Rolls of Honour: War and Remembrance at UWinnipeg
Recently recovered in Gallery 1C03’s art collections are two ornate Rolls of Honour commemorating those who served from Manitoba and Wesley Colleges in First World War. These rolls were produced by future member of the Group of Seven, Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald. The Rolls of Honour were discovered by UWinnipeg’s Art Curator Jennifer Gibson and UWinnipeg Archivist/Digital Curator Brett Lougheed. They also found a third Roll of Honour, which was later produced to memorialize service personnel from United College that were killed during the Second World War.
Gibson and Lougheed decided that the rolls were a historical record rather than art, and transferred the documents as a long-term loan to UWinnipeg Archives. Since the discovery, the Rolls of Honour have been restored and, to ensure their preservation, have been digitized with a state-of-the-art scanner. The scan was digitally stitched together by UWinnipeg graphic designer Eric Roddy and have been reproduced to scale for an upcoming exhibit to commemorate Remembrance Day.
UWinnipeg Archives is unveiling the reproductions of the three Rolls of Honour on Friday, November 10, 2017, at 12:30 pm in The University of Winnipeg Archives. The event includes a talk titled Rolls of Honour: War, Remembrance, and the University on the history of the rolls. This poignant exhibit will be on display until late 2018.
“Archivists work diligently to preserve and provide access to our history,” said Lougheed. “In this way, archives are sites of memory and remembrance. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in 2018, we hope this exhibit will provide an opportunity throughout the year for the University community to remember and pay their respects to those past students, staff, and faculty from the University’s predecessor colleges who bravely defended our freedom in the First and Second World Wars.”
Chantel Fehr, an intern working with Lougheed, has been researching the story of the rolls, which will be shared at the unveiling.
“Upon doing research for this project, I was interested to discover that the popularity of creating Rolls of Honour during the Great War was a result of a shift in the way nations thought of their soldiers,” said Fehr. “Canadian First World War historian Jonathan Vance indicates that, before the 1900s, soldiers were thought of as ‘anonymous ruffians’ and were remembered only as a faceless, nameless group of men. The public began to feel pride in and celebrate soldiers as heroes as more war correspondents reported on soldiers’ bravery on the battlefield and throughout the hardships of war. As part of the newly emotional response toward soldiers, churches, colleges, businesses, and community groups began to record the names of their young men as they enlisted and to memorialize them as individuals. This practice became increasingly common throughout the First World War, resulting in the creation of many Rolls of Honour such as those found in our collection.”
The University of Winnipeg Archives and Records Centre is home to a diverse collection of documentary heritage, including university records, records of individuals and organizations, rare books, and the Western Canada Pictorial Index. The Archives and Records Centre also shares its space with the United Church of Canada, Manitoba & Northwestern Ontario Conference Archives.