Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Remember Flanders, John McCrae, Guelph, ON

 

John McCrae wrote In Flanders Field in May 1915, inspired by the death of his friend Alexis Helmer. The poem was first published in December 1915. Since then, the poem and its symbolic poppies have become iconic remembrances of sacrifice in war. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Screen, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Each day, hundreds of people walk past the Memorial Screen in an arcade west of the Soldiers’ Tower on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus. Those pausing to look see the names, ranks and units of 628 university alumni, faculty, staff and students killed in WW1 – carved in limestone. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Ottawa

Lisgar Collegiate Institute has a history in Ottawa longer than Canada itself: founded in 1843, it just celebrated its 175th anniversary. Students entering the main doors of the school at 29 Lisgar St cannot help but turn their minds to WW1. In Memorial Hall they are surrounded by reminders of alumni and alumnae who served in the war. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – John McCrae House, Guelph, ON

Yesterday, 28 January 2018, was the 100th anniversary of John McCrae’s death. Best known for his poem, In Flanders Fields, McCrae was a physician and a soldier.

McCrae was born and raised in a limestone cottage at 108 Water St in Guelph. The home has been restored as the McCrae House museum. A monument in the garden is dedicated to his memory. Ontario Heritage plaques mark McCrae’s birthplace and final resting place. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Lt Col George Harold Baker, MP and Morning Glory

While at least 50 members of the Canadian House of Commons enlisted in WW1, few saw active duty at the front. Only one was killed in action.

George Harold Baker – Harry to his friends – was born into a prominent family of United Empire Loyalists. He followed his father into law and then into politics, elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Brome, Quebec in 1911. He was also active in the local militia, so he was quick to volunteer for active service in WW1. He was killed in action on June 2, 1916 at Sanctuary Wood during the Battle of Mount Sorrel. Continue reading


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The War Diary of Clare Gass

A fine day in spots only. My ward is filled & I am very busy but enjoy my work if it were only possible to forget its cause. (March 2, 1916, p 106)

The dominant memory of WW1 is that of men. Soldiers were, after all, the vast majority on the front lines. But as Susan Mann points out in her introduction to The War Diary of Clare Gass, 1915-1918, wounded soldiers were accompanied and cared for by nurses at every stage of their journey through the military medical system except at the very first points closest to the front lines. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – War Memorial and Memorial Wall, Guelph, ON

Symbolism and remembrance stand side by side in a park at Trafalgar Square, where Woolwich St meets Wyndham St N and Eramosa Rd in Guelph. The former in a monument designed by sculptor Alfred Howell. The latter on a wall of plaques naming those who died.

The program for the dedication of the monument on Sunday 3 July 1927 describes “a magnificent and dignified tribute in honored memory of her sons and daughters who paid the supreme sacrifice in the Great War for Civilization.” Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cenotaph and Veterans Memorial, Orangeville, ON

Two stone war memorials stand in Orangeville’s Alexandra Park, 11 Second St at First Ave, behind the town hall.

The cenotaph honours Dufferin County residents who died in WW1. (WW2, Korea and Afghanistan have since been added.) It was unveiled in November 1923, “in proud and grateful memory of those who gave their lives for freedom, truth and righteousness.” Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Clinton War Memorial, DeWitt Clinton Park, New York

At the southeast corner of De Witt Clinton Park, at 11th Ave and 52nd St in New York City, stands a bronze doughboy holding poppies in his right hand and a rifle slung over his shoulder. The front of the granite pedestal is inscribed with the closing verse from John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Field.

The statue is dedicated “by comrades and friends under the auspices of Clinton District Monument Association as a memorial to the young folk of this neighborhood who gave their all in the world war.” According to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, this is one of nine doughboy statues erected in NYC city parks. Continue reading