Early in my days of researching monuments for Great War 100 Reads, I discovered Alan Livingstone MacLeod’s albums on Flickr. Beautiful photos documenting WW1 monuments across Canada, and a good source in trying to sort out Emanuel Hahn’s work from the imitations. So I am delighted to find that he has written a book featuring his photos, Remembered in Bronze and Stone, published in November 2016.
The book does not claim to be an exhaustive catalog. MacLeod favours monuments that feature a statue of a soldier. The epitome of these include the names of those killed and some information of their life and death. “A war memorial’s core obligation is to evoke those who were lost with sufficient authenticity and conviction that we are moved to remember and honour them.” (p 18)
The monuments are organized by origin: the marbles by anonymous Italian carvers; the commissions by American or British sculptors; and the sculptures designed in Canada by Canadians.
MacLeod’s travelogue takes us across the country and back. He tells a bit about the communities in which the monuments stand and brings to life some of the folks named on the monuments. Through these lens, we get a glimpse of the area and its people then and now.
Almost half the book is dedicated to monuments by Canadian sculptors. MacLeod traces their work through the dominant monument companies of the day: WM Rogers, the foundry that morphed into FG Tickell and Sons; McIntosh Granite Co; and Thomson Monument Co. The works of Adamson, Allward, Hahn, Hill, Howell, MacCarthy, and Pirotton have been featured here. (I now have a mission to track down Hébert, Norbury and others.)
MacLeod also details the state of repair of the monuments – or lack thereof. The hard granite fares better than the soft marble. In my travels, I often find evidence of recent refurbishments – due in part, no doubt, to a government program that funded repairs in time for the WW1 centenary. Some of MacLeod’s travels predated that program. I wonder how many of those communities took advantage of tax dollars and the renewed interest in commemorating WW1 to extend the life of their memorials.
Where are Frances Loring and Florence Wyle? Surely their war memorials rank amongst those of “well-established, esteemed Canadian sculptors and artists.” Loring’s monument at Osgoode Hall for the Law Society of Upper Canada and Wyle’s dedicated to Edith Cavell and Canadian nurses are obvious lacunae in this mix.
So, too, is R. Tait McKenzie missing. The Volunteer in Almonte certainly belongs.
Some blips on the maps on pp 24-25 could be easily fixed. Georgetown and Golden are missing, for example, and Walkerton is listed as Waterton.
All in all, Remembered in Bronze and Stone is a good addition to the record of monuments in Canada. MacLeod’s stories enliven his posted photos, and contribute to his wish that the sacrifice of those killed is still honoured past living memory.
Read my interview with Alan Livingstone MacLeod.
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