Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cenotaph and Lt Walter T Robus Memorial Park, Norwood ON

The village of Norwood, on Highway 7 east of Peterborough, honoured those who died in WW1 with the usual cenotaph, unveiled on 6 July 1924. It stands at the head of Colborne St, where it meets Ridge St.

The granite stele is topped by a lantern held by a maple leaf in each corner and a sword on each side. On the front: “Through sacrifice they gave their today for our tomorrow – our honoured dead … perpetuating their memory and in honour of all those who carried on in the Great Wars from the Village of Norwood.” Eight names from WW2 were added afterwards (as I suspect was the S on Wars, as that line is not centred like the others). On the back, the years of WW1. On the base, eight WW1 battles: Ypres, St Eloi, The Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens, Cambrai, Mons.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Harold Heber Owen, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver

Harold Heber Owen memorial window, Christ Church, Vancouver

Every soldier tells a story. Harold Heber Owen was born in Toronto on 2 July 1893, the only son of Rev Cecil Owen and Alice Grundy Owen. They had four daughters, Winnifred, Margaret, Alice and Beatrice. The Rev Owen moved the family to Vancouver when he became rector of Christ Church. Harold attended Vancouver College and then Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. He studied medicine and was preparing to be a medical missionary.

At the outset of WW1, father and son enlisted. Rev Owen was chaplain to the British Columbia regiment of the CEF. Harold served in Flanders first with the 7th Battalion, then the 3rd Staff Ambulance, then again with the 7th Battalion as a lieutenant. He survived the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. A few days later he wrote to his mother: “I have lost nearly every personal friend within the contingent.” He was killed around midnight on 30/31 January 1916 at age 22.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cenotaph, Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery, Chelsea QC

The Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery is at 587 Route 105, about 900 metres north of Chemin Old Chelsea in the Municipality of Chelsea. Starting as a family burial ground in the 1830s, it fell into disuse in the 1920s. The Gatineau Valley Historical Society (then the Historical Society of the Gatineau) purchased the land in 1965. The Society dedicated a cenotaph in the cemetery in 1968. In 2010, brass plaques were installed in English and French to commemorate residents who were killed in the South African War, WW1 and WW2. Ownership of the heritage cemetery was transferred to the municipality in 2019. 

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Citizens’ War Memorial, Peterborough, ON

Citizens of the Town and Township of Peterborough commissioned a war memorial in 1921. Sculptor Walter Seymour Allward won the commission, later assisted by Gilbert Bayes when Allward was occupied by his work on the Vimy Memorial. Central Park (now Confederation Park) was the chosen site, in part because it had been the gathering point from which many of the local soldiers left for war. The monument was dedicated by Sir Arthur Currie on 30 June 1929.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Postal Workers Memorial, Budapest, Hungary

A monument on the side of the Hungarian Postal Building, at Párizsi utca 8 in Budapest (8 Párizsi St, corner of Petőfi Sándor), is a tribute to about 600 Hungarian postal workers who died in WW1. A crowned Hungaria holds a fallen soldier in her arms.

Designed by sculptors Lajos Berán and Hugó Keviczky, the bronze relief was unveiled in 1927.

Pro Patria is above the relief. The tablet below reads:

A HAZA SZENT FÖLDJÉNEK
VÉDELMÉBEN
AZ 1914-1918 ÉVEKBEN
ELESETT KARTÁRSAK EMLÉKÉRE.
A MAGYAR POSTA SZEMÉLYZETE.

Translation: The sacred land of the homeland, in defence of the homeland, in the years 1914-1918, in memory of fallen comrades. Staff of the Hungarian Post.


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – VI Arrondissement, Paris, France

Le VIe arrdt à ses enfants morts pour la France

Translation: The 6th arrondissement, to its children who died for France

This simple obelisk, to residents of the 6th arrondissement who died in WW1, is in the lobby of the Mairie (town hall) at 78, rue Bonaparte, in Paris.

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

The memory of those who fell in the great war will be reverenced in Canada this year by the wearing of a red poppy on Armistice Day, according to plans now being formulated by the Dominion Command, Great War Veterans’ Association. The inauguration of this custom will, war veterans believe, accomplish three worthy objects: First, the custom of wearing a memorial poppy on Armistice Day; secondly, as the poppies will be sold for nominal sums, it will supply a means of providing relief funds for the unemployed this winter; and thirdly, as the poppies will be purchased from the French war orphans, it will go a long way toward the relief of distress in that country.

Canadian Press dispatch, 19 September 1921. Published in Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Journal, Saskatoon Daily Star, Toronto Globe, Victoria Daily Times and others.
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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Dancy Cant and Helena MacLaughlin, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa ON

This October, in honour of Women’s History Month, I am visiting the graves of WW1 nursing sisters buried in the National Captial Region.

Sisters Dancy Florence and Helena Augustine MacLaughlin were born in Ottawa, daughters of Thomas MacLaughlin and Augustine Desrochers MacLaughlin. The sisters are both buried in the military section of Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Sadie St Germain, St James Cemetery, Gatineau QC

For the month of October, in honour of Women’s History Month, I am visiting WW1 Nursing Sisters buried in the National Capital Region.

Sadie St Germain was born on 21 July 1884 in Hull, Quebec, the seventh of eight children of Camille St Germain and Christine (McCallum) St Germain.

St Germain trained as a nurse in Newburgh, NY and worked there for some time before joining the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) on 10 August 1916. Six days later, she sailed to England. While posted there, bronchitis and neurasthenia took her out of commission for several weeks in early 1917. In September 1917, she transferred to No 1 Canadian General Hospital, Étaples. In December 1918, she was posted to No 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Le Treport. With the First Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, she was one of the few Canadian nurses to accompany the army of occupation into Germany in January 1919. She returned to Canada in May 1919. 

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Florence Leamy, Notre Dame Cemetery, Gatineau, QC

Nursing Sister Florence Lemay, Notre Dame Cemetery, Gatineau

For the month of October, in honour of Women’s History Month, I am visiting WW1 Nursing Sisters buried in the National Capital Region.

Florence Adelia Leamy was born on 20 February 1878 in Hull (now Gatineau), Quebec, the eldest daughter of Catherine and Walter Leamy. She was second of seven children.

Leamy trained in nursing at Ottawa General Hospital. She enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on 11 May 1915 in London, England. On 25 May, she was attached to a British hospital in Rouen. In August 1915, she was transferred to #1 Canadian General Hospital in Étaples. She survived influenza in December 1915 and tonsillitis in May 1916. She was mentioned in despatches on 25 Dec 1917 (London Gazette, no. 30448, p 13574).

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