Cenotaph Before Victory Square

Update: This was initially posted October 27, 2017

CVA 99-895 - Cenotaph 11 Nov 1920 Stuart Thomson (South Vancouver)

CVA 99-895 – Cenotaph, 11 Nov 1920. Stuart Thomson.

This makeshift-looking, wooden cenotaph was located at the South Vancouver Municipal Hall – formerly SW corner of Fraser St. at 41st Ave.; across from Mountain View Cemetery; today, it is the site of John Oliver School. (There were distinct municipalities of Vancouver, South Vancouver, and Point Grey until 1929 when the three municipalities were merged into a single City of Vancouver).

Victory Square was still four years from being ready for its unveiling for its new purpose as a memorial to ‘the boys’ lost in World War I (and, later, those Canadians who died in other major conflicts).

Apparently, post-WW1 memorial construction was slow in happening and so it was left to the Women’s Auxiliary of the South Vancouver branch of the Great War Veterans’ Association to fill the gap created by tardy municipal leaders¹:

[T]he auxiliary met and unanimously decided that if other organizations appeared to be forgetful they were not. . . . [A] suitable spot was chosen and plans were at once decided on for erection. Owing to the short time left before Armistice Day, November 11, a temporary cenotaph will be erected and the permanent structure will be put up later. The idea of the cenotaph is that on each anniversary of the death of of a South Vancouver hero the auxiliary will place a wreath in his memory on the memorial. His name, rank and date of death will be duly inscribed thereon.
(Vancouver World. November 6, 1920)

The more permanent memorial was erected in 1926 at South Vancouver Municipal Park (just a few blocks away at Ross St. and E. 41st Ave.)

A friend pointed out that the creator of the temporary cenotaph shown above made a singular/plural grammatical error. It looked that way to me, too (We thought it ought to read “their names shall live forevermore.”) However, I then noticed that this ‘error’ was also on the Victory Square Cenotaph, where it claims – in slightly more King James-y English – that “their name liveth forevermore”. Hmm.

Upon doing a bit of research, I have learned that “Their name…” is a direct quote from the King James version of the apocryphal Book of Sirach 44:14 (quoted below, along with verse 1, to provide some context):

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us….

Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.
(Emphasis mine; why it is that ‘bodies’ is shown in the plural form while ‘name’ is translated as singular, I don’t know.)

Presumably, South Vancouver leaders of the ’20s didn’t feel free to edit the King James version of the apocrypha!²


¹I’m indebted to Robert at WestEndVancouver for correcting my conclusion in the original version of this post that the location of the cenotaph was Mountain View Cemetery. Thanks, Robert!

²The more contemporary versions of Sirach 44:14 use ‘names’ instead of ‘name’.

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