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Virtual Sightseeing – Victory Square Cenotaph

Written by Library in Library Blog on November 9, 2020

Welcome to AC Library’s virtual sightseeing tour! In this series, the Library will take you to different local sites of interest. We’ll explore these sites using the online resources available to all students and faculty through the Library databases, along with other accessible virtual resources. Join us this week as we explore the Victory Square Cenotaph in Victory Square Park. 

Victory Square is a public park located in downtown Vancouver. It is bordered by Hastings, Pender, Cambie and Hamilton Streets. Maple trees line the sides, originally planted in 1892 and are possibly the oldest street trees in Vancouver. The Victory Square Cenotaph is located on the northern side of the park. Standing just over 9 meters tall, the obelisk serves as a war memorial. It is engraved with sentiments commemorating those lost in World War I. 

Originally known as Government Square, the park was the location of Vancouver’s first courthouse. After the courthouse was demolished in 1913, there were multiple proposals of what to do with the space. The debate was settled in 1922, when it was decided that the space should be a public park and place to remember those lost in war, and the park was given its current name. The Cenotaph was designed by architect, town planner and park commissioner Major G.L. Thornton Sharp. Victory Square was opened to the public in 1924. 

Left Image: Stuart Thomson, Remembrance Day ceremony at Cenotaph, November 11, 1932, photograph, Victory Square Cenotaph, https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/remembrance-day-ceremony-at-cenotaph.

Right Image: Javier Cañada, Field of Red Flowers during Golden Hour, n.d., photograph, https://unsplash.com/photos/lpqgCtnyhjw. 

Since it was founded, it has been the location for the city’s annual Remembrance Day ceremonies. In recent years, the Victory Square Remembrance Day ceremony has begun with a performance by a youth choir, followed by military bands and marching units leading a parade to Victory Square. The parade is then followed by a two-minute silence of remembrance for victims of war, and then the ceremonies are concluded by a 21-gun salute and a flyby from the Royal Canadian air force, after which visitors are permitted to place wreaths and poppies on the memorial. 

This year’s Remembrance Day also marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. This year, members of the public are being asked to remember from home, but can still connect with Victory Square through televised broadcasts and online streams of the Remembrance Day ceremony available from 10:30am to 11:30am on November 11th.  

References:

“How Victory Square and its Cenotaph Came to Be.” Vancouver as it Was: A Photo-Historical Journey, accessed November 4, 2020, https://vanasitwas.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/how-victory-square-and-its-cenotaph-came-to-be/. 

J.S. Matthews, “Vancouver – Victory Square Cenotaph.” War Monuments in Canada World Wide Web Site, accessed November 4, 2020, https://www.cdli.ca/monuments/bc/victory.htm. 

“Remembrance Day ceremonies to be streamed online as cities ask people to stay home.” CBC News, accessed November 4, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/remembrance-day-ceremonies-to-be-streamed-online-as-cities-ask-people-to-stay-home-1.5789831. 

Tiffany Crawford, “Remembrance Day 2019: A guide to events in Metro Vancouver.” Vancouver Sun, accessed November 4, 2020, https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/remembrance-day-2019-a-guide-to-events-in-metro-vancouver. 

“Victory Square Park.” Canada’s Historic Places, accessed November 4, 2020, https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=11191. 


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