Each year, the community gathers in memory of the hundreds who left for the front lines more than 100 years ago. Wearing poppies on our lapels, we stand in honour and reflection, and pause to remember the meaning of the Brant War Memorial (sometimes referred to as the Brant County War Memorial or Cenotaph) and the sacrifice it represents.
The Brant War Memorial is located at War Memorial Park on the corner of Brant Avenue and Dalhousie Street. In 1921, the Brant War Memorial Association was formed to develop a suitable tribute to commemorate and honour members of the Brantford community who paid the supreme sacrifice in the WWI; of the 5,571 from Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations who enlisted in the Great War, 701 lost their lives.
Younger readers might not know that the Memorial did not always look like it does now. The memorial gallery, which sweeps along the back of the central obelisk, was added in 1954. The seven bronze figures, representing the men and women from the military, air force, navy, and nursing sisters, although included in the original plans, were not included when the Memorial was first dedicated in 1933.
Artist Walter S. Allward, one of Canada’s greatest sculptors of the time, designed the monument. The design of the monument bears similarities to Allward’s masterpiece, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, considered one of the three finest in Europe. Some of his work is on display in the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa as well.
The original monument, decorated with poppies and an inscription that reads, “In memory of the men who gave their lives for humanity 1914-1918), was dedicated on May 25, 1933. On July 2, 1954, the granite Memorial Gallery, designed by local architect Charles Brooks, was added behind the central obelisk, which includes inscriptions of 339 names of the fallen from the WWII and the Korean War.
The Brant County War Memorial Committee then initiated the creation of bronze figures to fulfil Allward’s original plans for the monument. Helen Granger Young designed seven figures, using the lost-wax method of bronze casting, to commemorate the important events of the Boer War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The figures were unveiled and dedicated on September 12, 1992.
Originally funded from generous contributions from community organizations and individuals with the understanding that the municipality would manage the long-term maintenance, the Brant War Memorial continues to receive considerable care, including a protective wax treatment given to the bronze figures in summer 2015.
Remember and honour the service men and women of Canada at the City of Brantford Remembrance Day Parade and Service on Wednesday, November 11. Click to learn more information at the City of Brantford website.