"We caught the torch you threw": Great War memorials in New Brunswick, 1918–1926

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University of New Brunswick


The Great War was a global conflict that engulfed participant nations, including Canada, on a scale never before seen. Most Canadian households had a personal connection to the war. After the Armistice, communities in Canada and throughout the British Empire erected memorials to those who lost in the great conflagration. Each memorial has its own story of development which is intrinsically linked to the community that built it. Nearly a century later, these war memorials still stand in central places, serving as historical documents full of clues about the people who built them. This thesis examines the process of memorial construction in five New Brunswick communities in the wake of the Great War. Woodstock, St. Stephen, Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton represent southern New Brunswick’s three major urban centres and two rural centres. Each community built a memorial unique in shape, design, and history; yet each fulfills a similar commemorative purpose. These five memorials collectively remember individual soldiers lost and became mechanisms for public and private grief. Great War memorials are public manifestations of a community, province, and nation in mourning. This case study of how five New Brunswick memorials came into being sheds light on a process that took place in thousands of communities, large and small, across what became the British Commonwealth.