The Cenotaph

Cenotaph in its original location at the entrance to the Maple Ridge cemetery. 1936. [P01044]

After the First World War, the Hammond and Haney Women’s Institutes decided that the district needed to find a way to honor the individuals who had lost their lives in war service. The two institutes collaborated and in May 1923 a stone cenotaph was erected at the entrance gates to the Maple Ridge Cemetery, near the boundary of the two Women’s Institutes catchment areas.

The Gazette estimated almost 1000 people gathered to observe the dedication of the monument.  Services were conducted by Anglican Bishop de Pencier and, at the end of the ceremony, Reeve John A. McIver “laid a beautiful wreath at the foot of the column and the relatives of the dead soldiers deposited their floral tributes.” 

The May Queen and her entourage (all in white) and boy scouts and cubs in uniforms, all standing around or by the cenotaph at the entrance to the cemetery. The occasion is the 1936 May Day. [P01770]

From 1923 to 1939, the May Day celebrations began with a ceremony at the cenotaph. Beginning in Hammond, the parade consisting of Boy Scouts, school children, decorated vehicles and the May Queen and her entourage would stop at the Cenotaph for a quiet ceremony and laying of a wreath. They would then proceed on to the Aggie grounds.

Following the Second World War the original location was seen as inopportune. With the larger crowds at events commemorating two world wars, the cemetery entrance restricted movement and traffic would back up onto Dewdney Trunk Road. The rate of growth in the district was such that blocking Dewdney Trunk for any time at all was seen as a problem.

An additional consideration was the age of the WWI veterans and the many disabilities of those who survived WWII. Shortly after the end of WWII, the Legion outgrew its ability to meet in member’s homes. They established a premises on 224th street where they wished to marshal their parade to the Cenotaph but to go all the way to the entrance of the cemetery and back was too far for aging feet.

Cenotaph in its new location in 1953. The Aggie hall is visible in the background. [P02406]

After many long and difficult meetings with the Women’s Institutes, it was agreed to move the Cenotaph into downtown Haney in 1953, timed to coincide with the celebrations around the crowning of Queen Elizabeth.  At its new location in the Haney Memorial Park on 8th Avenue [224th Street] larger events could spill out onto the grounds of the Agricultural Hall, Haney Central Elementary and Maple Ridge High School.

The area around the Cenotaph changed dramatically with the construction of the Centennial Centre and the arena in the background. [P13319]

With the reorganization of the downtown core in 2001, the cenotaph was moved once more, just a short distance north into the rejuvenated Memorial Peace Park. The cenotaph was kept in storage for a short period of time, allowing for cleaning and restoration work, including an anti-graffiti coating.

The WWI side of the Cenotaph in its modern setting [2004] in Memorial Peace Park. City Hall, the ACT Theatre, and the Bandstand are visible in the background. [P06430]