Military historian fulfills his dream

by | Nov 16, 2023

Aaron Bouma celebrates the grand opening of the Carleton County Military Museum

“If you build it, they will come” is an adage that reaches beyond the Field of Dreams. It also describes a young man’s determination to construct a fitting shrine to his community’s brave fighting men and women.

The culmination of what to many seemed like an impossible dream brought a broad smile to Aaron Bouma’s face on Saturday, Nov. 4, as he welcomed visitors to the grand opening of his newly opened Carleton County Military Museum.

“It was an impeccable turnout,” Bouma said of the dozens who arrived at his home in Jacksontown, north of Woodstock, to view the hundreds of artifacts on display in the structure he built with help from family, friends and local tradespeople.

Among those on hand to congratulate Bouma on realizing his dream and providing an exciting and educational archive of military history were military and government members, past and present.

New Brunswick Education Minister and Carleton MLA Bill Hogan presented Bouma with a certificate of appreciation.

Tobique-Mactaquac MP Richard Bragdon arrived with his family to tour the museum and praise Bouma for his dedication to sharing and honouring Canada’s rich military history.

“He did a great job,” said Bragdon as Bouma detailed the significance of many of the hundreds of artifacts on display. “It’s a testament to his hard work.”

Former New Brunswick Premier and Carleton MLA David Alward, who watched Bouma as a teenager expand and share his fast military knowledge, joined the crowd at the official opening. 

Bouma said Alward always encouraged and supported his military passion.

“He’s the one who gave me the title, Carleton County’s Military Historian,” he said.

Bouma said the museum idea originated several years ago after he began sharing his military expertise at schools, the library and public events.

He soon began amassing his remarkable array of artifacts, with one of the most significant sitting outside the entrance to his newly open museum.

Long-time Woodstock-area residents may recognize the anti-aircraft gun built in the U.S. in 1942. It sat at Connell Park for several years.

Bouma said he gathered his artifacts in several ways. Many items came through donations, while he purchased others.

“eBay is my friend,” he laughed.

While Bouma’s focus has always been on Carleton County and New Brunswick history, his displays reach around the globe.

“I have stuff from all over the world,” he said.

Bouma said the open-concept museum will rotate his vast collection every three or four months. They will outline military history, including the Boer War, the First and Second World Wars, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Afghanistan, peacekeeping missions and more.

Dozens of flags from all sides of world conflicts hang from the building’s high rafters, arranged by conflict and timeline.

While personally devoted to all Canadian military history, one corner of the museum hits particularly close to home. It features photos, records and artifacts related to his grandfather, Percy Connors, who spent 32 years in the Canadian Air Force and Navy.

Since his teenage years, Bouma gained fame for his impeccably detailed wooden models of military equipment, ranging from guns to ships to planes. Many models he presented to Canadian Armed Forces officials are now displayed on Canadian military bases.

The rest are displayed in the Carleton County Military Museum at 1120 Route 560, Jacksontown, N.B.

Bouma says he is still determining museum hours, but people can call him at 1-506-323-3713 to arrange a time to tour the museum or visit the Carleton County Military Museum page on Facebook.

Education Minister and Carleton MLA Bill Hogan, left, presents Aaron Bouma with a Certificate of Appreciation from the province for his Carleton County Military Museum. (Tammey McLean photo)
Tobique-Mactaquac MP Richard Bragdon, left, congratulates Aaron Bouma on the opening of Bouma’s Carleton County Military Museum. (Jim Dumville photo)
Aaron Bouma, right, explains some artifacts to Tobique-Mactaquac MP Richard Bragdon and his family. (Jim Dumville photo)
Aaron Bouma’s highly detailed models are on display at the museum. (Jim Dumville photo)
Aaron Bouma stands next to the anti-aircraft gun at the museum entrance. (Jim Dumville photo)
Aaron Bouma pays tribute to his grandfather, Percy Connors, a 32-year Canadian military veteran. (Jim Dumville photo)

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