Walter Draycott left his entire life-time’s set of diaries (1907-1985) to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. Our staff have long been intrigued with his life and documentary legacy, and particularly with the volumes which record Walter’s years with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in World War I. The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War provides an opportunity to share his war-time diaries with Canadians, through this website – “Walter Draycott’s Great War Chronicle” – that will grow over time until November 2018.
Each of Draycott’s 1,500 or so wartime (1914-1918) diary entries is posted exactly 100 years to the day after it was written from 2014 through 2018. The most significant entries are brought to life with voice-over readings by North Vancouver actor Gordon Roberts, veteran of the musical “Billy Bishop Goes to War”. The website is also illustrated with photographs and battle-field drawings from Draycott’s archives, and related holdings of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. The ‘Albums’ section of the website includes scans of all the original diary pages, so users can appreciate the look and feel of the little volumes, and try their skill at deciphering Draycott’s handwriting.
Yearly essays by BC military historian, David Borys, place Walter’s personal experience as a self-described ‘pawn’ in the broader context of the unfolding conflict. There are also links to related websites, educational materials, and resources for teachers and students.
We invite not only your comments and questions about the project, but also contributions to it. If you have family stories you would like to share with us, to add to the story of North Vancouver’s experience of the Great War, we would be glad to post them. If you have photographs to share, we will include them in a contributor ‘album’ on our “Albums” page.