The Fernie Museum hosted a symposium in honour of their current exhibition, Fernie at War: The Morrissey Internment Camp. Hosted over the weekend of Aug. 21 to Aug. 23, the event featured discussion and lectures from six noted researchers who contributed to the exhibition with around 15 guests in attendance.
“In many communities there are those stories that everybody knows and then there are those stories that no body knows. This happens to fall into that latter category, where some people may have heard part of the story but not all of the story,” said Ron Ulrich, the director and curator at the Fernie Museum. He said that this exhibit was important to present because it is a large part of Fernie’s history that rarely is talked about.
Interment at Morrissey Creek happened during the First World War, where men of non-British decent were considered enemy aliens and corralled into a camp at Morrissey Creek. Ulrich cited that there were many ethnicities effected, including Hungarian, Ukrainian, German and other Eastern European minorities.
Ulrich and his team timed the exhibit to coincide with the 100th anniversary of interment at Morrissey Creek, roughly eight kilometers out of Fernie. The exhibit, which opened on June 5 and runs until Sept. 7, is complimented by the symposium, intended foster strong discussions about the historical event and how to further research it. “One of our goals is to bring all of the players that have been interested in Morrissey in one facet or another into the same room, and from across the country, and let them talk about what they know and what their research has brought them to understand of the Morrissey story,” said Ulrich. He continued by saying that another goal of the event was to plan for a future archeological survey of the internment campsite to learn more about what exactly happened there a century ago.
“I’m always very interested in the social history of communities and how do communities function, and how do people in communities relate. How does this happen that on June 9, 1915, suddenly 300 men, single men from this community were rounded up and brought into a concentration camp? And how do people in the community just kind of watch? To me, that’s always the story,” said Ulrich.
Ulrich said that the community has been supportive of the exhibition, both in terms of viewing the exhibit at the museum and with material support. Patty Vadinas of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Mary Giuliano attended part of the symposium to show their support and interest.