The Diocese of London found the book in 2007 when it was preparing to close Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Windsor, Ont. On Friday it uploaded the 57-page scrapbook in PDF format to its website in time for Remembrance Day.
Debra Majer said she stumbled upon the scrapbook “in a musty box.”
“I knew I had stumbled across something extraordinary and so unique,” Majer said. “This was truly a national treasure. “
The scrapbook has been preserved in the diocesan archives. Because it’s too fragile for physical handling or public display the diocesan archivist has digitized the entire scrapbook.
The diocese has no idea who was responsible for collecting and compiling the information in the scrapbook.
Each entry consists of the name and age of the person enlisted, the battalion or unit identification number, marital status, name of spouse, number of children and home address.
Some biographies include a photo, too — most of them show men in uniform.
Those who were killed in action are marked with a white cross.
“It reveals so much information about the person,” Majer said. “It’s very concise. These are not long entries with extended information but the info provided is so beneficial.”
Every biography is typed on an index card from the Ford Motor Company of Canada.
Majer said a large percentage of the parish worked at Ford Motor Company at the time and she figures an employee took the cards from work.
Majer said ever since the book was discovered it was the diocese’s mission to find a way to make it accessible.
“I needed to do something with this document for Remembrance Day and make it accessible to the public,” Majer said. “In the last five years, there’s been repeated requests for this book.”
Majer said the book is a prime example of taking a vulnerable document and making it available for the public.
“But most notably, it was a nice way for us to celebrate Remembrance Day with such a fitting document,” Majer said.