Goulbourn Museum presents – With Love to All: A Community Project

The third installment of the 2021 Speaker Series hosted by Goulbourn Museum will take place on June 22nd. The event will introduce participants to the Museum’s launch of their November 2021 inaugural virtual exhibition. The exhibit entitled, With Love to All, transpired from letters written by Pte. Sefton Stewart to his family in Richmond, Ontario during the Great War. Covering a period from 1916 to 1918, the letters provide an intimate look at the everyday conditions for young people serving their country amidst the devastation of the European battlefields and the immense loss of life. Participants will learn of this community project and the local initiatives that made it all possible on June 22nd.

Goulbourn Museum staff members, Museum Manager and Exhibitions Curator Tracey Donaldson, along with Collections Officer Sarah Holla, will feature the letters of Sefton Stewart, a Richmond, Ontario young man who joined the war effort at only 17 years of age in 1914, enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and serving in the Great War. In 2015, the Museum displayed Sefton’s letters as part of the ‘Homegrown Heroes’ exhibit.

(Just one of Sefton’s letters that he penned to his mother in Richmond, Ontario. This one was written on September 12, 1916. Photo: Goulbourn Museum)

The letters, having been preserved for 93 years by the family, were donated to the Museum by Mrs. Mary (Seabrook) Munro, Sefton’s niece, for which the Museum is grateful for this kind donation. The ‘West Ottawa Homefront’, a group of military spouses, have volunteered many hours of their time transcribing the over 15,000 written words from Sefton’s letters.

Sefton’s father was James Stewart, whose occupations included undertaker, carriage maker, farmer and one-time reeve of Richmond village. His mother was Margaret (McLean) Stewart. Sefton’s family home was at 39 Perth Street in Richmond.

(The Stewart/Hartin House located at 39 Perth Street. Photo: Joan Darby)

Pte. Sefton Stewart was born April 11, 1898 and joined the war effort in 1914 as a Canadian Infantryman (Quebec Regiment) of the 77th Battalion, A Company, No. 1 Platoon, Canadian Expeditionary Force, based at Bramshott Camp, England. Sadly, he was killed in action on August 8, 1918 at age 20. He is buried at the Demuin British Cemetery in Somme, France. Sefton’s name appears in the First World War Book of Remembrance on page 507. The Book of Remembrance is located in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. The page on which Sefton’s name appears will be displayed on October 26, 2021 in the Memorial Chamber.

Throughout the month of this coming November the Museum will be posting excerpts from a selection of wartime correspondence between Pte. Sefton Stewart of the 77th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, and his family in Richmond, Ontario.  The complete letters will be on display at the Stittsville Public Library in the Museum’s exhibit honouring Goulbourn in wartime. In addition to Sefton Stewart’s letters, there will also be local artefacts from that era, and a book containing the names of local Veterans

The With Love to All exhibition represents the next step in a true community effort to preserve, document, and share the Sefton Stewart letters and remember the wartime sacrifices of Goulbourn community members. Join Tracey Donaldson and Sarah Holla in conversation on the evening of June 22 to learn about the invaluable community contributions that have made the With Love to All project possible and the path that led the undertaking of this novel exhibition.

The event will take place on Tuesday, June 22 at 7:00pm via zoom and is free to attend. Register by noon on June 22 at Eventbrite.ca. Registrants will receive the zoom link on the day of the presentation. Should you have any questions, please email the Museum at: register@goulbournmuseum.ca.


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