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Bytown Gunners Firepower Musem (BGFM)

The origins of a 30th Field museum dates back to before 1964 when the regiment was still located in Ste. Anne’s Hall on St. Patrick Street. There was no room set aside for the collection, but the officers’ mess contained numerous artefacts on display. Over the next several decades, items were either displayed in small temporary rooms or space was found around the offices, and the various messes.

Finally, in early 2013 the Regiment moved into a new building and dedicated museum space was assigned.  An initial 900 square foot was allocated for the museum display with an equal amount allocated for office and research space.  In addition to the original main museum space, display space is allocated in the hallways (on the walls or in cabinets), additional areas in the various messes, and some gun display space in the regimental gunshed itself. The latter houses a regimental display of old artillery pieces used by the Bytown Gunners over their history.  A separate space for a light machine shop has just arrived.

Named “The Bytown Gunners Firepower Museum” it received a museum designation that same year.  Over the next two years, with extensive financial and volunteer assistance from Regimental friends, the museum was built and the grand opening was held in 2015.

The formal concept of the BGFM is that of a “living museum”, displaying the history of the regiment and its batteries so that all present and future serving members are reminded of the proud service performed for the citizens of Ottawa and for Canada.

This is in keeping with the original mission statement laid out in 1981 as the museum’s mandate:

  1. To preserve the history of the Militia, specifically the 30th Fd Arty Regt RCA, through the collection and preservation of artifacts and documents of historical significance to the Regt and its antecedent units;

  1. To display and illustrate in an appropriate manner the dress, weapons, military equipment, and customs of the Regt’s heritage;

  1. To serve as a training medium to teach Regimental history and to provide a scholarly basis for those studying the Militia, the Regt, and its antecedent units, and their historical significance in the National Capital Region; and

  1. To foster in the community an interest and sense of pride in the Regt and its accomplishments.

As the museum grows, so does its credibility and professionalism within the museum community. Interactions with other military collections across Canada and involvement with the Organization of Military Museums of Canada have provided a great source of advice, experience, and education to the museum’s staff. The museum has also acquired numerous artefacts through this interchange of information and contacts.

This increased credibility has also blossomed into a loan agreement with the Canadian War Museum. Thanks to its fantastic help and encouragement, four additional artillery pieces are on display with the regiment from the national museums’ system. Now, in the regimental gunshed, visitors can view and touch the famous Parliament buildings “Noon Day” cannon that was fired each day at precisely 12:00 PM for roughly sixty years. In addition, the BGFM acquired a carronade (a small cannon) and a 9-pounder gun from the South African War era.

During 2016 the museum also received donations of artefacts from private individuals including a collection of 159 artillery shells, casings, and fuzes, several flint-lock pistols and rifles, and other personal military effects. More than 1,500 books and journals have been donated to the BGFM, allowing it to start building a solid technical library as well as an emerging regimental military history library.

Work on creating high-quality, professional displays continues, along with the required research and technical preparation which makes it possible. To carry out this work, the BGFM relies upon volunteer museum staff whose dedication to the project is second to none.

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