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Cenotaphs in Greater Victoria

Nov 11 2011
Veterans Cemetery, God's Acre, is between the 12th and 17th holes of the Gorge Vale Golf Course.  

Veterans Cemetery, God's Acre, is between the 12th and 17th holes of the Gorge Vale Golf Course.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford, timescolonist.com

The cenotaph in front of the legislature is perhaps the best known in Greater Victoria. It is the stage every year for the region's biggest Remembrance Day ceremony. But there are many lesser-known memorials, cemeteries and cenotaphs in the region where people can pay their respects to the fallen. They are listed here alphabetically.


1. Memorial Park, with a cenotaph, is on Esquimalt Road across from municipal hall. Two First World War trophy field guns flank a cenotaph erected in 1924 to commemorate Canadian soldiers killed in the First World War. An oak seedling planted in 1937 has grown into an imposing tree. It came from the Royal Forests in England and is one of several "Coronation Oaks" in the region. The 0.9-hectare park was designated a heritage site in 1995.

Remembrance Day ceremonies are held at the cenotaph each year.

2. Veterans Cemetery, God's Acre is nestled between the 12th and 17th holes of the Gorge Vale Golf Course in Esquimalt. This 1.1-hectare of land, a former turnip field, was purchased for $250 in 1868 as the final resting place for officers and men of the Royal Navy. Before this, officers were buried at what is now known as Pioneer Square in Victoria, and sailors on Brothers Island, at the mouth of Esquimalt Harbour.

Oak Bay

3. The Oak Bay Cenotaph, on Beach Drive in Uplands Park, was constructed in 1948 in memory of 97 young men and one woman from Oak Bay, who died in the Second World War. The cenotaph was unveiled on Armistice Day in 1948. The design is a wall of concrete, which frames a three-metre-tall statue of a woman with her eyes downcast. The names of the 97 war dead are inscribed in granite. The inscription reads: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."


4. There is a war memorial at the south end of the municipal hall, 770 Vernon Ave. The memorial honours the dead from 1914 to 1918, 1939 to 1945, 1950 to 1953 and Major Ernest W. MacQuarrie, CD, ceremonial chaplain 1972-1993. The memorial, which dates back to 1919, was originally located in Gore Park on Shelbourne Street. It was moved to its current location in May 1970.


5. A cenotaph can be found in front of Sidney municipal hall, 2440 Sidney Ave. It was originally located at the former North Saanich Memorial Park lands, where Sancha Hall now stands. It was moved to its present location about 50 years ago. The cenotaph honours those who served in both World Wars, the Korean conflict and, most recently, those who fell in Afghanistan.

The Saanich Branch 37 of the Legion organizes ceremonies at the cenotaph every Remembrance Day.


6. Pioneer Square on Quadra Street between Rockland Avenue and Meares Street (beside Christ Church Cathedral) is also called The Old Burying Ground. This City of Victoria park and early cemetery holds the remains of 1,300 early settlers. The Burying Ground opened in 1855 and closed in 1873. In the park are three military monuments:

• The Royal Navy and Police Memorial, erected in 1993, honours 55 Royal navy personnel and one policeman who died between 1846 and 1868.

• The Royal Canadian Air Force Cairn, erected in 2008, remembers air force personnel who fell in both World Wars, Korea and UN peacekeeping missions.

• The Canadian Scottish Regimental Cenotaph remembers members of the regiment who died in numerous conflicts.

7. The cenotaph in front of the B.C. legislature, 698 Government St., is the major cenotaph in Victoria that features prominently in the official ceremonies every Remembrance Day. The Cenotaph was unveiled by Lt.-Gov. W.C. Nichol on July 12, 1925. The Cenotaph recognizes the sacrifices of Canadian Forces personnel and citizens during both World Wars, the Korean War and peacekeeping missions. The bronze statue depicts an unknown soldier and was designed by sculptors Vernon and Sidney March of Farnborough, Kent, who later created the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

8. Victoria Memorial in Ross Bay Cemetery holds 133 war graves. The Naval Memorial in the cemetery is a square block of granite bearing the names of 39 officers and men who were lost or buried at sea in the Pacific Ocean. Behind the memorial stands a Cross of Sacrifice.

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