Handing Over the Reins

More than ten years ago, I began research on the Veterans of Guysborough County project. My goal at the time was to identify all First and Second World War veterans who were born or had a distinct connection with the county and who served in Canada or overseas during the war years. I naively believed I could accomplish this goal within a few years and produce a book from the data. I was wrong on many levels.

From the start, I knew I couldn’t do it alone; there were too many veterans. Kelly Kaiser who lived in Sherbrooke, Guysborough County agreed to tackle the huge project with me. We became partners, each gathering information on a select group of veterans. We exchanged information, tips and leads.

Soon after we began compiling lists for each war, we discovered one book wouldn’t contain all the veterans. We decided to create two books, one for each war. A few years passed and the names and information kept growing. We learnt that two years wasn’t going to be enough time and we ploughed onward.

Stephen Ellsworth Tibert
My father (Stephen Tibert, left) served all over Italy, Belgium and Holland with the West Nova Scotia Regiment during the Second World War.

My third child arrived, and I learnt how to breastfeed with one hand and enter data with the other. The baby fell asleep in my arms as I added veterans to the ever-growing lists and updated the Veterans of Guysborough County website.

Kelly became ill and had to put the project aside. I kept going, hoping she would be well again and that someday she’d return to the research. Kelly’s health improved but she didn’t continue with the project. I went on alone with my family growing around me. Other things in life took priority and eventually, I realised I couldn’t continue with the project by myself. I put everything on hold, believing that sometime in the future, I’d pick up where I had left off.

This past November, I received an email from Bruce, the son of Joseph MacDonald who had contributed information on dozens of veterans. Bruce wanted to create a book with Guysborough County veterans who served in the First World War, and he wanted it ready for the hundredth anniversary of the start of the Great War. He wondered if I would share the information I had gathered.

I agreed to share the information because I want to see this book finished. I’d prefer it if I had written it, but I don’t see this happening within the next five years. Three kids, a barnyard full of animals and other commitments consume my time.

Bruce created a blog to promote the project and to keep people abreast of his progress. Learn more about the veterans of the First World War project, read biographies of veterans and submit information concerning a veteran by visiting First World War Veterans Being Immortalised

Hats off to Bruce for taking on this large project.

7 thoughts on “Handing Over the Reins

  1. Diane you have done so much work. Congratulations for a job well done and the courtesy to turn it over; I too am glad you will be mentioned. You contributed more than you will ever know to many families for their loved ones, for future generations as well. Thank you


    • Thank you, Irene. The veterans of Guysborough County have a special place in my life. It’s difficult to see someone else take over the project, but I feel it is in good hands.


  2. I hope you at least get a mention for all you have done to help in the gathering of the information.
    My dad was in the North Nova Scotia Regiment during the Second World War.


    • Yes, Lynn, Bruce assured me that I would be mentioned for the work I’ve done.

      I had an uncle who served with the North Novies. He was wounded badly on D-Day plus 2 and spent the next several months being moved from one hospital to the next, eventually returning to Canada. Have you read “Two Jacks” about the two soldiers with same first name who were captured on D-Day and escaped into occupied France? It’s a great book and provides an interesting view of life in France at the time.


  3. The important thing is that the book get exposure. The information you gathered, Diana, is invaluable – you did a good thing by sharing it.


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