A mystery surrounds our cenotaph in front of city hall as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The cenotaph, the word comes from the Greek meaning a monument to someone buried elsewhere, was unveiled to the public in front of city hall Nov. 6, 1966 where it was placed on a couple of steps.
It was constructed of indigenous materials: aluminum from Alcan, cedar from the Terrace area and lava from the Nass Valley. The cenotaph was raised and placed on top of a stone base sometime in the 1980s, and an honour roll plaque was added with names of those who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars.
But no one knows who did the stonework, or its approximate date. Not even local legion members.
However, the cenotaph is on the Heritage BC map of war monuments and memorials in the province.
In December 2015, Heritage BC issued a request for help to collect information about the B.C. monuments and memorials to the world wars.
Helene McRae took on this project for the Terrace Regional Historical Society and enlisted the help of planner Ken Newman because a GPS location was required, along with photos and information. All of that was then submitted via computer. The Terrace cenotaph plus all the others in the province can be seen on a map at http://www.heritagebc.ca/war-memorials-in-bc.
Below is an excerpt The Terrace Omineca Herald, Nov. 9, 1966 regarding the unveiling of the cenotaph:
An important day in the history of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 13, and the municipality of Terrace was marked on the quiet Sunday afternoon of Nov. 6 when an impressive ceremony of dedication was solemnized with the unveiling of Terrace’s cenotaph — a beautiful and lasting tribute to the fallen in World Wars One and Two and in Korea.
A colourful parade marched from the Legion headquarters to the municipal hall grounds to take part in the ceremony. In the parade were veterans of the Royal Canadian Legion, members of the Legion Auxiliary and their standard bearers, representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Terrace pipe band assisted by Kitimat pipers. Parade martial was Comrade Jack Sharples.
Reeve A. Goulet, members of the council and local citizens took part in the services, singing “O Canada” and “O God Our Help in Ages Past.” The Reverend A. P. Horsfield read the scripture. Legion president Nick Nattress included all Legionaires when he said “This should be a very proud moment in our lives.” He considered it an honour that the dedication should happen during his term of office.
“Many people have been involved in the erection of this cenotaph,” Mr. Nattress said, and particularly mentioned the Lionel executive, the municipal council, Comrade Art Bates who designed the structure, and Comrade Sid Shelby who has chaired the committee since its formation.
He expressed thanks to all who were taking part, including those who had come from Kitimat.
Mr. Nattress said “I hope that this memorial will be a constant reminder to us, the living of those who paid the supreme sacrifice for freedom — and that in some way to each of us, both young and old, it will influence our thoughts and deeds when we pass this way, and help us through the turmoil of our modern living. And as our own tribute to our fallen comrades, it can strengthen our own resolve for stronger friendship and understanding towards each other.
“If this can be so, then their sacrifice for us will not have been in vain.”