Lacombe Museum staff gearing up for annual ‘Portraits of War’ exhibit

A wine and cheese opening gala is set for Nov. 3

A scene from last year’s Portraits of War exhibit. Photo submitted

A scene from last year’s Portraits of War exhibit. Photo submitted

Staff at the Lacombe Museum are preparing to unveil the second annual ‘Portraits of War’ exhibit at the Flatiron Building Museum.

A wine and cheese runs on Nov. 3, with the exhibit officially opening on Nov. 4 and continuing through to Nov. 19th.

Those interested in attending the Nov. 3 event are asked to RSVP to info@lacombemuseum.com.

Visitors to the exhibit are invited to explore new stories and faces of veterans from the area who fought in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and the Afghanistan wars as well.

“This is our second exhibit of ‘Portraits of War’, as we had our inaugural one last year,” explained Melissa Blunden, the Museum’s executive director.

“There will be lots of fascinating panels to see featuring pictures of local veterans – I think we have 10 veterans that we are featuring through the bios and photos,” she said. “We will also have a selection of artifacts from our collection that are related to the wars as well.”

Last year, one of the more popular items on display was the Museum’s medic’s field cot, which was used overseas. Other items include medals, flight suits, and field kits just to name a few.

Another veteran who will be honoured via the exhibit will be the late Lacombe resident Master Cpl. Byron Greff, who served in the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Greff was also honoured in 2017 when the Lacombe Afghanistan Memorial was unveiled and dedicated. In August of that year, officials, local politicians, and members of the public gathered at Fairview Cemetery Veteran’s Field of Honour for the LAVIII memorial dedication.

The memorial pays tribute to the 40,000 Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan and the 162 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in service to their country.

Meanwhile, folks can also check out ‘At Home and Abroad – Stories from Lacombe and the Second World War’ which is a virtual exhibit on the Museum’s website at lacombemuseum.com. That exhibit was developed back in 2020. “We feature veterans from the entire region, and our local Legion was just fantastic in helping us with that,” she said. “I also really wanted to make sure that we presented a diverse group of people, so we made certain there were women included for example. Also, there are a few ‘coming home’ stories as well.”

Blunden is also excited about the Lacombe Museum’s Remembrance Day outdoor art installation. Poppies will be displayed on the outside of the Flatiron Building, and she’s very grateful for the volunteers who helped create, cut out and arrange the poppies that will be featured in this very special display.

As to ‘Portraits of War’, Blunden said she had some conversations with veterans last year who explained that although they may not have known the people featured in the actual exhibit, they knew of them.

“They would also share their own personal stories with us, so part of our exhibit this year includes a quiet space where we will have some nice chairs set up. We will offer tea, and if people want to come and sit with us to talk, they can.” Blunden grew up in a military family, so these chats are particularly meaningful to her.

“I’m happy to sit and talk with people – my Dad was actually the very first person to come and see the exhibit last year, and he thought it was great,” she said, recalling how her father explained the significance to many of the artifacts that were featured in the exhibit. That’s what also makes this exhibit all the more special to her.

“I was born into a military family – we moved across the country a few times. My father saw active battle, he was in Afghanistan. He is retired now but is a Master warrant officer.

“It’s (part) of who I am, so the fact that I can help make this exhibit happen for our community really matters to me personally,” she explained.

“I also don’t want people to forget what has been done for us,” she said. “I want people to see those who were directly impacted – whether they lost their lives or they made it home – from our small community. I think it’s important to tell those stories.

“I also want (visitors) to feel a bit uplifted and hopeful when they come through here and read some of the biographies of those who did come home – how they went on to contribute to what we see now as the Lacombe area and central Alberta, and the incredible things they did in their lives.

“It’s part of their story, so I think highlighting that is also really important.”

For more, check out www.lacombemuseum.com.

Remembrance Day

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