The History of the Cenotaph and associated stories from the Salt Spring Island Archives

The Honour Roll on the War Shrine

Dedication of the "Shrine" - Photo taken from the steps of the S.S.I. Trading Co. in 1917 (SSI Archives)
... the countryside, the dress of the people and the mode of transportation was different. However, the solemn occasion - the remembrance of fallen comrades was no more heartfelt or more poignant than it is today." - Driftwood, November 8 1962

The first War Memorial erected in Ganges was a wooden structure with the names of Southern Gulf Islanders who were serving overseas inscribed on large white boards, with two lists on each of the four sides of the memorial. "The War Shrine" listed the names of all men and women who were serving their country at that time. Names were added as they joined the services. The names of those who were killed were marked with a cross. (source: Canadian War Monuments Project, 2000)

Salt Spring Island has had its share of wars, warriors, and war casualties. In World War One, we raised 150 men and lost 25. In World War Two, we raised 168 men and women, and lost 9. In each of these conflicts, more than 10% of the population joined the forces." from a talk by Ivan Mouat, 1988 - SSI Legion, Branch 92.
Close up of the War Shrine Honour Roll - Salt Spring Island (SSI Archives)
The following men lost their lives during World War I... C. C. Hedges, J. R. Lumley, H. T. Lumley, C. P. Storer, S. A. Storer, G. F. Haydon, N. C. Heaton, P. Falkner, A.N.H. Churchill, E. Cartwright, G.R.C. Calcott, R.P.P. Norton, G.H.C. Milnes, F. H. Corbett, J.D.B. Craig, C. M. Blandy, A.T.B. Charlesworth, H. Emerson, H. Longdon, L. Carter, C. G. Dean, A. G. Kemp, J. Mason, M. T. Myles, J. D. Whims." from Charles Khan, "Story of an Island"

The Football Team

Salt Spring Island's Champion Football Team, c1910 - Of the 12 men pictured, 11 enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War 1; four died and one was paralyzed. (SSI Archives)
Arms crossed, socks pulled taut and chins held high, the players pose proudly behind a pair of trophies. One can only wonder if the lads had any sense of the political forces at play that would uproot them from their island home to fight in Europe within five years. Of the 12 men pictured, 11 enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force; four died and one was paralyzed. The lives of those who returned would never be the same." Archives researcher Gillian Watson to the Driftwood, 2016.

Private Henry Emerson

Henry Emerson was born on the 6th of December 1889 in Victoria BC. When Henry was 4, his father abandoned the family and his mother put the children in the care of the British Columbia Protestant Poor Orphans Home in Victoria. He moved to Salt Spring Island when he aged out of the orphanage, and worked as a clerk at the Mouat Brothers store for at least three years. He was "was a very dear friend of all the Mouat family" (Sue Mouat).

Henry enlisted on the 8th of December 1915, claiming his date of birth as the sixth of December 1892, (he wanted to appear three years younger than he was, possibly to be given more combat opportunities). He joined the 88th Battalion Victoria Fusiliers, Canadian Expeditionary Force. After sailing to England in May 1916, his unit was absorbed into the 30th Reserve Battalion. Private Henry Emerson was killed in France sometime between April 8th and 10th, 1917, during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He is buried in the Arras Cemetery in Roclincourt, France.

From the Daily Colonist - May 9, 1917
Henry Emerson

A Young Woman's Point of View

"Shrine and Show Day" From the Diary of Beryl Scott, September 22 1917 - Note her Father's name, F. Scott, on the War Shrine. (SSI Archives)

Shrine and Show Day – Saturday 22 September 1917

Smoky but sunny and warm. Uncle Geoff picked apples and Mother stayed at home. I helped with chores. In the afternoon I dressed in my best and rowed over to the Agricultural Show and to see the shrine unveiled. The “Shrine” has the names of all the men who have enlisted from Salt Spring and the other Islands, in this Great War, on it. There are about 250 names on it. Colonel Marriott, Dr. Redd and Rev. Aiken and Rev. Dean made speeches and then Colonel Marriott unveiled the Shrine and crowds and crowds of people stood round and sang “God save the King” while the Kuper Island Band played. The Shrine stands at the Cross Roads between the Trading Co. and Mouats. Major Harvey was also up with Colonel M for the afternoon and heaps of strangers from the other Islands were over. The “Show” was a very good one for war time. I had tea with Mr & Mrs Carrie and Colonel and Mrs Layard. We never showed anything because we had’nt anything to show. On the grounds they had football etc. The Sunshine Guild provided lunch and afternoon tea.

