Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Lt Cyril McLellan Mowbray, St Paul’s Church, Halifax, NS

Each soldier tells a story.

A memorial plaque in St Paul’s Church, Grand Parade, Halifax, names three members of the Mowbray family: father, Lt Col John Arthur Clarke Mowbray; mother, Sadie McLellan Mowbray; and son, Cyril McLellan Mowbray.

Cyril was born in Halifax on 23 March 1898. On 23 March 1916, his 18th birthday, he attested at Shorncliffe (England). (Address of next-of-kin, his father, was London.) He listed his occupation as clerk. He was attached initially to the pay office in London. Eventually he joined a unit at Bramshott. He was granted a commission in July 1917 and sent to France in August with the 5th Battalion. He was hospitalized briefly in September for scabies.

On 10 November 1917, he was reported wounded. On 26 November, the report was ‘wounded and missing’. On 29 December, the report was changed to ‘killed in action’. From the Circumstances of Death Register:

Previously reported Wounded and Missing now Killed in Action. A non-commissioned officer of his company states he saw Lieut Mowbray lying on a road north west of Passchendaele, he had apparently been going to the rear wounded when hit a second time causing him to become delirious. He made him as comfortable as possible and went to get a stretcher. He could not get one but brought a comrade to assist him. They tried to lift him but found he had no use of either of his legs, both appeared to be broken above the knee. While going up the road for more assistance, he himself was wounded and while being carried to a dressing station he again passed Lieut Mowbray who then appeared to be dead.

Body last seen at approximate Sheet 28.D.5.b.9.6, near road running between Meetcheele and Mosselmarkt.

Cyril McLellan Mowbray’s name is on the Menin Gate, Ieper (Ypres). In addition to the plaque in St Paul’s, he is also remembered on the family gravestone in St John’s Cemetery, Bedford Rd, Halifax. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial lists him as the only son of Lt. Col. J. A. C. and Sadie Mowbray. The family gravestone names three other children who died in infancy.


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Peace Tower, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Armistice Day, 1918 – Remembrance Day, 2019

This war, like the next war, is a war to end war.
David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister

Patriotism is not dying for one’s country, it is living for one’s country. And for humanity. Perhaps that is not as romantic, but it’s better.
Agnes Macphail, Canadian Member of Parliament

On this day of remembrance, may we learn from war as we strive for peace … and freedom and democracy and equality and justice.


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Recipes for Victory

It started with the Great War Food Symposium at the Fort York National Historic Site in 2014. A day of lectures, displays, demonstrations and tastings. The symposium evolved into Recipes for Victory: Great War Food from the Front and Kitchens Back Home in Canada – a delectable combination of essays, recipes, photos and illustrations that let you experience the war through your eyes and your tastebuds.

The essays explore the politics of food supply during the war, in Canada and on the front. Canadians were entreated to use less of some foods – meat, flour, butter and eggs, for example – so they could be exported for the troops and allied civilians in Britain. There was a tension between the need for farm workers and the need for cannon fodder. Farm and food production fell during the war, as many men who normally worked in agriculture and food processing enlisted. Government programs promoted home gardening and preserving, enabled cultivation of vacant land, and recruited women as farmerettes in the Farm Service Corps. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Burrard Street Bridge Memorial Braziers, Vancouver

In the early dawn of any weekday, commuters* stream north over False Creek on the Burrard Street Bridge, heading into downtown Vancouver. At either end of the bridge, two reminders of WW1 stand guard.

The Burrard Street Bridge opened on 1 July 1932. Architect George Lister Thornton Sharp and engineer John R Grant, both WW1 veterans, incorporated a tribute to WW1 prisoners of war into the bridge: bronze lamps in the form of charcoal braziers like those the PoWs had huddled around to keep warm.

The brazier lamps are about a storey high, on art deco pylons about four storeys high. The lamps were replaced in 1965 (the originals had corroded) and again when the bridge was rehabilitated in 2017 (to be fitted with LED lights). A plaque was placed on the northeast pylon when the lamps were relit in 2018:

Burrard Bridge Memorial Braziers

Installed in 1932, the lighted braziers at the top of the four pylons on this bridge memorialize British Columbians who served in the First World War. The braziers have been restored and symbolize the service by all Canadians in subsequent wars and peacekeeping missions.


*The bridge is designed for vehicles, pedestrians and, for the past 10 years or so, bicycles. It is one of the busiest cycling routes in North America.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Plaque, Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI

Victoria Community Hall was built in 1915 at the corner of Howard and Main Streets in Victoria-by-the-Sea, on the south shore of Prince Edward Island. During WW1, it was used a recruitment hall. Following the war, the School District of Victoria mounted a plaque on the east side of the hall “in honor of the boys who served in the Great War of 1914-1918.” Two were killed in action (Heath MacQuarrie and Arthur Collett), one died on military service (Bertram Penpraise). In addition to 31 other men who served, two nurses are named: Lucy Howatt and Olga Myers. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Étaples Military Cemetery, Étaples, France

Étaples Military Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in France, with more than 10,000 burials from WW1. Twenty women are buried there, more than in any other CWGC cemetery on the Western Front. Étaples, a port town south of Boulogne, served as an Allied training base, supply depot, prisoner detention centre, and “Hospital City” during WW1.

Six of the women were killed in action. The others died of illness, mostly pneumonia or influenza. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – War Memorial, Wheatley River, PEI

Wheatley River is a settlement in Queens County, Prince Edward Island, between Hunter River and Rustico where Routes 224, 251 and 243 meet. Like many communities, Wheatley River remembered its citizens who died in WW1 (and later WW2) on a local war memorial.

Wheatley River – Lest we forget – Built of a people’s love to the memory of our heroic dead, 1914-1918.

Twelve WW1 names are on the memorial. Six names are listed as killed in action, three died of wounds, three died from war services. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Georgina Fane Pope, Summerside, PEI

A plaque on the wall of the Summerside Armoury at 33 Summer Street, Summerside (now home to the International Fox Museum and Hall of Fame) is dedicated to Georgina Pope.

Cecily Jane Georgina Fane Pope was born in 1862, the daughter of William Pope (a Father of Confederation) and Helen DesBrisay. Georgina was one of nine children. She trained as a nurse in NY, then worked in the US before being appointed to serve with a contingent of Canadian nurses 1899, in support of the British Army during the South African War. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cathedral Church of St Peter, Charlottetown, PEI

The Cathedral Church of St Peter, located on Rochford Square at the corner of All Souls’ Lane and Rochford Street in Charlottetown, makes claim to being the smallest cathedral in Canada. Opened in 1869, the church is 150 years old in 2019.

Inside, a framed Honour Roll names 75 members and former members of the cathedral who served in the Great War. A bronze plaque repeats the names of the 10 parishioners who were killed. They had served with the Canadian, British and Australian Expeditionary Forces. One of these – Stewart Simpson – was the son of the cathedral’s canon. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Capt John Russell Woods, allsaints, Ottawa

Each soldier tells a story.

John Russell Woods was born into a prominent Ottawa family, the oldest son of Lt-Col James W Woods and Ida Edwards Woods. The family lived in Kildare House, at 323 Chapel St. The 1911 census lists the two parents, five children, one governess and seven servants at the address.

Woods Manufacturing developed a light, water-repellent canvas, and held the contract to supply tents and canvas to the imperial armies. You can credit the company for the ubiquitous puffy coats and vests worn in winter: the Woods Arctic Eiderdown Sleeping Robe is considered to be the first modern sleeping bag, using down instead of feathers and keeping the down in place with compartments. Continue reading