Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cénotaphe (Monument aux braves), Montreal

To the glory of God and the memory of the immortal dead who brought us honour and peace.

À la gloire du Dieu au souvenir des morts immortels à qui nous devons l’honneur et la paix.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Monument aux morts français de Montréal et aux volontaires canadiens de l’armée française, Montreal

Montreal’s La Fontaine Park is the site of a monument to French soldiers from Montreal and Canadian volunteers in the French Army who died in WW1 (and later in WW2). Place du Souvenir-français is a quiet area of the park between Émile-Duployé and Papineau Avenues, on the north side of Sherbrooke Street East. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Window, McGill University, Montreal

A stained glass window in the Redpath Library at McGill University is “in memory of 23 members of the McGill chapter of Delta Upsilon who gave their lives in the Great War.” Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Sailors’ Memorial Clock Tower, Montreal

The Sailors’ Memorial Clock Tower marks the entrance to the Montreal Harbour at Quai de l’Horloge (formerly Victoria Pier) in the Vieux Port. It stands as a memorial to Canadian sailors who served in WW1.

The cornerstone was dedicated by the Prince of Wales on 31 October 1919. The 45 metre tower was completed in 1921. Montréal-based engineer Paul Leclaire’s design cleverly hid unsightly sheds along the quay. The clock mechanism manufactured by Gillett and Johnston in Croydon, England is similar to that of Big Ben in London. Sailors can rely on the clock’s accuracy to set their own watches.

Now locals can soak in the summer sun on the urban beach along Quai de l’Horlage. (Sunbathers had long abandoned the sand and blue umbrellas when I visited in November.) Ambitious folks can climb 192 stairs in season to take in a panoramic view of the city and the harbour.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

Vera Brittain: from Perhaps (To R.A.L.)


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Angel of Victory, Windsor Station, Montreal

Many communities, be they municipalities, clubs, professions or companies, saw fit to commemorate members of the community who served or died in WW1. The Canadian Pacific Railway was one such company. The Angel of Victory by Montreal sculptor Coeur de Lion MacCarthy commemorates 1,115 CPR employees killed during the war. Three castings of the bronze statue were forged at the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company. They were dedicated from 1921 to 1923, at the CPR stations in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. The angel lifts the soldier to heaven at the moment of his death.

The Montreal cast is the best preserved of the three, having always been indoors. It graces the Salle des pas perdus in the old Windsor Station at 1100 avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal.

The dedication ends: “Let those who come after see to it that their names not be forgotten.” The CPR site recounts the company’s role during the war, but not the names of the 1,115 dead.


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal

Canadian football fans (of which I am not one) are gearing up for the Grey Cup this week. Great War 100 Reads marks the occasion with a stadium named for a WW1 hero. Molson Stadium (Stade Molson) on the McGill University campus in Montreal is home of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League as well as McGill teams. The Grey Cup game was played at the stadium in 1931.

According to the McGill University website:

Percival Molson is considered one of the great athletes in McGill’s history; he also left a legacy that built one of the landmarks of McGill’s downtown campus.

His sporting career was well underway by age 16: he played on the 1896 Stanley Cup championship Montreal Victorias. At McGill, he captained the hockey team in 1902-03, starred in track, racquet sports and football and won the Individual Trophy as the school’s best “all-round athlete” for three consecutive years, a feat unmatched in McGill sports history. He set a world record in the long jump at the American Athletics Meet in 1900.

He was renowned for his sportsmanship, and earned the unique distinction of never having been penalized in any sport for unfair tactics. After graduation, Molson became the youngest member to serve on the McGill Board of Governors, chairing its Finance and Stadium committees.

When the war started, Molson enlisted. He was wounded in the Battle of Sanctuary Wood on June 2, 1916, for which he received the Military Cross for gallantry and distinguished conduct in action. He came home to recover, but returned to France in 1917. He was killed in action on July 5, 1917.

His will left $75,000 toward the construction of a stadium at McGill. The stadium, first used in 1915, was named for him 1919.