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family history stories,
please select a theme  of your choice:

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 School Days 
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Rural Living
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Arts & Entertainment
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Urban Living
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Preserving the Family History Stories of Our Community

Provided by the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS), Victoria, BC, Canada

Volunteers from the Victoria Genealogical Society provide senior citizens the opportunity to have stories about their heritage or autobiographical stories about their earlier years recorded and preserved digitally along with accompanying photographs.  There stories and photographs are then published here on the Victoria Genealogical Society's "Voices of the Past" web pages where family members, friends and others can enjoy them now and in the future, and from anywhere in the world.

Story topics and themes presented in these audio recordings may include family traditions, community celebrations, occupations, school days, military service and more.  Visit each of our theme pages to access these audio stories and photos.

These pages are provided free of charge as a community service, to help encourage the recording and preservation of family history and personal memories.

For inquiries about upcoming FREE recording sessions locations and times, please email

Download an updated "Voices of the Past" poster (PDF format) and help us share the word!


ALBERT HARWOOD - Speed Buggy versus Tiger Tank

Press the "play" (triangular) button above
to listen to the audio clip.

Prince Philip talks to Police Officer Albert Harwood
about his war medals during his visit to Victoria BC - 1982
(click on photo to enlarge in another window)

Albert Harwood, an original member of the WWII Assault Troop called the Commonwealth Force, recalls some war time experiences including his 'run in' with a German Tiger tank. Albert explains that, when the 8th New Brunswick tank outfit ran out of petrol and were cut off behind German lines, the job of delivering them the gas fell to Albert and his little reconnaissance tank. Nicknamed a "Speed Buggy", they stripped the armor off his reconnaissance tank and loaded it up with gasoline to deliver to the 8th.

 Albert had to deliver the gas by cover of night. Using only his compass to guide him, he headed off into the darkness, going through the German lines.  But somewhere in the night he ran into something which stopped him dead in his tracks: a German Tiger Tank. Listen to Albert explain how, when the Tiger's turrent turns towards him, he raced his "recce" tank off in the opposite direction, through a ditch and on to finish his delivery.

Albert also describes the dancing in the streets when the war was finally over and how, when looking for a new post in anything but tanks, he signed up with the Military Police, which ultimately led to his working for the Victoria Police Department after the war.

NOTE: Albert also fought in Italy during the war, and was awarded medals. 
The above photograph was taken in 1982 during a visit by
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to Victoria BC,
where Albert was on duty with the Victoria Police Force. 
The Prince had noticed Albert's WWII medals and stopped
to talk to him about his service in Italy.
He left by saying "I want to thank you for your service."



Posted 4 Aug 2014

Three new audio stories have been added to the Voices of the Past memory project. Listen to Albert Harwood, WWII veteran and retired Victoria Police Officer, as he tells us about working in a radium refinery, his experiences with circus elephants and a war time memory about running his 'speed buggy' into the back of a Tiger tank.

In October, 2013, the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS) launched the "Voices of the Past" memory project to promote the importance of recording and preserving family history stories and personal memoirs. Since then, Merv Scott, VGS Project Director, recorded a number of varied and interesting stories at seniors homes and at recording sessions at the Greater Victoria Public Library. These digital audio files have been edited and posted on our "Voices of the Past" website, designed by Claudia Boorman, VGS Webmaster, along with a text summary of each story and an accompanying photo. Stories are grouped on separate "theme" pages such as "Military", "Business and Occupations", "Arts and Entertainment", "School Days" and more. Listen to these recordings and you will understand why we believe these short glimpses of the past are so worth preserving. Current and future generations will certainly learn from and enjoy these stories.

Since our launch of the Voices of the Past memory project the VGS has received welcome attention from the media and support from other organizations. The VGS is  proud  that in May 2014 the Saanich Archives endorsed the VGS "Voices of the Past" program.



5 May 2014

The Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS) is proud to report that the Saanich Archives has endorsed the VGS "Voices of the Past" program. "We will also be offering Saanich residents the opportunity to have their Voices of the Past recordings preserved at the Saanich Archives for posterity" says Merv Scott, Project Director, Victoria Genealogical Society.

