She sees an exhibit of her work currently showing at the Kings County Museum in Kentville as a different way for people to experience Remembrance.
“Remembrance Road: Photographs from the Battlefields of Europe” showcases the work of travel photographer and blogger Justine MacDonald of Kentville. The exhibit is showing until Dec. 12.
MacDonald and her aunt made a pilgrimage to Eastern Europe for the centennial commemorations of the Battle of Vimy Ridge this past April. The 10-day trip with Go Ahead Tours included France, Belgium and the Netherlands. They visited several infamous battlefields, which MacDonald photographed.
MacDonald said she is from a military family and has an interest in military history. They lived in Germany for five years and did a lot of travelling to sites of historically significant World War battles.
“I think the first time I’d been to Vimy was in 1998 and I decided then and there on that day that I wanted to come back for the centenary,” MacDonald said.
She believes that everyone should visit these sites to get a sense for the massive loss of life that occurred during the First and Second World Wars. She’d always planned to revisit the sites as a more experienced photographer with better equipment.
MacDonald appreciates that it isn’t practical for everyone to make such a pilgrimage, so her goal was to put on an exhibit of her photographs and to do a series of talks to share her experiences with the community. Her last talk will be at the Kings County Museum on Nov. 28.
MacDonald said she is very thankful to the museum for giving her the opportunity to have an exhibit shown in relation to Remembrance Day, the Vimy centenary and Canada’s 150th birthday.
“I’m just really happy that they saw promise in what work they had seen because they agreed this exhibit before I went on the trip,” MacDonald said. “I appreciate their faith in me to bring back good photographs.”
She said there are certain sites that “get her” every time she visits, including Vimy, the Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood trenches in Belgium’s Flanders Fields and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland.
“Just walking through there, there are no words to really describe how that feels,” MacDonald said.
She also photographed The Somme in Beaumont-Hamel, the Dieppe Colonnade and Juno Beach in Normandy, France, the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery in the Netherlands and several other sites.
Photos on display as part of the exhibit, as well as postcards featuring the photos, are available for sale with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the museum. MacDonald is an active Kings Historical Society board member. There is a self-published book on display as part of the exhibit entitled “European Battlefield Tour 2017” that features more photos, descriptions and stories from her trip. Some of her work is also featured in the museum’s Canada 150 Chair photographic exhibit.
MacDonald has a small exhibit showing at the Nova Scotia Community College Institute of Technology Campus in Halifax as part of the Photopolis Festival until Nov. 15. She works at the Early Childhood Development Support Centre at the NSCC Kingstec Campus.
MacDonald has 30 years experience as a photographer and is also known online as Aurora Lee. For more information or to view more of MacDonald’s work, visit www.justinemacdonald.photography.
Did you know?
The work of a budding military historian is being featured by the Kings County Museum in honour of Remembrance Day.
Alex Comeau, a Grade 8 French immersion student at Evangeline Middle School in New Minas, met with Second World War veteran Gordon Hansford of Kentville this past summer. In a video interview, he asked searching questions about Hansford’s wartime experiences.
The full interview, approximately a half hour long, can be viewed at the museum and on the museum’s Facebook page.
Comeau is from a military family and is a member of the 2444 RCACC army cadets. He is most engaged with First World War history.