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Montreal collector commemorates WWI veterans through objects they left behind
This year’s Remembrance Day will mark a century since the Armistice – the end of World War I.
For one Montreal collector, the aftermath of the Great War still resonates today.
Over the years, Mark Cahill at the Canadian Centre for the Great War has amassed thousands of WWI relics.
“My grandfather spent his 17th birthday in the trenches – it always fascinated me,” Cahill explained.
Through mostly Canadian items, he has plenty of stories to tell - like that of Cecil Bruce Ferris, a military engineer.
Ferris was on the battlefront when a communication line broke, and he tried to fix it no matter what.
“He ran to do it,” Cahill recounted. “He was shot, he fell down, got back up and went out, fixed the line, put the wounded guy on his shoulder, and carried him back.”
These actions garnered Ferris a distinguished conduct medal.
This year, marking one hundred years since the end of the war, Cahill’s items are infused with extra significance.
“People have to be remembered,” he said. “The saddest thing is that when you see a lot of the memorial boards, people go ‘ah those people were dead 100 years ago.’ But those are your grandparents, or your great-grandparents.
For Cahill, the Great War shaped the world we know today.
“The first World War creates fascism, it creates communism, it creates the Middle East – I mean we’re still dealing with it today,” he said.
Cahill’s collection is open to the public near his offices in the Sud-Ouest borough.
It’s part history lesson and part remembrance of those who served in a war that no longer has any living Canadian veterans.
“You couldn’t even imagine going through those things,” Cahill added. “In the mud, caked with filth, rats, and lice. People wouldn’t do it today.”