Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Lennox and Addington County Cenotaph, Napanee, ON

A cenotaph “erected to perpetuate the memory of those from the County of Lennox and Addington who fell in the Great War” stands in front of the courthouse portico at 97 Thomas St E at Adelphi. It was unveiled on 1 Jul 1920. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Honour Roll of Veterans, Portland, Rideau Lakes Township, ON

A war memorial in Portland-on-the-Rideau overlooks Hwy 15 at Colborne Street, in front of Emmanuel Anglican Church. The Honour Roll lists WW1 and WW2 veterans from the community. A cross marks those killed in action – 7 of 53 men in WW1. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Calgary Soldiers’ Memorial, Calgary, AB

The Calgary Soldiers’ Memorial stands in the park that runs between Memorial Drive and the Bow River, east of Poppy Plaza between 10 St NW and 14 St NW. It forms part of the Landscape of Memory park project along Memorial Drive. Continue reading


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My Little Wet Home in the Trench

Yup, it’s three years into the WW1 centenary and three years since the start of Great War 100 Years. In 244 posts, I have documented 68 books read, over 150 monuments each Monday, and more interviews and musings.

My focus for much of this year has been eyewitness accounts of the war – a range of voices from the front lines, the home front and points in between. Male and female authors, they wrote about universal aspects of the soldiers’ experience, the readiness to serve where needed, and the price of acceptance and of dissent.

The books analysing the war from the rear view window show how perspectives can change over time. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Orillia, ON

Orillia, Ontario was one of the towns that chose a practical tribute for WW1. Concerned with the number of soldiers returning from the war with severe health problems, the publisher of the local newspaper suggested building a hospital. Doctors in town agreed to provide free medical care to war veterans. About one-third of the $100,000 cost was borne by the town and surrounding township, with the rest raised by the citizens. The Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital opened in 1922 (and the original hospital became a maternity wing). It still serves the community today. Continue reading


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Canada’s Dream Shall Be of Them

Is your creativity enriched or curtailed by Twitter’s 140-character limit? Imagine the challenge to families of those killed in WW1, asked to keep an epitaph for their loved one to 66 characters.

The Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission decided not to repatriate hundreds of thousands bodies. Rather, the dead were buried with their comrades close to where they fell. A standard stone marks each grave, regardless of rank. But next of kin were invited to add a personal inscription. About half took up the offer. Together, these epitaphs form a striking record of grief and memory. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – War Memorial, Durham, ON

Veterans Memorial Park, corner of Mill and Albert Streets, Durham. A bronze statue of a soldier stands atop a red granite monument, “in memory of the men of Durham and vicinity who gave their lives for humanity in the Great War.” They are named on the front and right sides – 36 in all. Ranks other than private are indicated. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – War Memorial, Smiths Falls, ON

The war memorial in Smiths Falls War Memorial stands in Veterans Memorial Park on Beckwith St S at Confederation Dr (Canal St on some maps), next to the Rideau River lock station. The grey granite, rough-cut at the bottom, rises into a cross. Torches are carved into the foreshortened crossbar. On the front, a bronze rifle at reverse arms is draped with maple leaves. A peace dove with laurel swoops down above it. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Western Canada College Cenotaph, Calgary, AB

This monument commemorates those boys of Western Canada College who, at the dawn of their manhood, died for their country in the Great War.

Western Canada College (now Western Canada High School, and always a secondary school despite its original name) lives on 17th Ave SW at 6th St SW in Calgary. WCC was a founded in 1903 as a British-style private school for boys. After WW1, it was sold to the Calgary Board of Education. While the original WCC buildings were replaced in later decades, the cenotaph remains to commemorate students and graduates who were killed in WW1. Continue reading


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Firing Lines

Beatrice Nasmyth. Mary MacLeod Moore. Elizabeth Montizambert. Three names we likely don’t recognize today. But during WW1, countless Canadian, British and French readers read their war dispatches from London, Paris and points closer to the front. Debbie Marshall brings them back to life in Firing Lines: Three Canadian Women Write the First World War.

We met the three journalists briefly in Marshall’s last book (Give Your Other Vote to the Sister), when they joined Roberta MacAdams on a media tour of the military hospitals at Étaples and the lines of communication behind the front. In Firing Lines, we dig deeper into their backgrounds and how they came to report on the conflict. Continue reading