The 10th Battalion, created in 1914 as an infantry battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was amongst the first Canadian contingents to sail for the UK in 1914. Recruits were largely from Calgary and other parts of Alberta. Continue reading
The end of WW1 saw a proliferation of veterans groups and regimental associations working to help returned soldiers in Canada. Their fragmented efforts did not lead to great success. Several groups came together to form the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League in 1926. This history is evident on the facade of the Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch at 116 – 7 Avenue SE. Continue reading
Calgary’s cenotaph stands in Central Memorial Park, facing 4 St SW, between 12 Ave SW and 13 Ave SW. Continue reading
A comment on last Monday’s memorial to the Broad brothers at Calgary’s Central United Church got me thinking about how communities came together to show respect to those who had served in the war.
It seems that it was many years after the war before plaques were erected. In this case, 1923. Is there any explanation of the delay between the end of the war in 1918 and these expressions of remembrance? Did people, at first, feel their grief so profoundly that they could not think of things like plaques and statues? Was commemoration encouraged by the government or Church in the 1920s and we are seeing the results of that?
Good question. Several reasons, I suspect. Continue reading
A memorial service at Central Methodist Church on 1 July 1923 honoured three brothers killed in WW1. William, Thomas and Percy were sons of William Tucker Broad and Caroline G. Broad. The plaque remains in the sanctuary of what is now Central United Church.
All three are buried in France. Continue reading
The First World War Memorial faces 2nd St SW, between 12 Ave SW and 13 Ave SW, at the east end of Calgary’s Central Memorial Park – not to be confused with the cenotaph at the west end of the park. The monument was sponsored by the Col MacLeod Branch of the IODE at a cost of $5500. It was dedicated in June 1924 “to the imperishable glory of the men of this province (Alberta) who fought and died for their King and Country in the Great War.”
Originally called the Victory Statue, the monument is comprised of a bronze statue of an infantry soldier by Montreal sculptor Coeur de Lion MacCarthy mounted on a pedestal of Bedford stone. An article in the 21 June 1924 Calgary Daily Herald describes the statue as “a young Canadian soldier exultant over news of the signing of the Armistice. With uplifted rifle he stands, bareheaded, the attitude denoting victory and exaltation.”
Canadian war memorials that celebrate victory are not the norm. Most pay tribute to sacrifice, suffering, honour and grief.
As an aside, the Woman’s Community Interests page in the Calgary Daily Herald linked above also previews the upcoming cat fashion show (precursor of today’s pervasive cute cat videos?) and advertises “if every man had to do the washing every home would have a Maytag.”
Poppy Plaza is part of a linear park where Memorial Drive and 10 St NW meet the Louise Bridge over the Bow River in Calgary. Dedicated in 2013, it forms part of the redevelopment of Memorial Drive into a landscape of memory. At the centre of a large wooden plaza on the upper level is a characteristic poplar tree planted along Memorial Drive in the 1920s to commemorate each soldier from Southern Alberta who died in WW1. Weathering steel walls flank the bridge and the two staircases leading down to the pedestrian and bike path along the Bow River. Quotations about different perspectives of war are cut into the steel walls.
Hard to get a good photo of the overall space. This gallery shows some of the separate elements.
After WW1, the City of Calgary renamed Sunnyside Blvd as Memorial Drive. From 1922 to 1928, 3278 trees were planted along Memorial Drive – one for each soldier from Southern Alberta who died in the war. The living memorial was designed to bring solace to grieving families who did not have graves to visit.
Most of the trees were poplars. Some were removed from Memorial Drive over the years, due to disease, road widening, or just old age. (The lifespan of poplars is about 100 years.) The City of Calgary started to clone the trees to replace the originals. The area has been revitalized into a “landscape of memory.” The linear park between the road and the Bow River is a popular route for pedestrians and cyclists.
More about the newer additions to Memorial Drive in later posts.