The War Shrine Unveiling - Close up - April 22, 1917 (SSI Archives)
It is simply beastly without Dad." from the Diary of Beryl Scott, 1916
From Beryl Scott's photo album, "Empress of Asia" with returning soldiers including "Dad", Lieutenant Frank Scott, 1919 (SSI Archives)
Scott, F.L. Lieutenant Frank Lewis Scott, Ganges Harbor, BC. Born 05/10/1876 Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Rancher. Married Wife Kathleen Manorie Wilson, Ganges Harbour. Large holding in Ganges Range 2, sold the land lot for Mahon Hall. Founding director - Salt Spring Trading Co. Enlisted 15th Sept 1916. Vancouver 339288. 58th O.S. Depot Field Battery. RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 8717 - 13 (SSI Archives - Names on the War Shrine)

Capitaine Paul Bion

Video - Historian and archaeologist Chris Arnett gives a talk about Capitaine Paul Bion, a Salt Spring Island poultry farmer who was recalled to France to serve in WW1 (thank you to Peter Prince).

Capitaine Paul Armand Louis Bion was born in 1874, in Montigny-Sur-Abbe, France. He joined the French Army at the age of 19. He rose rapidly through the ranks becoming a 1st class Private in February 1896, Corporal on September 1896, and Sergeant in September 1897. He studied Electrical Engineering and in 1906 he began working for the electrical department in Saigon, French Indo-China. In 1910 Paul Bion and his wife Maria purchased 160 acres on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Shortly after his arrival in October 1910 he was released from the French Reserve Army. He started a poultry farm called Dogwood Poultry. Chickens and eggs were sold in Vancouver, while fruit and vegetables were sold locally.

At the outbreak of war with Germany on the 4th of August 1914 he was recalled to duty.

In 1916 just prior to the Battle of the Somme he was transferred to HQ. 1st Army Corps and was placed in command of the 2nd Bureau. Under great difficulty, having just arrived, he organised the Department in a remarkable fashion. He provided accurate and intelligent information to the 1st Bureau and was cited for the award of Officer 1st Class on 15th December 1916. From this time until 2nd October 1917 he carried out his duties as Chef de 2ieme Bureau so well that his superiors wrote many accolades about his balance, enterprise, loyalty and devotion to duty. During the last battle of Flanders, his work resulted in his being awarded the Chevalier De Legion D' Honneur on the 29th December 1916. In addition to the Legion of Honour he also received a Criox De Guerre with Palme, an Etoile D'Argent and an Etoile De Vermeil.

He returned to his farm in Canada, where together with General Wilkinson, he was instrumental in the building of a War Memorial on Salt Spring. Capitaine Paul Bion died in 1938. (adapted from Chris Arnett's Bion presentation)

Cpt. Paul Bion never spoke of his time in the war, and his family were surprised to find the box of secret documents, letters and photos in the attic of the farmhouse on Epron Road almost 80 years later. (SSI Archives)
Capitaine Paul Bion in the trenches (SSI Archives, Bion Collection)

No. 2 Construction Battalion

They were skilled, loyal and resilient soldiers, and we as a country did not live up to what they expected from us. We owe it to them to celebrate their achievements and remember their sacrifices in service to Canada. They deserve our deepest respect and gratitude." The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan , federal Minister of National Defence.
Advertisement for the "Black Battalion"

The Whims Family

Hiram Whims was one of Salt Spring Island's early Black settlers. Born in Tennessee in c1806, he probably bought his own freedom from slavery in Missouri before he moved his family to California. The family then emigrated north to the colony of Vancouver Island with a contingent of emancipated Black families, invited to settle and become British citizens by Governor James Douglas. Hiram Whims pre-empted land at the Fernwood area of North Salt Spring Island in c1859, and generations of Whims descendants grew up farming on the Island. Four of Hiram Whims' grandsons served in World War I, and three great-grandsons served in World War II.

