Vancouver History: Victory Square

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

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Victory Square to me means remembrance as each year on November 11th the city gathers to remember and honor those who gave their lives for this country. However while searching through my favourite local source, Vancouver History, I found out a bit more about this monument.

“April 27, 1924: The Cenotaph at Vancouver’s Victory Square was unveiled in a ceremony presided over by Mayor William Reid Owen. A memorial to Vancouver’s soldiers who died in France, its inscription reads: “Their name liveth for ever more / Is it nothing to you—All ye that pass by.”

The site was originally outlined in 1886 by Lauchlan Hamilton who surveyed much of Vancouver and named many of its streets. The cenotaph itself is 33 feet high and made of Nelson Island granite [War Monuments in Canada]

Over the years it has hosted numerous events, and has seen many protests and demonstrations.

In 1931, during the Great Depression, the British Columbia Government established work camps for single, unemployed men throughout the province. In these isolated camps, workers laboured for 44 hours a week, 6 days a week, for 20 cents a day plus room in board, often in substandard conditions. Frustrated with the work conditions, these workers organized and formed the Relief Camp Workers’ Union in 1933, which struggled for the rights of the workers…

…In April 1935, approximately 2,000 workers left the camps and congregated in Vancouver, beginning a general strike to protest the low wages and camp conditions. Throughout the General Strike, Victory Square was a frequent rallying point for the workers. On April 23, 1935, workers demonstrated at the Hudson’s Bay store and were dispersed and arrested by police. The workers assembled in Victory Square. From the steps of the Daily Province Building at 198 West Hastings Street (where Victory Square Law Office is located), Mayor Pat McGeer read the Riot Act to the crowd to disperse them. [Victory Square Law Office]

On September first the corner of Cambie and Hastings will be alive with entertainment during the Victory Square Block Party [Only Magazine] [Facebook Event]. It will be worth checking out this site not only for its historical significance but also to celebrate the community around it.

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