Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cenotaph, Grand Valley, ON

At the corner of Main St N (County Road 25) and Amaranth St, the centre of the village in Grand Valley, a cenotaph is dedicated “in honoured memory of the men of Grand Valley and East Luther, Amaranth and East Garafraxa Townships who died in the Great War.” It was erected in 1920, and rededicated in 1949 with the addition of side blocks for those killed in WW2. It was spared when a tornado hit the area in May 1985. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial, Kingston, ON

City Park, a large park just west of downtown Kingston, is home to many monuments that mark the city’s military connections. One park memorial, on Stuart St near Barrie St, is dedicated “to the glory of God and in loving memory of all who gave their lives and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and Commonwealth Air Forces.”

It was erected by the 416 Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association. City records indicate that it dates from around 1967. The epitaph – “they have slipped the surly bonds of earth” – is the first line of High Flight, a poem by American WW2 pilot John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Air combat was a new technology in WW1. Pilots could count their life expectancy in minutes, days or weeks. Half were killed in training.

Near the RCAF memorial, two oak trees are dedicated to “Grieving the tragedy of war, committed to the promise of peace.” One peace tree is about 100 years old. The other was planted on 21 September 2013, the UN International Day of Peace. A visit in any season but winter would show the peace trees to greater advantage.

PeaceQuest has recently published a WW1 walking tour of Kingston. You can find the podcast and map here.


Thanks to Vicki, host, driver, guide and chief snow clearer on the Kingston tour.

Welcome to more new followers who have joined this journey. I look forward to your comments.


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Prescott Cenotaph and aviator William FN Sharpe

Fort Wellington looks out over the St Lawrence River in Prescott, Ontario, a reminder of the lines of defence built during the War of 1812. In the park that now surrounds the fort, at the corner of Vankoughnet St and King Street East (Highway 2), a cenotaph stands to those from Prescott killed in WW1 and WW2. The cenotaph was moved here from its original location on Dibble St in 2001.

Another WW1 marker, at the corner of Water St W and Edward St S, honours William FN Sharpe. Sharpe has the distinction of being one of Canada’s first WW1 pilots and its first air casualty of the war. He died in a flying accident on February 4, 1915. Continue reading


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Goodbye to All That

I’m alternating my reading of the Regeneration trilogy with books by some of Pat Barker’s real-life protagonists. Robert Graves shows up in Regeneration, getting Siegfried Sassoon before a medical board and then to Craiglockhart War Hospital after Sassoon published his declaration against the war. Both were officers in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Goodbye to All That is Graves’ account of events – his childhood and prep school days, his war experiences, his early career and first marriage in the few years afterwards. Well … one version of his account of events. First published in 1929, Graves made extensive revisions for the 1957 re-publication. And yes, memories can change with circumstances. More about that later. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Knox United Church, Calgary

Several elements in Knox Presbyterian (now United) Church honour congregants who served in WW1. The usual honour roll plaques listing those who died and those who enlisted are there. But it is a colourful stained glass memorial window that dominates the sanctuary. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Park, Belleville, ON

An array of monuments present themselves in Belleville’s Memorial Park, at 130 Station St. (The triangular park is also bounded by Reid St and Cannifton Rd.) Together they honour the soldiers from Belleville and Thurlow in WW1, WW2, the Korean War, the Merchant Navy, Peacekeeping, the Canadian Forces and Afghanistan. Continue reading


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The Eye in the Door

Every day in this hospital one was brutally reminded that the worst tragedies of the war were not marked by little white crosses. (p 150)

Continuing to work my way through Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy of WW1 novels – they’ve been sitting in my reading pile for years, but always with other books on top of them. They are living up to the anticipation.

The Eye in the Door is the second in the series, looking at the work of psychiatrist and anthropologist Dr William Rivers. Where Regeneration viewed the war from the safety of Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, The Eye in the Door takes us to London and beyond. Where several characters in Regeneration were actual people, the central character in The Eye in the Door is Billy Prior, whom we met as one of the few fictional folks in Regeneration. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Edric Hurdman Read memorial window, allsaints, Ottawa

Each soldier tells a story.

All Saints Anglican Church, on Chapel St at the corner of Laurier Ave E, was once the place of worship for many of Ottawa’s elite. Prime Minister Borden was a parishioner – his state funeral was there in 1937. The church was recently deconsecrated and converted into a unique event venue. The stained glass windows and other WW1 memorials remain in the former sanctuary.

One window is dedicated “in ever loving memory of our son, Flight Lieut Edric H Read, 16th Squadron RFC, killed in action December 26, 1917, aged 20 years.” Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Great War Veterans Association monument, Acton, ON

A monument “in loving memory of our fallen comrades” in Acton’s Fairview Cemetery has seen better days.

According to the Acton Legion history, monument dealer John Nicol donated the original Soldiers’ Memorial in May 1920. It was placed by the Great War Veterans Association in front of the Acton Soldiers Memorial Home at 55 Mill St E (now the MacKinnon Family Funeral Home). Six months later, the community cenotaph was dedicated across the street. In 1923, the GWVA monument was moved to the GWVA plot in Section R of Fairview Cemetery. Continue reading