Mount Hope Cemetery's War Monument
Of particular interest to many will be a granite war monument commemorating soldiers from Kitchener and Waterloo who fought and died while in uniform for Canada during World War I. The monument is a granite block, wide and high, bearing a beautifully designed bronze tablet, located in Kitchener's Mount Hope cemetery on Linwood Avenue directly across from the cemetery workshop.
The Treaty of Versailles, officially ending the war, was to be signed in less than a week. Numerous community groups had banded together to create a special day honouring not just the peace, but the sacrifices made over the previous years. Kitchener-Waterloo's first "Peace Memorial Sunday" ceremony took place on June 23, 1919 at a specially designated plot of ground just inside the cemetery gates. In attendance were members of the Great War Veterans Association, the Kitchener Musical Society band, city and town officials, women from the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE), Boy Scout troops and thousands from the community who had marched from city hall to the cemetery.
The IODE, Princess of Wales Chapter, placed a wreath for each of the fallen Kitchener and Waterloo heroes who had died in uniform during the recent war. IODE regent, Miss Lizzie Bruce, read a tribute, "They have made the supreme sacrifice for the freedom and the higher life of the world, and the freedom that by reason of their efforts we shall never cease to enjoy, will be their imperishable monument".
Captain Archdeacon Macintosh of Guelph delivered the spiritual address of the day, "These fallen heroes came to the assistance of the weak and had staked the safety of Her Empire. Great Britain has ever stood by the principles of right and justice and loyalty and truth. It was for these principles that the boys whose memories are being commemorated, had laid down their lives in freedom's cause that their spirits are great. If the principles for which they died are maintained their sacrifice will not have been too great."
Mayor David Gross of Kitchener also spoke, "All these dear ones sleeping about us helped to lay the foundation of our home, and by degrees build up what we are now enjoying. Those others, who lie overseas, gave their lives to perpetuate the results of the work and energy of their forefathers."
That first ever Peace Sunday ceremony ended with the sounding of the Last Post. There were similar celebrations held in June of 1920 and 1921. By June of 1922, a civic campaign to raise funds for erecting a memorial monument on the site had been successful. On June 18, 1922, Ontario's Lieutenant-Governor, Henry Cockshutt, unveiled the still-standing granite monument with its bronze memorial tablet. In front of 5,000 K-W citizens, including over 300 veterans, he said: "When we think of the principles, for which those whose names appear hereon and you veterans here today fought for, we have a lesson before us."
Credit: local historian, rych mills