137th Battalion Regimental Flag

A reproduction of the Sovereigns’ Colour carried by the 137th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, during the First World War is unveiled at the Kings’ Own Gallery, at The Military Museum, Calgary. This flag symbolises the contribution made by the 137th Battalion, a hundred years ago.

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Regimental flags or colours are the focal point of loyalty, spirit, and tradition of a regiment. Before being presented, Colours are always consecrated at a religious ceremony.  Customarily, when a Regimental Colour was too old to be used, or no longer required it was hung in a church. Today it is more common for them to be given to a museum for long term care. The 137th Battalion Regimental Colour is deposited at the Glenbow Museum.

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Restoration of the Kings’ Own Gallery at The Military Museum called for a display signifying the contribution of the 137th Battalion. A reproduction of the Sovereigns’ Colour was thought appropriate.

As with conservation work, before beginning, we documented the original Colour with photographs, diagrams, and a written report giving detailed information on materials and construction. A full-size maquette was prepared of the Colour and its intricate embroidery.

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Reproducing the Sovereigns’ Colour was realised entirely by hand, using the same quality hand-cut silk fabrics and threads utilised for the original. The royal crown and emblazon of Battle Honours was hand-embroidered on both sides in coloured silk and gold bullion, and similarly fringed.

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This project for the Kings’ Own Calgary Regiment has given us access to a treasure trove of textiles, embroiderers, and gold lace suppliers.

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We have to look now at designing a display case, and how to mount the Colour for exhibition in the newly restored Gallery. Mounts, of course, should respond to the needs of the object as well as the aesthetic of the exhibition. Textiles, such as Regimental Colours, are very high maintenance. Words like sympathetic come to mind, they must never be stressed, and should be well supported and comfortable.

Preference for the mount is for it to be inconspicuous – invisible if at all possible. Our next step will be choosing the type and colour of fabric to wrap the mount, and cover the display case interior…

The King’s Own Calgary Regiment traces its origin to the 103rd Regiment, Calgary Rifles raised on 10 April 1910 at Calgary, Alberta. The regiment remained an Active Militia unit during the 1914-1918 War and raised several battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) between 1914 and 1919, including the 137th Battalion.

 The King’s Own Calgary Regiment (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps) Museum is at The Military Museum Calgary 

      

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We’re nearly there!

Mentioned in my previous Blog, an exhibition we’ve been curating with Mary-Beth Lavoilette titled: A Family at War: the Lougheeds, Calgary and the First World War.

The exhibition grows out of the culmination of a career and a family dedicated to public service during the Great War, before and beyond. The challenge: how to tell the vastness of the story in only 60 objects?

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Like any exhibition, it began as a coincidence between the vision of the curators, the objectives of the institution (Lougheed House Conservation Society) and the hoped for interest of the visiting public.  It is also shaped by fragile circumstances, such as limited budgets, resources, and time.

Happily, the past few weeks have marked an exciting moment in the development of the exhibition: we’ve been working with designer Elizabeth Carey bringing together spaces, surfaces, colours, and graphics to support and reveal the stories in the exhibition. This is when things started to become tangible: when the idea becomes a reality.

A tight installation schedule. Given we had only a few days to hang the show, object placement is planned down to the hour.  Yes. We’re nearly there. Installation is almost complete.  Three months have flown by and the calendar says only 2 days left until we open the doors…. The clock says 48 hours!

Opening Reception: October 17, 2014 5:00 pm

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A FAMILY AT WAR: the Lougheeds, Calgary and the First World War.
October 15th, 2014 – January 18th, 2015 – Lougheed House

 

 

 

Ric-A-Dam-Doo Back on Display

After conservation, the flag that inspired Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry returns to PPCLI Hall of Honour at The Military Museum, Calgary.

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Military objects comprise a large portion of the conservation work undertaken here at the LV.Greyes Partnership. In the past few years, our conservators have worked on a number of historically important projects from the regimental galleries at The Military Museum in Calgary, including several regimental colours…

On the 10th of August 2014, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry celebrates its 100th anniversary. In recognition, funding by Canadian Forces has provided an opportunity for the regiment to redevelop its gallery at The Military Museum. With temporary removal of objects, it was decided to evaluate the condition of the Regimental Colour.

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Colours are important symbols of a regiment’s identity. This one, the Ric-A-Dam-Doo with its iconic VP cipher, possesses a special significance. Unique, the Colour was made by Princess Patricia herself more than 100 years ago, and was carried in every regimental action during World War I.

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Given its age and original use, the PPCLI Colour is in remarkable condition. This is largely due to an earlier treatment carried out by textile conservator Gail Niinimaa, who cleaned, aligned, and mounted the flag on a solid support covered with fabric.

So as not to physically destabilize the Colour, the initial stage in treatment was surface cleaning. This was carried out through protective screening using a vacuum fitted with a soft brush with reduced suction to clear particulate build up. The brush moved in a step by step, row by row manner, so as not to damage the fragile silk fabric and metallic embroidery and gold bullion fringe.

Second part of the treatment was to position and secure the Colour to the existing mount, primarily through the support fabric, with some hand-stitching through and around the outer edges. Next the raised appliqué VP cipher and gold bullion fringe was repositioned and secured. Both treatments were executed with ultra-fine mono-filament silk threads.

To protect from dust and accidental soiling, the mounted Colour was reinstalled in its Plexiglas case. Returned to the Hall of Honour at the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Museum, the Colour is again available for public viewing.

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LV.Greyes Partnership is proud to have worked with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, helping to preserve the historic collections, and in celebrating the Regiments century of service to Canada.

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Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was founded by an act of philanthropy by Captain Andrew Hamilton Gault in August 1914, who offered $100,000 to raise and equip a battalion for overseas service at the outbreak of World War 1.

The Regiment bears the name of HRH Princess Patricia of Connaught, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her father, HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn was Governor-General of Canada 1911-1916. Princess Patricia designed and made by hand the regimental flag: crimson with a circular royal blue centre embroidered in gold with the initials V P (Victoria Patricia) her personal cipher, which became known as the Ric-A-Dam-Doo (Gaelic for “cloth of thy mother”).