Shawn had flown in from Victoria BC with the figures, and Robert flew in from the UK with most of the terrain; in the days leading up to the event they carved out the underlying hills from foamboard, which they bought locally rather than fly in. All told, it was a 10' x 6' table, representing 10km x 6km of the battlefield at GWSH's ground scale.
For Sunday we were able to leave every set up overnight, but by the time I arrived that morning, about 45 minutes before the museum opened, I found Shawn and Robert already swarmed by visitors. In the end we estimated a few thousand came by to chat that day.
It was a really special experience for me to help out, with some very moving moments as we met people who's great and great-great grandfathers fought there, in some cases were wounded or killed there. We met two people, rather elderly, who's father's had fought, and one person who's uncle was killed there. We also met one gentleman who's grandfather had fought there, in the German artillery. In most cases we were able to find where on the battlefield they had been and show the path of their ancestor's unit. One of my great-grandfathers was there, and I was able to do that for myself thanks to Shawn's notes.
What I found most interesting is how many people came prepared to talk about their family's involvement at Vimy with their military records on their phones, tablets, or hardcopy. I saw several who stayed at the table for an hour or more, many came back later to see it again after being to the museum displays, from what I heard they really appreciated being able to see the entire layout and being able to pull back for a larger view after the more focused perspectives inside the museum.
I feel a bit bad for Shawn and Robert, as they would often get swarmed as the visitors realized how much knowledge they had, and they had trouble getting breaks in over the course of the days. I, on the other hand, had the luxury of being able to answer what I could and then pointing to one of them and saying "and there's the real expert if you want to know more."
Perhaps the most sobering conversation I had over the weekend was with a middle-aged man who'd grown up in Vietnam during that war, with his father and older brothers serving and his village being on the front lines (such as they were) often. He said he always brought his Vietnamese-Canadian children to events like this to remind them war is terrible and many had made sacrifices on their behalf for their freedom and opportunities.
Some photos from the weekend, mainly of the great table Shawn and Robert put together (6mm figures):
I also got to meet some Ottawa-area gamers who were also out helping for the weekend, which was great as I'd been planning to come to Cangames this year, and as you'll see in a couple of blog posts, I made it!