Project 44 will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Canadian Combat Operations in the Normandy Campaign covering the 6th of June to the 30th of August 1944. Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA) Executive Director Nathan Kehler has been working out of the Garrison Petawawa Military Museums to scan various old maps. He has been aided by Collections Manager Seana Jones. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)


Project 44 mapping out D-Day for website

By Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post

Posted on Thursday November 8, 2018


Project 44 is mapping out Canadian Combat Operations in World War II from Juno Beach to the closing of Falaise Gap.

Launched by the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA), the project will honour the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Old maps, war diaries, and photographs will be scanned, restored and then made available online through a dynamic website where visitors can learn more about Canadian involvement in the conflict.

“It is a great way to commemorate our veterans and our fallen,” said CRMA Executive Director Nathan Kehler. “There memories are going to go forward into the digital age.”

Historians, researchers, and cartographers will appreciate the in-depth facts while the laymen will enjoy its impressive history and detail. The information that Kehler and his team will provide is all primary sources without a bias or slant so that people can shape their own opinions based on hard facts. Information on the allies will be included but not in as much detail.

To further the site’s interactivity, people will be invited to share their own photographs and stories and there will be backlinks so they can find out where each original map or war diary can be found.

“People will get to see where all the battles were in a very dynamic way,” said Kehler. “They’ll get to see it any way that they want. They’ll be able to zoom in, zoom out, go to specific dates or a specific unit.

“Text is very two dimensional,” he added. “You add a third dimension with the maps and you add a fourth dimension with the war diaries.”

It isn’t an easy process, but as a former master corporal Geomatics Technician, it is a passion.
He does require the help of three volunteers to uncover all the details as well as partnerships with libraries, archives, and museums. 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER) has also loaned Kehler a large scanner so he can more accurately scan massive maps.

He is currently working out of the Garrison Petawawa Military Museums.

“He offered to scan our maps which is huge because we don’t have a scanner,” said Collections Manager Seana Jones.

“It has been a really great partnership with Project 44,” she added, pointing out that she hopes to also create a digital archive so that people can enjoy the artifacts from anywhere in the world.

Kehler has been uncovering what is lost when going through the museum archives. He even came across a box of old World War II maps that had been lost.

“I was jumping up and down like a little kid,” said Kehler.

“This is an example of a treasure that we had in our museum that we were unaware of,” said Jones. “It was a great find and I’m thankful that we found it in time to preserve it, lay them out and give them the attention that they need.”

About 60 per cent of the project has been completed. It still requires maps from the ground units as well as the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force, which were all instrumental in ensuring success during the War.

He is looking for volunteers willing to help out with this project as well as for volunteers for the upcoming Project 45, where the remainder of the war will be mapped out. The project will continue to grow and incorporate all Canadian involvement overseas.

The completed website will be launched next year at www.project44.ca. Photos and sneak previews can be found online www.facebook.com/Canada1944 and www.instagram.com/project1944.

More information about the project can also be found at www.project44.ca