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Our War Memorials

Just in time for Armistice Day last November , the war memorial on the north side of Queen Square was put together again and the green men cleaned up and looking magnificent were back where they belonged. The details of the sculpture now show up like never before in our life time.

We should be very proud to have such a magnificent piece of public art in our city square. It was designed by an important Canadian sculptor, George William Hill. For instance in Ottawa, G.W. Hill did the Thomas D'Arcy McGee and the George Brown monuments. Our monument was unveiled on July16, 1925.

Discussions about the Soldiers' Memorial took a long time. They started of thinking about a building; a home for veterans, a library etc. They even gave a lot of thought to it being a wing to the north of Province House going back as far as Grafton Street. Plans had been prepared by Mr. Chappelle. Then our friend R. T. Holman of Summerside suggested a highway to be called Victory Highway! There was talk of a grand arch. There were other suggested designs for monuments some quite grandiose. The debate continued for over four years.

Wisdom prevailed and we didn't get the arch or the gross wing to Province House, but we did get G. W. Hill with 20 tons of Stanstead [sic] granite from Quebec and soldiers casted in bronze in Brussels. It seems to have cost $16,000 dollars; less than it cost to repair the stone and clean the bronze last year.

Now we must address the Boer War Monument on the south east side of Province House. It is a fine monument, too and it needs cleaning. The sculptor for it is prominent as well. Hamilton McCarthy, a British sculptor who had settled in Canada was one of the two artists for The Alexander MacKenzie monument on Parliament Hill, and he himself did the South African War Monument in Ottawa and that wonderful piece on top of the hill, near the Art Gallery, of Samuel de Champlain.

Although our piece of sculpture was not as grand as we had hoped for its pretty nice. On that July day in 1903 when it was unveiled what was lost in stature [so to speak] was made up for by the numbers that attended and "by the order, precision and dignity " of the event.

Today discussions go on as to whether the Peace Keepers and The Merchant Marines could be included on our war memorial or must they build a new one for them.. Hopefully wisdom will prevail once more and those brave souls will be honoured on the existing monument. Let us hope soon we can build to celebrate peace and life and have no more War Memorials. It doesn't look good these days though.

Written Friday, April 12, 2002 at 08:44 AM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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