Whims on the Honour Roll

William David Whims, b.1890, 2nd Depot Battalion, British Columbia Regiment, 2138848

George Harim Whims, b. 1894, No.1 Forestry Draft, 2203817

Robert Clark Whims, b. 1898, No.2 Construction Battalion, 931613

James Douglas Whims, b. 1900, No.2 Construction Battalion, 931614 †

No. 2 Construction Battalion, November 1916. (Department of National Defence)

James Douglas Whims

James Douglas Whims was the youngest of the 9 children of William Whims and Emily Sampson Whims. Although he was too young to sign up, he was 6'2" tall and weighed 192 lbs according to his records, and may have appeared old enough. He enlisted with his brother Robert Clark Whims in Victoria on October 24, 1916. They joined the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Engineers, together. Their Regimental Numbers are 931613 and 931614. The No. 2 Construction Battalion unit had just been created following a petition from Canadian men of African descent who had been excluded from joining the war. The platoon was comprised of Black soldiers tasked to build roads and clear mines as the Allies pushed deeper into the heart of Europe.

Arriving overseas in April 1917, the No. 2 Construction Battalion was stationed at Seaford, East Sussex in England for training. The unit spent weeks digging trenches for other troops in training, while constructing and repairing roads. James Whims contracted measles and was hospitalized between May 15 - 31, 1917. During his convalescence the No. 2 had left for France, and James Whims was attached (on "loan" it appears to say in his papers) to the 7th Reserve Battalion which remained at Seaford. In October 1917 he was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion at Bramshott, East Hampshire. James Whims was reunited with the No.2 Construction Battalion in France on March 4, 1918. He was then attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps from March 25 to April 2, 1918.

On April 4 he was admitted to No. 7 Canadian General Hospital at Etaples, France, diagnosed with pleurisy with effusion, and already "seriously ill". On the 17th his condition was listed as "dangerously ill". On April 19, 1918, James Whims died of "Pleurisy, due to exposure while on Military Duty". He is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, Plot XXXVII. C. 3.

1901 Census - James D. Whims (Ancestry.ca)
Etaples, France (from: findagrave.com)

The Next Generation - Great-Grandsons of Hiram Whims

Left: Jim Wood, son of Emily Jane Whims, was the nephew of the 4 Whims brothers who served in WW1. Right: Harry Whims, son of Robert Clark Whims, No.2 Construction Battalion. Bottom: Cpl. Billy Whims, son of George H. Whims, No.1 Forestry Draft (SSI Archives)

Nurse Calhoun

Annie Rebecca Calhoun was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She was trained in Tyrone and Dublin, graduating top of her nursing class. Having worked as a private nurse for a number of years in England, Annie visited Montreal in 1911 at the age of 35 and was recruited into the Victorian Order of Nurses. She immigrated to Canada and by 1914 had been appointed the first matron of the Lady Minto Hospital on Salt Spring Island. When war was declared Annie stayed on at Lady Minto for awhile as its only nurse, but by September 1915 she left Canada to return to England where she joined Queen Alexandria's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She was sent to Salonika serving as a staff nurse in the 37th General Hospital (1600 beds) near Vertekop, Northern Greece.

The hospital was bombarded on the morning of 12 March 1917. Annie was wounded, and subsequently received decorations for her actions that day. In July 1917 Annie returned to England and in that same month married Frank Crofton of the Canadian Army Service Corps. He was an Irishman with noble connections whom she had known on Salt Spring. She then served in a military hospital until the birth of their son Francis in January 1919. Annie and Frank moved back to Salt Spring where they settled on Ganges Hill. Annie gave up full time nursing but still filled in at Lady Minto when needed. Nurse Annie Calhoun, now known as Mrs. Frank Crofton and wearing her medals of honour, unveiled the Cenotaph in 1922.

