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Trent community gathers in remembrance

Many Trent community members took the time to reflect and remember November 11, at the first university-wide Remembrance Day ceremony in a number of years. Staff, students and faculty members filled Champlain College's Great Hall for the student-organized service.

College cabinet representatives and members of the Religious Affairs Committee organized the ceremony, in which staff, student, faculty and administrative representatives laid wreaths in remembrance. The ceremony included traditional components of a Remembrance Day ceremony including a trumpet rendition of O Canada, Last Post and Reveille, as well as Amazing Grace on bagpipes. The multi-faith ceremony saw students read Muslim, Bahá'í, Jewish and Christian prayers.

Prof. David Glassco, of Trent's English department read and discussed war poetry while actor Eric Craig reenacted a poem from last summer's 4th Line Theatre play Attrition. Written by playwright Ryan Kerr, Attrition examines the effects of the First World War on Peterborough families. In the story, actor Mr. Craig portrayed a front-line soldier who is eventually killed in action.

President Bonnie Patterson, in her Remembrance Day address, contrasted the role of universities today, with that of little more than 50 years ago - during the Second World War. She highlighted newspaper articles published between 1939 and 1945 to illustrate that universities in Ontario and Canada were "clearly different places" and that it was "definitely a different time.

"Though we may not consider it on a day-to-day basis, the environment of respect, tolerance and sensitivity we strive to sustain at Trent, sets the stage for the free inquiry and expression, and the academic pursuits that create citizens of the world," she said.

Another recognition of remembrance is in the form of an archival display at Trent. Some of the Fowlds family papers - the first collection of historical papers ever donated to the University - are on display. A letter written by Don Fowlds, a soldier in the British Expeditionary Forces, to his mother in Hastings, Ontario, on September 5, 1918 is featured. The following is an excerpt from the letter - written one month before he was killed.

British Expeditionary Forces, Sept. 5, 1918

Dear Mother,
I found some poppy seeds and am sending them. Hope they get to you. I think the French people regard them as weeds and a good deal of nuisance but they are very pretty. In June some fields are red with them.

There is a bit of poetry that runs, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow." I cut it out of a paper and am enclosing it. You have probably seen it before. It is not exactly cheerful but I think it is one of the very few poems written on the war that is worth saving.

Don Fowlds,
Born: Hastings, Ontario, July 1891
Died: France, October 1918

Accompanying the letter from Mr. Fowlds in the display, is a letter from the Director-General of Graves Registration and Enquiries written to his mother in 1919 to inform her that her son's grave has not been found.

For further information on the Fowlds family, specifically Mr. Fowlds' sister Helen, visit to see the on-line exhibit Nursing Sister Helen Fowlds: A Canadian Nurse in World War One.

Posted November 11, 2003

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