Military history lives online in Bruce County, Ont.

The experiences of Bruce County war veterans will be preservedfor years due to a recent government funding grant to digitize itsmilitary collection.

The Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre isset to receive $20,300 from the Department of Canadian Heritagefor the e-archiving project, with the full support of the Departments Museum Assistance Program.

David Sharron, the museum’s archivist, credits local MP LarryMiller for being instrumental in acquiring the grant.

“He was very supportive and is the one that brought this grantforward to Beverley Oda, (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Statusof Women),” Sharron said. “Without their work this money wouldn’thave come through.”

Sharron said that in addition to digitizing their collectionthey’ve also been conducting oral histories of local Second WorldWar veterans.

The oral history project was started by local videographer KirkScott, who decided it would be a logical next step to have the museum support the program, he said.

“The museum jumped onboard right away,” said Sharron. “He didfive videos last year and it became a major part of our RemembranceDay celebrations.”

The response was so positive they asked for at least 14 morethis year depending on how much money could be raised, and that’swhen the grant was applied for, he said.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is seeing an increase inapplications from museums seeking to digitize their collections,according to Jaime Burke, acting manager of communications, Ontarioregion.

“I believe it’s because the more artifacts are handled the morethey break down, so this is a way to make them last longer,” saidBurke. “This also makes it more accessible to Canadians across thecountry.”

Sharron said that the BruceCounty Library has a big interest in military history as well,and that the records could soon be searchable in 22 library systemsthroughout southwest Ontario.

“We can add the images to it so it’s not just a catalogue, youcan actually see the document online,” he said. “In addition toimproving preservation this project could also impact historyeducation as the videos of the war veterans have made an impressionon local students who have viewed them.”

In addition to the videos, Sharron said the items they aredigitizing include enlistment cards and soldier’s letters.

He estimated that the Web collections portal is to be live bythe end of this summer.

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