Ingersoll museum hosts interactive Vimy 100 commemoration

By Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Ingersoll residents got a chance to step back in time Sunday when the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum held an interactive event commemorating the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Victoria Park was transformed into the frontlines of the First World War for the Vimy 100 event, where re-enactors dressed as soldiers shared their stories with museum visitors.

Bagpipe music filled the air for part of the day as the Ingersoll Pipe Band stood in a circle in the middle of the park while soldiers marched back and forth to the beat of the song.

Visitors could also participate in both bayonet or grenade-tossing lessons, learn about first aid on the front lines or the different kinds of weapons used in the First World War.

Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum curator Scott Gillies said the Vimy 100 event took two years to plan and bring together for Sunday.

“I think people are going to learn some of the details and some of the experiences that men and women went through during the (First World War),” Gillies said. “Some people are here today in memory of ancestors who served, so it’s an especially poignant moment for them to get a sense of the basic training that those people had to go through.”

While people may learn in many different ways, being able to experience first-hand recreations of what soldiers went through during the First World War is a great way to understand it.

“Being able to actually take part and sort of immerse yourself in the opportunity gives you a better understanding,” the curator said. “Some people learn by reading, some by viewing and then, if you do it, you can fully understand.”

Kenneth “Magoo” McGregor was portraying his grandfather, Maj. Thomas Gibson, who was the recruitment officer in Ingersoll from 1914 to 1916. McGregor said it was very interesting to be able to portray his grandfather.

“It connects into history,” he said. “I’ve heard many stories about my grandfather, but he passed away in the ‘20s, so they’ve only ever been stories to me. This, in a way, brings it more to life.”