The Township of Esquimalt officially kicked off a year of remembrance Thursday when Mayor Barb Desjardins unveiled a First World War memorial tree plaque at Lampson Street School.
The plaque draws attention to elm trees that were planted around the school in 1917 to honour Esquimalt students killed in action during the First World War. The tree plantings were part of a cross-Canada initiative during the war to honour soldiers.
The event forms part of the township's commitment to remembering the sacrifices of those who fought on the centennial of the First World War.
“Telling everyone about these trees through this plaque is long overdue, in fact 97 years overdue,” Desjardins said.
Originally trees were planted for four soldiers – John Dolwer, Arthur Guest, Charles Hardie and Herbert Nankivell – killed in action. The original trees are gone but other trees were planted to remember all First World War soldiers. Those trees can be seen today along Lampson Street and Old Esquimalt Road.
“Today we honour our past,” Desjardins said. “For without the bravery of individual soldiers such as these, celebrating our present and imagining our future would be difficult.”
The plaque is a first in a series of events the township will hold to commemorate the First World War, said Ritchie Morrison, the township's communication co-ordinator.
On Sept. 4, the township will unveil the refurbishment of its First World War “trophy guns.” The artillery pieces were captured from the Germans during the war. The event at Memorial Park, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature displays, music and artifacts reminiscent of the 1914-18 period.