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Nov. 27, 2020 | Friday
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Remembrance Day: NOTL Legion's Memories Project preserves the past
Former Legion president Al Howse gives remarks at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the clock tower cenotaph in 2018. (File/Richard Harley)

 

Over the years, Allan Howse has been a frequent president of Branch 124 of the Royal Canadian Legion, and the self-avowed nurturer of what’s come to be known as the Memory Project.

Originally called the Niagara Legion History Project, the Memory Project live-recorded the experiences of more than 150 NOTLLegion members who had enlisted in the military. The interviews took place over several months in 1987.

The recorded interviews consume dozens of cassette tapes, stored and catalogued in three sturdy cardboard boxes.

In 2009, during Howse’s his first term as president of Branch 124, he took the Memory Project on as a personal challenge.

“I felt a responsibility to do something with them,” remembers Howse. “When I found the tapes and the list of participants, I noticed that I knew most of the families. I am proud of my family's service and I'm sure that all the others are as well.”

“We’ve been slowly working on them and completed some transcriptions.”

Over the last couple of years, Howse has connected with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum to create a partnership for the storage and presentation of the recordings to a wider audience.

The Memory Project is also cataloguing pictures of veterans. “We now have over 100 and get a couple in each month.

“At some point, I hope we can call for volunteers from the community to help us transcribe these really interesting stories. We’re not quite ready for that. But we will be …”

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