In doing the research into this subject I have turned to many individuals and resources, one of these being the Daily Colonist newspapers of the day. On looking at these and so many others over the years, I have become fascinated with not only the story being researched but other events of the day I stumble upon. This applied equally to our Shelboure Street memorial.
Back in 1921 you could get six newspapers a week of about 20 pages daily. Over 500 pages for the month for a whopping $1.00.
Here's one of the gem's from 1921...
Apparently they were going to be using explosive charges in order to open up the ground, but cancelled the plan when they realized with some 5,000 spectators, its was far too dangerous to do this.
But what really caught my eye was the initials... GAUV. The Grand Army United Veterans. So similar in name to the famous US veterans national group..the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic, which formed just after the US Civil War. GAR had several branches in central and eastern Canada, and it almost sounds like they may have been in BC, in some form or another. (yet more to research).
Getting back again to the newspaper searches here in Victoria, another item jumped out regarding memorials and the 1921 ceremony in particular.
On November 11th 1921 dignitaries from around the free world traveled to Washington DC, and Arlington National Cemetery to pay their own country's respects for the fallen comrade. Most brought along and awarded to the deceased their own country's highest of bravery medals that were of course joined by the US's Medal of Honor.
Britain presented the Victoria Cross. Canada's Prime Minister attended and with him were two Canadian Victoria Cross recipients, one of them being the oldest recipient then alive in the world.
Today the tomb is joined by other Unknowns from several war fronts and lay beside their comrade at Arlington. This is probably the most famous of all memorials on US soil.
Back in Victoria, yesterday about 1,000 friends and neighbours, veterans, dignitaries and serving members of the militia, the cadets, various bands and the RCN gathered to either participate in or witness the short but most dignified ceremony to unveil one of the new Memorial Avenue signs, an interpretation sign, and to officially learn that the project is well on its way to reaching goals sought so many years ago. Goals that have been allowed to slip by for far too long.
Yesterday's ceremony took place several houses north of the white car on the tight in this image. One must wonder how many of those attending realized that yesterday they walked in the very footsteps of these great forefathers, while gathered to honor our dead.
Many, if not all of the new Memorial Avenue signs have been installed along both sides of Shelbourne now. At least one set of interpretative signs has also been installed already. it is at the very intersection where the General's plaques are found.
Looking closely at the image on the left, you can see a Londonplane tree. At its base, though not shown in the image, is the Generals' plague.
Each brought words of wisdom, a reminder that we sit or stand on the lands of the First Nations, and how we must continue to preserve the memories of those who gave their all so that we could live in peace,
As we stood in stillness for the playing of the Last Post, I could not help but notice almost the perfect silence. There were a few rattling of chairs and a few babies crying, but they seemed to be off in the distance. But then the earey silence was broken by the ruffling of leaves being blown about in the airt and on the ground before us.
It was if the fallen were reaching out to us and thanking us for remembering them.
What more can I say !
This was indeed a community effort, but I feel much of its success rests on the shoulders of Ray Travers and his group for taking on this challenge and for the community to be so willing to play their roles to see it to this stage of fruition. There is more to be done but I will save that for another day.
In the mean time Ray's goal was to have a dignified service in remembrance of the fallen, to get the street up and running again and to again inject some life back into the stories of these community heroes. I'd say his efforts resulting in a resounding success.
Well done Sir.
See you next week.