Opinion: A century ago today

A hundred years ago on Aug. 6, Chilliwack Progress readers read about the start of a war that would change their lives and change the world

The First World War came quietly to Chilliwack.

It didn’t yet have a number, nor even a name. But it would become the defining event of the 20th century, reshaping Europe, Africa and the Middle East, remaking governments and political institutions, and reinventing Canada as a nation.

Few readers who opened their Aug. 6 edition of the Chilliwack Progress 100 years ago today would know that. They could not recognize the impact the coming conflagration would have on their lives, their country and the geo-political world in which they lived.

There were no brash headlines. Just a simple column of type about recruitment – the last of six columns spaced across the front page. (The first? “Making Preparations For Annual Fair,” followed by “Municipal Council Eradicates Weeds.”)

The report reflected the breathless excitement about the coming war that swept through Europe as mobilization began. It was born out of an unshakable confidence, and the belief the war would be brief and relatively bloodless.

It wasn’t.

More than 60,000 Canadians died – twice the number who would die two decades later in the second great conflict of the century.

They were among the millions who would ultimately be consumed by a war unprecedented in scale and, until then, unmatched in mechanized brutality.

Among the dead was a man with strong ties to the Chilliwack Progress – former editor Thomas Edward Caskey.

He left the paper behind to command a unit overseas in 1915. But he didn’t leave it entirely. His letters were carried in the pages of The Progress, giving readers at home a rare glimpse of events in Europe.

And they were rare. With no Internet, no television, not even radio, there was only the newspaper and the brief dispatches it carried, coupled with personal accounts from people like Major Caskey.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the Chilliwack Progress will be carrying excerpts from those reports in the weeks and months ahead, including the letters from Caskey.

We’ll also have news about how readers today can access those pages from the past and read them themselves.

George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Let’s choose to remember.

Just Posted

TV and film a new reality for young Chilliwack actress

Mellany Barros has been a professional actor for only one year, but already shot several productions

Chilliwack native Maleek Irons scores first Canadian Football League touchdown

The former W.J. Mouat Hawks star recorded a major against Toronto on Saturday

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Heroism medal for Chilliwack woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Rifle thefts from Lindell Beach break-and-enter leads to arrest downtown Chilliwack

Andrew Scott Charpentier charged with numerous offences after guns seized from Reece Avenue address

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

BREAKING: Plane reported down at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Man arrested after pimping investigation in Whistler

A 44-year-old man has been charged with procuring and benefiting from sexual services

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

White Rock council opts for compromise in waterfront parking fee hike

Amendment calls for hourly rates of $3.75 instead of $4 from April to September

Province to increase parking, pilot First Nation stewards at busy Joffre Lakes

Two-hundred more parking stalls will bring total spots to allow 450 cars

Search on for black bear that appears to be habituated in Burnaby

The bear lunged at a woman who was trying to shoo it from several backpacks

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

Most Read