Waterdown District High School Museum to feature to-scale trench
By Mac Christie, Flamborough Review
The sandbags are being filled, the trench walls are being decorated and dirt is filling the cracks of the floorboards at the Waterdown District High School museum.
This year, the student-run museum has built an exact scale walk-in trench that is 21 feet long and four feet wide.
WDHS history teacher Rob Flosman said the trench in part commemorates the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of the Somme in 2016 and Vimy Ridge in 2017. He noted the trench was inspired by the walk-in trench at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
“When we teach this, it’s hard to imagine living in a trench and no one understands the scale of it,” he said. “So I wanted to bring this kind of hands-on learning experience.”
One of the largest battles of the First World War, more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded during the Somme, which took place in France from July 1- Nov. 18, 1916.
Flosman heads up the museum program at the school that gives students an opportunity to co-ordinate new installations each year. He noted Grade 8 students from WDHS’s feeder schools will also visit the museum.
“To give them an experience,” he said of the idea behind the trench, “but also to give them an idea of what life may be like in battle.”
The trench walls are six feet and four feet high, respectively, and the sand bags match what would have been used during the First World War.
Grade 11 history student Emma Pugsley said the project has been underway since February. She added the trench is a great addition to the museum. “I think it just makes it more real,” she said. “You hear the stories about the trenches and the war, but you don’t really get to experience it yourself. So this way, kids can come in and actually see what existed.”
The museum, which is run by students in the Grade 11 genocide history class, will open to the public Wed., May 4 from 3-7 p.m. The museum is located on the second floor of the 215 Parkside Dr., school in room 2043. Visitors are instructed to used the east parking lot at the school for ease of access.
In addition to the trench, the museum features exhibits dealing with the First World War, Second World War, the RCAF and the Holocaust.
For more information or for a tour after May 4, contact Flosman at 905-689-6692 ext. 517.