2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The armistice of November 11, 1918, brought an end to the Great War, a devastating war that, for all Canadians, is etched into our history, from the national level to the local.
The human cost of the Great War was staggering, in millions of lives lost and millions of people displaced. 650,000+ Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the First World War, 170,000+ of them would be wounded, and 66,000 would be killed.
On a local level, Kamloops Memorial Hill Park has both a Cenotaph and Cairn, built to memorialize those who died during armed conflicts. The Memorial Hill Park Cairn was erected in 1922. It was a partnership between the students from Stuart Wood School, which, at the time, was called the Kamloops Public and High School, and the IODE, which is the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. The IODE was founded in 1899 in New Brunswick. The plaque on the Cairn reads “In memory of the boys of the Kamloops Public and High School who have lost their lives in the Great War 1914-1918. ‘They shall live forever more’ Erected by the St. Clair Stobart Chapter IODE.”
Just a year after the end of the First World War, the Ladies Auxiliary to the Great War Veterans’ Association (precursor the Canadian Legion) began to raise money for a memorial in Kamloops. There was originally a memorial clock that was proposed for Victoria Street and eventually, in 1925, the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Battle Street was chosen as the location, and a $5,000 contract was awarded to the Art Monument Company of Vancouver to create a Cenotaph to Kamloops’ fallen sons. Memorial Hill Park was designed by local architect W. H. MacAulay, who also designed the Second Sacred Heart Church.
The Kamloops Cenotaph was unveiled on May 24, 1925, after a parade led a large group of people towards the new monument. During that ceremony, 32 wreathes were placed by the Cenotaph by local officials and groups to honour the 189 names on the Cenotaph. The memorial was unveiled by Lieutenant-Colonel George Seabrook Thomas Pragnell, who was acting for Lieutenant-Colonel Vicars.
An additional 93 names were added to the Cenotaph just 22 years later, in 1947, after another devastating World War. The plaque was unveiled by Edmund Davie Fulton, Second World War veteran, politician and judge born in Kamloops, whose brother, John “Moose” Fulton’s body was never recovered after an airstrike.
To honour and commemorate the remarkable legacy of the Canadians who served overseas during the First World War, the Kamloops Museum & Archives and the Kamloops Chinese Cultural Association presented “The End of the Great War | Cenotaph Talk & Tour” on November 10, 2018, at Memorial Hill Park’s Kamloops Cenotaph and Cairn. Together, they talked about Remembrance Day and the Centenary of the First World War, our local Cenotaph and Cairn, and discovered the remarkable history of Frederick Lee, a Rocky Mountain Ranger who fought and died at the Battle of Hill 70, presented by Jack Gin, Chief Finder of the Finding Frederick Lee Project, tasked with finding the story of Frederick Lee, our Rocky Mountain Ranger.
The Kamloops Museum & Archives staff thank all who joined them on the occasion and also thank the City of Kamloops; the Kamloops Chinese Cultural Association; the Rocky Mountain Rangers; and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 52, Kamloops; for their assistance in research and support.
Click photo to enlarge:
Photo credit: Shawn Wenger