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Special art installation to mark 75 years since end of WWII

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

30 Oct 2020 | Carson Murphy, Museum Director Nampa and District Museum

As we approach November, one can’t but help to think of Remembrance Day. This year, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary since the end of World War II. On September 3, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany following Hitler’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. A mere week later, Canada officially entered the Second World War on September 10, 1939. The war continued until May 8, 1945 when it officially ended in Europe. Japan did not sign the instrument of surrender until September 2, 1945. More than 1 million Canadians served in WWII and over half a million in WWI. Hundreds of Peace Country residents enlisted for both conflicts and many veterans moved to the Peace River area following the war seeking better opportunities.

Last year the Nampa and District Museum set up poppy trees in the lobbies of the Northern Sunrise County and Village of Nampa offices. The trees had more than 150 poppies on each one, inscribed with the names of those residents of the two municipalities who had served in an armed conflict.

This year the Museum is doing is a special art installation of 100 metal poppies at the Nampa and District Museum. The poppies will be on display on the ground floor of the museum from November 3 to November 11. Normal admission fees are being waived, and instead admission will just be by donation. The Museum hours will also be changing slightly. The Museum will be open in addition to the usual Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, also 12pm to 5pm Saturday and November 11. The Museum is adding a couple of banners on the fence depicting historic postcard images of World War I from the archives of the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre.

“It’s great to have such a wonderful regional repository of archival material, and this specific postcard collection we have drawn from is quite interesting. It includes a number of postcards collected by Joe Newman, known locally as “Poppy Joe”. Many people of a certain age will remember Poppy Joe on his corner downtown Peace River selling poppies for Remembrance Day. We are grateful to the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre for the use of the images.

The metal poppies that form the display are all hand made by local metal artists Doug and Trinity Thompson of Hell N Back Welding.

“I was inspired for this project by the poppies that were put out at the Tower of London a few years ago. It was an incredible image, and I wanted to try to recreate that here in Nampa for this special anniversary,” Murphy states. “I’ve seen the flowers that Hell N Back welding does, and so it was a very natural fit to approach them to see if they would be the artists in this project. We were delighted when they agreed!” Thompson takes a lot of pride in replicating his flowers as close to the real thing as possible. The attention to detail is evident, and they are a beautiful commemorative item.

The poppies are being sold for $75 a piece. Proceeds will support a couple of projects the Nampa and District Historical Society are working on, and some will be donated to a Canadian Veteran’s charity as well. Orders can be placed anytime before November 11. The flowers stand 15” tall and have about a 4” flower. All poppies will be on display until November 11. On November 12, they will be boxed up and ready to be picked up, delivered, or mailed to those who pre-ordered. Any remaining ones will be available for sale at the Museum. The poppy comes with a box and a tag if there is someone you would like to have memorialized with the poppy. Shipping is extra. For more information or to place an order contact the Nampa and District Museum website or by calling the museum 780.322.2777.

“We are not expecting to do this again next year,” Murphy stresses. “We wanted it to be a special one-time event for 2020 to add something special to a crazy year, and to commemorate an important milestone.”

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