Thursday, 18 August 2016

Canadian War Memorials in London

Canadian War Memorials in London are like the ethos of many Canadians, very unassuming. (Well, perhaps there is one exception.) This is a brief overview of some of the war memorials attributed to Canada and Canadians. Perhaps you may know of others?

Canada Gate which graces Green Park opposite Buckingham Palace is a beauty. The lovely gilded gates, on which provincial emblems face Queen Victoria's statue, provides an impressive entrance to the park. The tourists love this photo opportunity, taking pictures of friends and family posing in front of the gate and then moving on, not having an inkling to what the gates represent. This brilliant memorial was presented to London in 1901, as a memorial to Queen Victoria. (Yes, does not really fit with the War Memorial theme of this article, but it is a Canadian memorial.)

Canada Gate © Penny Allen
Walk through the gates to a Canadian Memorial to the Second World War, simply called the Canada Memorial.  The memorial comprises of two granite blocks with many Canadian Maple Leaves etched into the stone. It has a waterfall feature and each piece is an inverted triangle shape. In between the two is a narrow path whose direction faces Halifax, the port where many WW2 soldiers left for the continent. This memorial was built in 1992, restorations began in 2004, and eventually was fully restored in 2011. The care and maintenance of the memorial falls under the responsibility of the Canadian Government. It is a beautiful and calming reflection of a chaotic time.

The first Canadian Wives’ Bureau offices were on Regent Street (situated in the Maple Leaf Club) in central London and it was here the war brides applied to emigrate to Canada. The Canadian War Brides page on Veterans' Affairs Government of Canada site gives additional information. This post I wrote gives some information about the brides of Canadian soldiers in the Second World War. British WWII Brides

At Regents Zoo, there's a lovely statue to commemorate Winnie the bear who was a pet of WW1 soldier Lieutenant Harry Coleburn (he lived in Winnipeg after the war) and also inspiration for A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh bear. Winnie was given to this London Zoo as Coleburn went to the front in 1914. At the end of the war, he decided to leave her with the people of London as she had become very popular with its citizens. Statue presented by the People of Manitoba.

Animals in War Memorial - Hyde Park - this memorial is to all animals who served in many wars, including both the World Wars. There was only one specific mention to a Canadian animal, 'Sergeant Gander' the Newfoundland Dog who served during WW2. This mention was left by a visitor (I'm assuming) and is a print out placed into a photo frame. It has been adorned with the Canadian flag. He was awarded the  Dickin Medal posthumously and there is an article on CBC's website about the memorial built in Newfoundland in July 2015 to honour Gander. Philip Doddridge, a soldier who fought with 'Sergeant Gander' attended.

Canada House © Penny Allen
Canada House located in Trafalgar Square, although built during 1824 and 1827 was bought in 1923 by the Government of Canada but not in use until 1925. During the Second World War, the building next door known as 2-4 Cockspur Street was used by the Canadian Army for their European Headquarters. This building has now been amalgamated into Canada House. Source : Wikipedia

'Canadian Few' RCAF Squadron airmen led by Captain McNab of Saskatchewan are mentioned on the Battle of Britain memorial on the Embankment close to Westminster. (Source: London Eh to Zed: 101 Discoveries for Canadian Visitors to London by Christopher Walters 978-1459729865).  Website London Eh to Zed

Upon visiting these memorials, one feels a deep sense of pride in Canada's contribution to the war effort. These are a few of the monuments that represent her soldiers sacrifices.  

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