The Volunteer is a tribute to 48 men of Almonte and area who were killed in WW1, as well as a tribute to an individual soldier.
Alexander Rosamond was heir to the prosperous Rosamond Woollen Company, a textile mill in Almonte. He happened to be in the UK on business in August 1914, and enlisted in the British army. In June 1915, he was granted a commission in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLIs) in February 1916. He was killed at the Battle of Courcelette on September 15, 1916, aged 43. He has no known grave and his name is on the Vimy Memorial. He left behind his wife Mary and four daughters.
In a codicil to Rosamond’s will was a bequest: I instruct my executors to erect in some promising place in the Town of Almonte, a permanent memorial to all those who lost their lives in the present war who were from the Town of Almonte, Township of Ramsay and surrounding district. The town granted land for the purpose on Bridge St, beside the town hall. The figure was designed by sculptor (and WW1 physician, physical therapist and physical educator) R. Tait McKenzie. The monument was dedicated on September 11, 1923, “to the men of Almonte who fell for freedom.”
Scroll down through the historic photo archive at almonte.com to see photos of the 1923 dedication and of Alex Rosamond.
The Volunteer, by poet Ethel O’Neil McKenzie (wife of Tait McKenzie)
He watches – in a little northern town
Through winter cold and parching summer heat
Where quiet folk go simply up and down
O’er stony bridge and narrow crooked street.
He guards – alone – alert, with clenched hand
In readiness with his young manhood’s might
To spring to action at a word’s command
Uphold his honour and defend his right.
He watches – while the children leave their play
To lay their garlands clustered at his feet
Zinnias and asters from home gardens gay
In little hands held close and warm and sweet.
He smiles – he leans – and every winsome maid
Feels in her heart this joyous chivalry
And lads look starry-eyed and unafraid
To grow to manhood strong and brave as he.
He watches. Oh, ye men with him who fell!
Mighty of valour, bold, unflinching free!
Here, in this place, your spirits seem to dwell
Drawn to the home of your mortality.
He waits! Nor shall his vigil be in vain
Men like to him shall ever pay the price
Shun all dishonor, scorn the thought of pain
And make the great immortal sacrifice!
A memorial to Alexander Rosamond published by his grandchildren in the Ottawa Citizen and the Globe and Mail on September 17, 2016 notes that two of Mary Rosamond’s brothers were killed the same year.
Lt. Charles Penner Cotton (1890 – 1916)
Canadian Field Artillery, killed near Sanctuary Wood, Ypres, June 2, 1916
Capt. Ross Penner Cotton (1892 – 1916)
Canadian Infantry Brigade, killed in action near Ypres, June 13, 1916