Canadian National War Memorial - History and Facts | History Hit

Canadian National War Memorial

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Canadian National War Memorial commemorates losses from World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

Peta Stamper

29 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Canadian National War Memorial

The Canadian National War Memorial commemorates losses from World War One and, since 2000, located in Canada‘s capital, Ottowa.

The Canadian National War Memorial history

Before the First World War had ended, Canadian Prime Minister Robert Border in 1915 expressed his desire that some splendid monument should be erected to commemorate the casualties of the conflict. There was some opposition to the idea, primarily concerning cost as the negotiations continued throughout the Great Depression. However, in 1918 the Canadian War Memorial Fund was initiated to memorialise the Canadian contribution to the war.

In 1926, Vernon March’s design was selected; his theme reflected uniformed figures passing through an arch but without glorifying war, instead their attitude eager to respond to the call. The detail was immense, right down to the buttons and straps on the uniforms, March was guided through his wax figures which were cast in bronze at his foundry. The monument was completed in 1932 by March’s six brothers and sister after his death in 1930.

While the cabinet continued to argue over the location and cost, the arch was constructed, and the memorial was finally dedicated in Confederation Square in May 1939 by King George VI. War with Germany was again looming, and some questioned the symbolism of the National War Memorial as it de facto represented all Canadian wars casualties.

After successive attempts to create different monuments, in 1982 the Canadian National War Memorial was re-dedicated for World War Two and the Korean war, and again in 2014 for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Second Boer War.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in 2000. The site had sentries posted from April through November after reports of urination, skateboarding and bicycles were seen on the site. A shooting in 2014 resulted in the death of sentry Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

The Canadian National War Memorial today

Today you can visit the towering granite cenotaph located in Ottawa, guarded by sentries. The March memorial is particularly moving when seen at night, light up dramatically to cast shadows on the arch. The site has a strong reflective atmosphere despite being surrounded by the bustle of Ottowa daily life.

Getting to The Canadian National War Memorial

The Canadian National War Memorial is located in central Ottowa. If using public transport, the closest bus stop is Elgin/Wellington on bus routes 5 – 18, 57, 61, 75 and 114, which includes Gray Line Tour buses.

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