Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Windows, City Hall, Kingston, ON … Part 1

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Kingston’s City Hall is a grand 19th century building at 216 Ontario St. One of its formal assembly rooms was renamed Memorial Hall in 1921 by Governor General Lord Byng “in everlasting remembrance of those from this city who fought in defence of justice and liberty” and “in honour of Kingston’s sailors, soldiers, airmen and nursing sisters who served overseas.”

Twelve stained glass windows line the two long walls of the room. Each window marks a battle in which Canadians played a significant role and a group that contributed to the war effort. They were made by the Robert McCausland Ltd of Toronto (which now claims to be the oldest stained glass company in the Western Hemisphere and the longest continuously-owned family company in Canada).

Today’s post features the east windows, to the right as you enter the hall. Quotations are from the program for the 1921 event. 

The Kingston crest is in the top curve of each window – its motto is pro rege, lege et grege (for King, the law and the people). The Ontario crest and the composite crests of Canadian provinces alternate on the windows under the main figures.

Ypres, April 1915 – a soldier stands in front of barbed wire and a cannon. He raises his cap on his rifle, holding a flag in his other hand. 

The cartoon from which this window was made is by Bernard Partridge and appeared in “Punch” shortly after the second battle of Ypres. It was at the Battle of Ypres when the Germans for the first time used their deadly gases, and the Canadians by their unparalled courage barred the way to Calais, and brought great honour not only to Canada but to the British Empire.

St. Eloi, April 1916 – a miner with explosives, shells, pick and shovel.

The subject of this window is the work of Colonel Nissen, a graduate of Queen’s University, who was requested by the Mining and Metallurgical Society of London, England, to submit for their consideration a clay model from which a bronze was to be cast in memory of the members of that Society who made the supreme sacrifice. Col. Nissen originated the Nissen Hut.

Amiens, August 1918 – a cavalry soldier on horseback.

This window was developed from photographs taken at the Riding Establishment of the Royal Military College, and is correct in every detail. It was at the Battle of Amiens, August 1918, when the Canadians, on the first day of the battle, advanced 14,000 yards in one day, the deepest penetration made in one day during the period of the war.

Somme, 1916 – munitions workers … a man and a woman with shells. The caption, “Once more it has been shown that not arms or walls defend cities and empires but only the spirit of the people,” is not attributed.

The subject is the work of McCausland Studios of Toronto, who furnished all the windows in the hall. It was at the Battle of the Somme, September 15, 1916, the tanks were first used in modern warfare. At one time 30,000 women were employed in munition factories. During the war Canada furnished munitions to the extent of $1,002,672,413.

Jutland, May 31, 1916 – a sailor with communications equipment standing on deck.

This window refers to the heroism of the British midshipman. At the Battle of Jutland the gun crew on one of the cruisers had all been killed, and after the engagement Jack Cornwell was found at his post mortally wounded. When he was asked why he did not leave his reply was typical of the British seaman: “I thought I might be wanted.” He died from wounds shortly after the engagement. His Mother was presented with his Victoria Cross.

Sanctuary Wood, June 1916 – civilian women and children on the home front. The seated woman is knitting. The verse is by author, social reformer and Kingston resident, Agnes Maule Machar: “Long may our ‘Greater Britain’ stand / The bulwark of the Free; / But Canada, our own dear land / Our first love is for Thee”

This window, like the Somme window, is the work of the McCausland Studios and is in memory of the wives who gave their husbands, and the mothers who gave their sons. During the war over 110,000 families drew separation allowance, and 60,000 families were on the Patriotic Fund.

Tune in next Monday for the west wall windows. More book reviews coming soon, too.

Thanks again to Vicki and Linda, fellow explorers in Kingston.


Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

One thought on “Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Windows, City Hall, Kingston, ON … Part 1

  1. Pingback: Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Windows, City Hall, Kingston, ON … Part 2 | Great War 100 Reads

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