Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Charles Russell Smiley, Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, ON

Each soldier tells a story.

Vernon Sharpe Smiley, Charles Russell Smiley and Thomas Gordon Smiley were born in the 1890s in Waterdown, Ontario, the three sons of Charles Arthur Smiley and Amy Sharpe Smiley.

Most records indicate that Russell was born on 22 September 1894. Some say 1895. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Westinghouse Company employees, Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, ON

Today is Labour Day in Canada and the US – a day to celebrate workers. Like other groups in society, many companies saw fit to memorialize their employees who had served in the war.

For much of the 20th century, Westinghouse was one of the largest employers in Hamilton. Its plaque “to the memory of the employees of the Canadian Westinghouse Company Limited, who gave their lives in the war against Germany and her allies” is in a shady corner of Hamilton Cemetery. Sixty-five names are listed. The tablet “further commemorates the services of 712 other employees of the company, their comrades-in-arms, who fought for King and country.” Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Mothers, Wives and Children, Hamilton, ON

They also serve who only stand and wait.

At Decoration Day services in August 1923, two memorial crosses were unveiled in Hamilton Cemetery. Twenty thousand Hamiltonians, including 8,000 war veterans, attended the ceremonies.

The Cross of Sacrifice erected by the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission honours the war dead. The second cross was funded by the Canadian Patriotic Fund “in memory of mothers, wives and children of soldiers of the Great War,” 214 who died while their loved ones were fighting overseas. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, ON

Hamilton Cemetery is a lovely park cemetery, the first owned and operated by a municipality in Canada. Its meandering paths are a great place for a stroll amongst the city’s history. Of its 21500 monuments, about 130 are from the Commonwealth (formerly Imperial) War Graves Commission to mark the graves of those who served in WW1. Most died of illnesses during or right after the war … listed as influenza, phthisis, diphtheria, pneumonia or just sickness.

About 2000 Hamiltonians died in service in WW1, about 2% of the population at the time.

The Cross of Sacrifice was unveiled at a Decoration Day service on 23 August 1923. Twenty thousand Hamiltonians, including 8000 war veterans, attended the ceremony.

Thanks to Robin McKee of Historical Perceptions, who shared some useful information about the cemetery. I wish my visit to Hamilton had coincided with one of his weekly Stories in the Stones tours. Thanks as well to the friendly staff in the cemetery gatehouse.