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The history of war memorials in Kamloops

The War Memorial Cairn. Kamloops Museum & Archives, 1922.
Image Credit: Kamloops Museum & Archives
November 05, 2016 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Editor, 

Memorials are dedicated to specific individuals, or events in our shared history. Often, those events are wars that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Local cenotaphs provide a place for communities to come together and honour those who sacrificed on our behalf.

There are a number of memorials in Kamloops, including two in Memorial Hill Park. The first was built in 1922 by students from Stuart Wood School in conjunction with the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE). The cairn was constructed in memory of the 192 students who served in the Great War (1914 – 1918), the majority of whom did not return. A second bronze plaque was added to honour the students who sacrificed themselves during the Second World War (1939 – 1945).

The second and the larger of the two memorials is the Kamloops Cenotaph. It was unveiled in May 24, 1925 and was the result of fund-raising efforts by the Ladies' Auxiliary to the Great War Veteran’s Association and City of Kamloops. The cenotaph was originally dedicated to those who lost their lives during the Great War. It subsequently came to memorialize fallen soldiers from the Second World War, the Korean War (1950 –1953), and the war in Afghanistan whose names were added to the Cenotaph. It served as the site of Armistice Day and Remembrance Day activities until the 1990s.

The third war memorial is Memorial Arena, located at 740 Victoria Street. The memorial was the result of a dozen community organizations banding together to form the District Memorial Recreation Centre Society. Through strong support by the community, including a number of successful raffles, the arena was dedicated on Remembrance Day in 1949.
As attendance at Remembrance Day outgrew Memorial Hill Park, a group of veterans’ organizations jointly organized the construction of a memorial cairn at Riverside Park dedicated to all of the lives lost during Canada’s conflicts. Constructed out of river rocks, the cairn was completed in 1997 and has since become the main site of the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Kamloops. Another site is the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc memorial across from St. Joseph's Church that honours the Band members who died in Canada's wars.

Sourcing information from the public, Heritage BC has recently created an interactive map of the war memorials in the province, which includes many of the memorials in Kamloops. For each memorial site, the map features photographs, a location and a short description. Heritage BC continues to solicit submissions from the public for memorial sites to expand the map.

The strong community support and initiative in building these memorials makes clear the profound impacts these events had on the national, local and international level. There was hardly a Canadian community unaffected by these events, and here in Kamloops, like in many other communities, people felt compelled to memorialize their fallen, to start the search for answers, and to give grieving communities a place where they could lay wreaths, commemorate, and together start both public and private healing. Continued support for projects like the Cenotaph restoration by community members, businesses and the City underscores the importance to our community of remembering those who gave their lives in service.

Cenotaph at Unveiling on May 24, 1925. Kamloops Museum Archives photo 1524.
Cenotaph at Unveiling on May 24, 1925. Kamloops Museum Archives photo 1524.
Image Credit: Contributed/Kamloops Museum & Archives

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