Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


Monday Monuments and Memorials – Soldiers’ Monument, Paisley, ON

The soldiers’ monument in Paisley, Ontario stands in a square bound by Queen, Goldie and Water Streets, close to the confluence of the Saugeen and Teeswater Rivers. The monument, made of grey Stanstead granite, is a 15 ft pedestal on which stands a 7 ft soldier. The same figure from the McIntosh Granite Co is on the cenotaph in Picton, Ontario.

The monument was dedicated in May 1922, “in honored memory of the men of Paisley and adjoining Townships of Bruce, Elderslie, Greenock and Saugeen who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914 – 1919.” The 27 May edition of the Globe reported about 2000 people in attendance: Continue reading


Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Bank of Commerce, Toronto

The 34-storey headquarters of the Canadian Bank of Commerce (now known as Commerce Court North) was the tallest building in the Commonwealth from 1931 to 1962. Built at a time when banks were temples, this art deco temple incorporates a memorial to bank staff killed in WW1. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto

A glorious memorial to Ontario lawyers and law students killed in WW1 stands on the east wall of the Great Library in Osgoode Hall, on Queen St W at the corner of University Ave in Toronto. Frances Loring designed the figure, which stands before a marble tablet of names. It was dedicated by Lt Governor Ross on 10 November 1928.

Christine Boyanoski describes the statue as an allegorical figure of “a young man casting off the robes of daily life in the service of humanity.” (Loring and Wyle: Sculptors’ Legacy, p 35) The inscription “These laid the world away” is a line from Rupert Brooke’s The Dead.

Every profession contributed to the war effort. Lawyers were no exception. The Law Society of Upper Canada, the governing body for lawyers in Ontario, encouraged lawyers and law students to enlist. Of about 300 lawyers and over 200 students who served, 113 did not return. There were likely fewer than 2000 lawyers and students in Ontario at the time.

In November 2014, the law society marked the WW1 centenary by granting the 59 fallen law students an honorary call to the bar. My only regret in being out of the country then was that I could not attend the event.

The law society’s virtual museum tells more about the war memorial: These Laid the World Away: The World War I Memorial at Osgoode Hall. The Honour Roll profiles the lawyers and law students whose names are on the memorial. You can read more about each student in Patrick Shea’s book on The Great War Law Student Memorial Project (now offline, but he promises an expanded version soon). He also gives a good outline of Canada’s military contribution to the war.

(Don’t look for women here. Although Ontario was the first jurisdiction in the Commonwealth to admit a woman to the bar, in 1897, there were only five women lawyers in Ontario before WW1. Another six were called to the bar during the war. Many more by the time I became a lawyer.)

This year’s regrets: I was unable to accept an invitation to the Lt Governor’s reception to mark the 100th anniversary of the Soldiers’ Aid Commission of Ontario and could not attend Artists Remember for Peace in Kingston, including parts of The World Remembers project.