“For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. She attended to and provided for the safety of helpless patients. She was assisting Staff Nurse Dewar when the latter was fatally wounded. Although the tent was full of smoke and acrid fumes and she had been struck by a fragment of the bomb, she attended to Nurse Dewar and also to the case of a helpless patient”. London Gazette May 26 1917

The Cenotaph

Cenotaph - a public monument (= special statue or building) built in memory of particular people who died in war, often with their names written on it - Cambridge Dictionary

Created in honour of Salt Spring Islanders who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars, the Cenotaph once stood on the triangle dividing Lower Ganges and Fulford Ganges roads. The Cenotaph was dedicated on April 17, 1922." SSI Historical Society - Walking Tour of Ganges
Parade towards the Cenotaph Dedication in 1922. Cenotaph top left in the image. (SSI Archives)

"It was not until 1921 that a public meeting was called by the I.O.D.E. to discuss the advisability of erecting a cenotaph, in honour of those who gave their lives in serving their country. At this public meeting, the late Mr. Edward Walter was elected Chairman, Mr. LF. Speed, Secretary and the late Mr. Gavin C. Mouat, Treasurer. These three men headed the drive that succeeded in raising the $1200 for the Cenotaph. The Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna wooden plaques from the Honour Roll were sent to the various islands and the Salt Spring Island plaque was installed in the Mahon Hall where it remained for years. Where it is today, is not known." - Driftwood, November 8 1962

Diary of Beryl Scott – Unveiling of Memorial – Monday April 17 1922 (SSI Archives)

Unveiling of Memorial – Monday April 17 1922

Fine but very cold & strong gusts of wind all day – I took the cream to Ganges. Went up to the doctor’s for some medicine. Lunch at Harbour House and then I helped some of the Hockey-ites decorate the Hall until 2:30 when about 160 people gathered by the Trad. Co. to see the unveiling of the memorial to the boys who fell in the war - Mr. Atkins, Mr. Bastion, Mr. Jackson M.P.P. a Methodist Parson all took part in the Proceeding, while Mrs. Frank Crofton as a nurse with her medals on did the actual unveiling - Afterwards the Norman Wilsons, Peter de Rouper, Mr. Jackson, Byng and I went to Tea at the Will Scotts’.

The Cenotaph in its original position, looking toward Mouat's Trading Co. (SSI Archives)
"Remember when? A glance of this picture answers the OFT repeated question heard today as to why it was placed on this site. The bluff of trees directly behind the cenotaph is where Ganges Pharmacy stands today. The building in the bush on the left of the road is a blacksmith shop, located close to where Salt Spring Motors is today." - Driftwood, October 6, 1966
Elizabeth Byron with grandson Jesse Byron lay a wreath, c1963. To the right are the buildings which house Harlan's Chocolate and Pharmasave today. (SSI Archives)
(the Cenotaph) was moved to Centennial Park and rededicated in November 1966, where it remains a token of respect and a gathering place on Remembrance Day." SSI Historical Society - Walking Tour of Ganges
The Cenotaph was moved to its current position in Centennial Park and rededicated in 1966. (SSI Archives)

Those Who Fell in the Great War - 1916-1918

The names of the 25 Salt Spring Island men who died in service during Wold War 1

Those Who Fell in the Second World War - 1939-1943

The Plaque was added to the Cenotaph after the Second World War.
The names of the 9 Salt Spring Island men who died in service during Wold War 2

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92

Honourary Colonel-in-Chief, Her Royal Highness Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, inspecting the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) shortly after the Regiment’s arrival in England. At left are Lt. Col. Dick Parker and Maj. Des Crofton of Salt Spring Island (SSI Archives, Collection: Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92)

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92, Salt Spring Island received its Charter in 1931, and the Ladies Auxiliary in 1947. Free meeting rooms were made available in the local Harbour House Hotel, until the Branch raised enough money to purchase the Ganges United Church Manse in 1955. This became the centre of Legion and Auxiliary activities until the more recent move to the current branch premises in 1988. The flag pole and flag from this branch was re-located to the new Branch on Blain Road and still stands proudly in front of the building, which was built on land deeded to the branch by Cde E. G. (Ted) Meaden, who also deeded thousands of dollars towards the building itself.

Thank you

The Salt Spring Island Historical Society and Archives honours and remembers our veterans and their families. So many have military stories to tell and these are but a few of them. The information on this page was provided by SSI Archives volunteers who have created Remembrance Day commemorative displays for many years, usually hosted at the Legion 92 Meaden Hall. Enormous thanks to all of our volunteers, Historical Society members and contributors.

Please send your photos and stories to us for future displays - info@saltspringarchives.com


All photos courtesy Salt Spring Island Archives unless specified otherwise.