Building the Chilliwack War Memorial
In January 1919, the local branch of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire forwarded a letter to Chilliwack City Council suggesting the construction of a war memorial. Several structures were suggested but most popular of all, was a public park.
"…a public park…might be the resort of those who had served their country in its time of need; and with an entablature or other monument, bearing the names of those who had listed as well as those who had 'Crossed the Divide'…" (Chilliwack Progress, January 30, 1919. P. 1)
In April 1921 the area behind city hall was selected as the site for the cenotaph. Representatives of the Township and City councils, the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire Chapters, the Great War Veterans Association thought that this location, being the main highway through the valley, would attract the attention of all visitors.
A War Memorial Committee was formed in May 1921 and the municipal chapter of the I.O.D.E. became the first to subscribe to the memorial fund contributing $1000.00 on behalf of all valley I.O.D.E. chapters. The committee, however, was not able to follow through on its mandate as two members of the committee resigned shortly after their appointment. Another public meeting, February 1922 remedied the situation when a newcommittee was organized.
In March 1922, a large plea was published in the Chilliwack Progress to encourage local citizens to subscribe to the war memorial fund. About March 19, 1922 special collecting boxes were placed by the I.O.D.E. in every public classroom of the Chilliwack Valley. The Chilliwack Choral Society prepared a patriotic concert in aid of the children's war memorial fund and this was held at the Princess Street Drill Hall. By the end of May $1,700.00 was raised for the fund that included the original $1000.00 contribution by the I.O.D.E., the Children Aid Memorial Fund and from other private sources.
In December, a roll of the fallen was published and the committee called for any errors or omissions. The following month it was announced that the memorial, built by the Art Monument Company, would be unveiled April 9, 1923, the sixth anniversary of the capture of Vimy Ridge by Canadian soldiers. "Coming within a week of Easter, it seems particularly appropriate." (Chilliwack Progress, January 18, 1923, p. 1) The unveiling was successful with many people in attendance, but the memorial was not debt-free.
The Cenotaph Committee, in November 1923, made another public appeal to pay the balance due on the construction of the memorial. Total cost was $2771.32 but this figure did not include the costs incurred by city council to scale and level the roadsides nor the expenses incurred by the B.C. Electric Railway Company who moved several poles that interfered with the appearance of the park. In April 1924, the memorial was free from debt when the Municipal Government paid the remaining amount of $270.00.
[Note: Dates of birth and age at time of death have often come from seperate sources. In some instances, they do not correspond.]