The Memory Project

The Memory Project is a national bilingual program whose mandate is to record and share the stories of veterans and currently serving Canadian Forces members. The Memory Project has two branches: a Speakers Bureau and an Archive.

Memory Project speakers use photos to illustrate their presentations.
Image: Gabrielle Touchette/Historica Canada.

The Memory Project is a national bilingual program whose mandate is to record and share the stories of veterans and currently serving Canadian Forces members. The Memory Project has two branches: a Speakers Bureau and an Archive. The Memory Project is an initiative of the not-for-profit organization Historica Canada and made possible with funding from the Government of Canada through the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Veterans Affairs.

The Memory Project Speakers Bureau

Major John Fischer, Memory Project
Major John Fischer, a speaker with the Memory Project, with secondary school students, 2010. Image: The Memory Project Speakers Bureau.
Jan de Vries, former Memory Project Speaker and his wife Joanne, 2012.
Image: The Memory Project Speakers Bureau/Historica Canada.
Flight Cadet Mort Lightstone during training at RCAF Station in Summerside, P.E.I. 1951.\r\n Image: Mort Lightstone/The Memory Project Archive/Historica Canada.

The Memory Project Speakers Bureau began in 2001 through a collaboration between The Dominion Institute and a small group of Second World War veterans who had been visiting Toronto schools to share their stories. The initial goal was to formalize veterans’ visits and make them accessible on a national scale. The program has since expanded into a diverse community of over 1,500 volunteers, both veterans and currently serving Canadian Forces personnel. Speakers Bureau volunteers have served Canada at home and abroad and represent a wide range of military experiences, including the Second World War, the Korean War, United Nations Peacekeeping, and NATO operations, as well as domestic service. Volunteers share their unique experiences with Canadians in classrooms and community centres across the country. Well over 1.5 million Canadians have been educated in Canada’s military history and current events through this personal storytelling initiative.

The Memory Project Archive

The largest database of oral history online in Canada, The Memory Project Archive grew out of the successful Speakers Bureau, with the aim to preserve veteran stories for future generations. Beginning in 2002, these stories were audio and video recorded. Memorabilia, including photographs, medals and other wartime artefacts, were digitized and made available online.

Patricia Collins (née Holden) was one of three press photographers working in the Public Relations Department of Lincoln
Image: Patricia Collins/The Memory Project Archive/Historica Canada.
André Therrien with Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada.
Lieutenant André Therrien receiving the Military Cross for bravery in Korea from His Excellency the Governor General of Canada Vincent Massey. The ceremony took place in front of 2nd Battalion, Le Royal 22e Régiment at Camp Valcartier, Quebec in summer 1952. \r\nImage: André Therrien/The Memory Project Archive.\r\nhttp://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2632:andre-therrien/
S. Korean navy, Korean War, Don Jatiouk.
South Korean navy patrol ship, foundered on rocks and sinking in the Yellow Sea, 1952. \r\nImage: Don Jatiouk/The Memory Project Archive. \r\nhttp://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2267:don-jatiouk/

In 2009, with a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, The Historica-Dominion Institute’s The Memory Project: Stories of the Second World War sent interviewers across Canada, touching three coasts and visiting more than 40 cities and towns, to record Second World War testimonials and artefacts. In 2011, with new funding the project’s mandate was expanded to Stories of the Korean War to record testimonials from Korean War veterans. The project’s goal was to record 516 stories, one for every fallen Canadian during that war.

With more than 2,800 testimonials and 10,000 images,The Memory Project Archive offers an unprecedented historical record of Canada’s military participation, as seen through the eyes of thousands of men and women who were there. These stories provide a personal dimension to important moments in Canada’s war history, including the 1942 Dieppe Raid as experienced by Herménégilde Dussault, Don Wolfe and David Mann, the Battle of the Atlantic from Gerald Wilkes’ perspective, Guy Robitaille’s role in the Italian campaign, and the participation of Jan de Vries and Bill Ludlow at Juno Beach, during the Second World War.

Aileen Hanger with additional members of CWAC, on a break during gas mask training.
Chilliwack, BC, January 1945. Image: Aileen Hanger/The Memory Project Archive/Historica Canada.
Two young children, who Peter Chisholm came across on patrol during the Korean War.
Image: Peter Chisholm/The Memory Project Archive.\r\nhttp://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2869:peter-chisholm/
Members of the Korean Service Corps, August 1953.
The Korean Service Corps included Korean males who were unable to serve because of age or disability. They worked on infrastructure projects such as building roads and drainage ditches. In emergencies, they acted as ammunition porters. Image: Peter Chisholm/The Memory Project Archive.\r\n
Sailor Leonard Wells of HMCS Cayuga in Korea, 1950-1952.
Image: Leonard Wells/The Memory Project Archive. http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2642:leonard-wells/

The Canadian experience during the Korean War is also well represented. Donald Dalke, Claude LaFrance, Roy Jardine, Aimé Michaud, André Therrien, Leonard Wells and their compatriots share perspectives on the Korean frontlines from their time in the army, navy, and air force. These stories from the “Forgotten War” represent memorable illustrations of an important historical period.

Leonard Braithwaite in uniform in front of the British War Memorial, London, England, just after V-E Day, 1945. Image: Leonard Braithwaite/The Memory Project/Historica Canada.
Allison Furlotte, Korean War veteran
Guardsman Allison Furlotte, 4th Battalion, The Canadian Guards. Valcartier (Quebec), 1952. \r\nImage: Allison Furlotte/The Memory Project Archive. \r\nhttp://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2793:allison-joseph-furlotte/

External Links

  • Memory Project

    This multimedia site features a growing collection of poignant interviews with veterans who recount details of their military service. Covers the era from the First World War to modern times. From Historica Canada.