CONSECRATION Day?!

VPL 17587: Consecration Day procession. Aug 4 1915. Stuart Thomson photo.

August 4, 1915 was declared by Vancouver’s civic authorities to be Consecration Day. It would commemorate the one-year anniversary of Canada declaring war against Germany and thereby entering the Great War. In the words of those who were contemporary to the event, the purpose of Consecration Day was “to invoke divine blessing upon our efforts.” (World 29 July 1915).

Local church denominations were asked to hold religious services from 2 until 3 p.m. After that, there was a parade which began at Main /and Hastings and ended at the Cambie Street Grounds. There was a long list of gents invited to speak at the Cambie Grounds (from Charles Hibbert Tupper to the Japanese Consul Abe). Each speaker was asked to speak for no more than 10 minutes. I counted about 27 in the list of invited speakers. If each of them spoke for an average of 10 minutes, the audience would be sitting for about 2.5 hours (World 29 July 1915). That is considerably longer than most sermons — even in 1915!

Proclaiming a day as “Consecration Day” doesn’t seem to me something that would be done today in the event that (God forbid) there were a major war involving Canada as a combatant. The largely Christian demographic of the city has changed, probably permanently, to one that is not.

There is a strong element of blessing associated with consecration [1]. Since blessing is, ultimately, something that comes from God, it seems clear that at least one purpose of Consecration Day was to claim (dubiously?) God’s blessing on our side in the war.

Note

  1. I am appreciative of Nancy Nelson for her help in interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the use of the English word consecrate. And also of Tim Kuepfer for his help with New Testament use of the word. I should point out that I pulled out a very small part of their responses to me. Thank you both for your help!

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