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Awake anon the tales of valour: the career of a war memorial in St. Catharines, Ontario

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Memorials cultivate a common understanding of the past that is communicated through the celebration of select people, places or events. Because memorials are located in public space and crafted from time-defeating materials, the process of commemoration is inherently political. Scholars have studied this process to discover the agendas that inform the ideological content of memorials, but rarely how this content is received by its audience. This question is especially pertinent when memorials outlast the generation and the ideology that created them. This study attempts an answer by exploring the career of one memorial: the monument in St. Catharines, Ontario, dedicated to Private Alexander Watson, a casualty of the Battle of Batoche (1885). It finds that the monument's significance was transformed by political, cultural and historiographical shifts. While its local audience has forgotten its specific message, its generic intent to honour fallen soldiers is still recognized.

Keywords: North-West Rebellion; RĂ©bellion du Nord-Ouest; Saint Catharines; St. Catharines; monuments; monuments aux morts; war memorials

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1 ( ), Email: 2: Department of Geography, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1 ( ), Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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