Between 1939 and 1945, the Second World War was an international conflict fought on land, on sea and in the air. Canadian soldiers played a major role in the war, including many from Guelph. Some of Guelph’s soldiers returned home, but many died in battle and as prisoners of war.
The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In remembrance of those who fought and died in the fight for freedom, Guelph Museums presents exhibitions that share the stories of two Guelph soldiers.
The first display, titled Liberation of Holland 1945, traces Canada’s central role in the conflict through the story of Trooper Clarence Oliver James of Guelph. As a tank driver with the 1st Hussars, Trooper James was among the Canadian soldiers in the Rhineland on February 26, 1945. It was a pivotal battle that triggered the end of the Second World War. The display includes artifacts on loan from the James family archive and from the Museums’ permanent collection.
The second display, titled Scholar, Soldier, Spy, tracks Germany’s role in inciting the Second World War and the establishment of the concentration camps that took over 6 million lives. This dark chapter in world history is recounted through the story of Captain John Kenneth Macalister of Guelph. Captain Macalister served in the Intelligence Corps. He was captured in occupied France and imprisoned at Buchenwald for more than a year before his death in 1944. The display includes photographs and artifacts from the Museums’ permanent collection.
In this 75th anniversary year of the end of the Second World War, these exhibitions help us to remember the lives of these soldiers and to commemorate their deaths. On view at Guelph Museums until January 31, 2021.