News Local

A Day in the Trenches

Greg Vandermeulen

LA RIVIERE - 

It’s all about honouring the veterans for Bruce Tascona, owner of the First World War Museum and host to the annual Day in the Trenches.
Tascona operates the museum out of Silver Springs Bed & Breakfast and has built a set of trenches to give visitors an idea of what life was like in World War I.
A Day in the Trenches brought hundreds of people, including a bus chartered out of Winnipeg, to his land northwest of La Riviere.
“We have some living exhibits where we hope that the visitor comes here to experience how the soldiers lived in tents, how they were in the trenches, the trench headquarters and routine,” he said. “Basically what we’re hoping is that the visitor walks away having a better idea.”
Tascona said people don’t realize how important things like sanitation were, and how the lack of it could claim lives.
“Most people just think of the shooting but they had to strictly control their health, the sanitation, because there would have been dysentery breaking out all over the place,” he said. “Those are a few of the things we’re hoping to discuss.”
People taking part in A Day in the Trenches visited stations featuring a field hospital, training camp, trench headquarters, bayonet station and the trenches themselves before visiting the permanent exhibit in the World War I Museum.
Tascona said World War I has captured his interest for many years.
“I’ve been a collector since I was 13-years-old,” he said. “I’m 62-years-old now.”
The author of nine military history books, Tascona loves to share his collection.
“I’ve always been motivated and collected a lot of material from the First World War,” he said. “We thought this was an ideal place to put up some seasonal exhibits plus the permanent collection for people to get that experience.”
Tascona said it’s all about the legacy of the veteran, and it won’t be long before the War will be forgotten. However he is pleased to see renewed local interest.
“There’s a lot of people from the neighbouring communities especially from the Morden/Winkler area that probably don’t have a martial family history,” he said. “We’re finding more and more of them are coming for visits. We had classes and schools from Winkler and Plum Coulee and they seem to be fascinated by the whole idea.”
“What motivates me is trying to remember the legacy of the veterans of the First World War,” he said.
An exhibit like this also localizes what to many is a far off war.
“This wasn’t a struggle between Paris, Berlin and London,” he said. “This was a struggle where Pilot Mound, Crystal City, Morden... they sent their children to war and many didn’t come home.”