This week again I wish to start by recognizing the men and women all along the Eastern seaboard of the US who are doing the herculean task of trying to protect their families, neighbours and their communities where possible from the deadly results of the hurricane, at its worse in many places as I write.
It was also only a week ago that men and women all around the world remembered the devastating costs of lost lives during the 911 attacks, and how the US and in fact the global society is still suffering from that catastrophe and at war since.
Here in Victoria BC we shared the grief with those around the world. We all are also preparing to give the proper honours due our forefathers and mothers, other family members and communities across the world that will soon find themselves in thoughts of the horrors they faced during the Great War that came to an end a century ago.
A war that once again called for the most... for volunteers... in the uniforms of the nurses, soldiers and sailors, airmen, coast guard and marines, the police and other emergency services back home or on the front line.
As the war progressed, back home the communities across the country were faced with dealing with the high costs of suffering the disabilities and the death that all wars bring. Soon families would be creating memorials to their lost loved ones that would add up to the thousands and more.
In England the communities and patriotic societies came to the concept of having something in addition to the tomb stone or the unit or town's statute at city hall and other public places. Thoughts turned to something living..., that would grow and give life to the community rather than the cold face of a grave marker.
There the International Congress of Women were discussing something they called the Roads to Remembrance. These called for the planting of grand trees that would grow to great heights and last for centuries and bring life, and blooms galore to those that passed under them. These being properly placed, would line both sides of the street and stretch for miles of pleasant walking or driving and hopefully be identified as tokens of thanks for those who gave their all for their hometowns. The very roads would be long and straight and symbolize the long roads the soldiers traveled in France. And the abundance of life shown by the trees as they aged would be a sign of life over death, rather than the usual cold grave stone or monument.
One of the Congress members was a friend of a Major by the name of Arthur Haggard who just happened to be the founder of Britain's Veterans Association, and a member of a committee set up on the very topic of these sorts of memorials.
Soon the concept was shared to many parts of the world. One of these was to Major Haggard's sister... the Baroness d'Anethan... who was living in a place called Victoria British Columbia. Da!
On Nov, 18 of the following year the Victoria city Mayor announced that a road would be made running in a straight line running northbound from Bay Street to Mount Doug Park. Discussions were apparently held on trees being planted on both sides of the street in honour of the dead soldiers etc, for the whole length and that it would be called Memorial Avenue. One of the strong proponents at the time was well respected businessman Thomas Walker.
The road continues to the south into the city of Victoria. About a dozen of the blocks adjacent to the map shown would have also been part of memorial Avenue.
The following month the road was officially opened with another ceremony. Here's what the press had to say about the event...
In 1976 a small plaque detailing the above 3 visits and tree planting was mounted along Shelbourne Road at the corner of San Juan.
I suspect hundreds, if not thousands pass by it every day and do not even know it is there. If you are one of these folks, please take the time to visit it and pay your respects.
Next week I will bring you some very exciting news about this Memorial Avenue. Please don't miss it. And further, keep from 10.30 till noon free on Saturday September 29th.
I'll tell you why next Sunday.
See you then,