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In 2005 the City of Kingston decided to create a memorial garden and wall to commemorate the city and area’s war dead. Our Remembrance week speaker, Peter Gower, a local historian who had been studying the issue for 10 years, was commissioned to create to list of names for the wall.
Gower wondered why the names were not known in the first place. What he discovered was just how challenging creating and verifying an accurate list of names could be so many years after the wars took place.
What he also discovered was just how recently the idea of memorizing those who had died in battle was. Historically, Britain’s war dead were not recognized until Queen Victoria took up the cause noting, when she visited Brussels in 1889, that 10,000 men lay buried in unmarked mass graves following the Battle of Waterloo.
Graves of soldiers in the ranks began being marked in the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the American Civil War (1861-65). Canada's dead in the North-West Rebellion (1885) were laid in marked graves.
However, in WW1, the enormous task was taken up in earnest by the Red Cross. This evolved into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), an agency that continues to this day. Fabian Ware deserves the credit because it was his efforts through the Red Cross that land was purchased for cemeteries and that durable markers with names and dates were created to "mark their place". 
Plaques also began to appear in churches and other public places. Our own Memorial Hall with its windows was dedicated in 1921. The Frontenac County Court House followed suit. Schools also displayed the names of their fallen.
Following WW2, in 1946, the city built an arena called the "Memorial Centre" and the city created a Book of Remembrance. However, about 2012, the city decided to construct a memorial wall, inscribed with the names of our war dead, and Peter was asked to lead this project.
This required a definition of "the war dead", which was expanded to include civilians who died in a war-related action. The starting point was the war in South Africa and continued through the Korean War and the Middle East. You'll see our wall in front of the Memorial Centre. on York Street.
Gower described the sources he researched for the names. He started with the local plaques and the Book of Remembrance. The CWGC website, the Library and Archives of Canada, and other internet sites, he said, were other sources for names.
The task was not easy because for online searches have to be exact. For example, Louis Brown could not be found because his name was Walter Louis Brown.
In another instance, Gower describe how one would miss those lost at sea. In the case of Walter Lewis Brown, Peter discovered from Renfrew's newspaper that he was "lost on patrol over the North Sea". Peter eventually found his name on the Runnymede Memorial, which lists 20,500 men and women lost from the British Empire Air Forces.
Spelling was also a problem. He found that "Lober Township" was really "Loughboro Township". First names were some-times changed and foreign names were anglicized. From this research, Peter committed to inscribing in marble, all the names he had identified.
The reverse side of the Memorial Park sign
Kingston’s Parade of Remembrance continues at the Cross of Sacrifice, (21st Battalion CEF Cenotaph in City Park) in part because of tradition. The offer of an indoor service in the Memorial Centre in the case of inclement weather was laughed off by veteran organizations. Perhaps one of the reasons is because the parade to the York St. wall would have to be much longer than that to the cenotaph. However, its place outside the Memorial Centre is highly visible and continues to remind Kingstonians all year long of our war dead.


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