Saanich Archives collections link:
(Note the oral histories - typed transcriptions or summaries only available on their website)


Posted 22 Nov 2013

Since our launch of our new digital memory project "Voices of the Past" in October 2013, we have held the first of several story-recording sessions at the Greater Victoria Public Library.  Times Colonist journalist Richard Watts was on hand to witness an interview and talk to both Merv Scott, VGS project leader for "Voices of the Past", and Sula Brown who was sharing her amazing heritage stories with us.

The article in Victoria's Times Colonist is titled "Voices of the Past program allows history to speak for itself" and also includes interviews with Trudie Duxbury who already has some wonderful stories on our "Voices" website.

For those interested in having their stories recorded, please check out our "Voices of the Past" website, or contact VGS Project Director Merv Scott at



Posted 20 Nov 2013

The Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) continues to support the VGS "Voices of the Past" memory project by providing promotional materials and recording space at their various libraries in and around Victoria, BC, Canada.

Our first GVPL recording session was held 15 Nov 2013, and we are proud to announce that three new stories have now been posted on our new heritage theme page.

Upcoming and FREE recording sessions at GVPL have now been scheduled for "Voices of the Past":

People must register in advance to reserve a free time slot.
To register, please send your email to



Posted 26 Oct 2013

  VGS launches digital memory project - team members Pat, Claudia and Merv
VVGS President Pat Acton celebrates the launch of our new digital memory project "Voices of the Past"  with team members Claudia Boorman and Merv Scott.

The Victoria Genealogical Society is proud to announce the launch of "Voices of the Past" - creating family history legacies with the power of spoken words.

In front of an enthusiastic crowd of 60 plus attendees to the VGS Annual Genealogy Seminar today, VGS Project Director Merv Scott announced that the new "Voices of the Past" website was now online here on

Voices of the Past was designed to provide seniors the opportunity to have their autobiographical stories recorded and preserved digitally where family members, friends and others can enjoy them now and in the future, and from anywhere in the world.

Voices of the Past home page screenshot Oct 2013The first few stories that have been recorded by volunteers are now posted to these new web pages. Simply by visiting our VGS home page, you can click on the "Voices of the Past" button  in the Quick Links section, or click on "Voices" in the top menu bar to access the drop down menu links, to access this new section of our website.

Upcoming recording sessions are scheduled for November 15, 2013 and December 10, 2013 at the Greater Victoria Public Library and November 21, 2013 at the VGS Resource Centre.  Don't miss these limited time opportunities to have your story, or your loved one's story, recorded and posted to Voices of the Past.

Advance registration is required to reserve a recording session time slot. Register by email to

More details are available by downloading the full media News Release for Voices of the Past - Creating Family History Legacies with the Power of Spoken Words.

Please help us spread the word about this program and community service by downloading and sharing our Voices of the Past Poster with others.



Posted 20 Sep 2013

Local military historian and VGS member Bart Armstrong recently provided this positive feedback on our "Voices of the Past" project and website prior to its official launch.

"I have just had an absolute privilege of having viewed three videos [ed - audio clips and text summaries] with regards to Ron Sample's and Trudy Duxbury’s military recollections of the WW11 era. All brought tears to my eyes.  In my journeys I have heard so many of these types of stories.  And I was even in three movies about the military as a youth myself in Toronto, and one here a few years back. So I could relate quite easily to the shouts to CUT CUT CUT  and ACTION  ACTION ACTION.  These three clips were so wonderfully done... in the very voices of those who were there instead of someone else telling how they thought it might have happened.

"I am so pleased with my association with the VGS and the work we all do, and had to stop what I had to be doing this very minute to send you this email and ask that you personally convey [thanks to those who] brought me and the world these three wonderful stories. ...

"To each who has played a role in this venture, the next time you stand in front of the mirror, give yourself a salute.  You deserve it."

Thank you Bart - we appreciate this!



At the September 2012 meeting of the Victoria Genealogical Society Executive, a motion was put forward by Merv Scott, VGS Project Director, to approve in principle an audio memory community outreach project that would help preserve our local oral history and be accessible to all on our VGS website.  The motion was passed, and Merv is now busy finalizing project guidelines for approval.

Merv announced the initiation of this Voices of the Past memories project to an approving crowd at the VGS Annual Genealogy Seminar held in Victoria on 20 October 2012 in Victoria, BC.