by Marilyn Snedden
War Memorial commissioned by Alexander Rosamond and sculpted by R. Tait McKenzie
A recent donation to Archives Lanark by Phyllis Storey included several postcards depicting the unveiling of the sculpture, “The Volunteer”created by Tait McKenzie as a war memorial for the town of Almonte. They were very impressive, showing a huge crowd and masses of flowers on the memorial.A search on the microfilm of the Almonte Gazettes at the Almonte Public Library revealed a proclamation in the Sept.9 th , 1923 edition.
I hereby proclaim that Tuesday,eleventh day of Sept., 1923 after 12 o’clock noon,shall be a half holiday ,and order that all places of business be closed in order that all may attend the unveiling ceremony at the Memorial erected to the soldiers from Almonte who fell in the Great War
The following week there was a full page coverage of the event under the heading “IMPRESSIVE WAS THE CEREMONY AT ALMONTE TUESDAY. Parts of the story follow:
Mayor Thoburn presided and Major General Sir Archibald G. Macdonnell and General Hill,D.C.O. represented the militia department. Mayor Thoburn called upon Mrs.Alex G.Rosamond to unveil the statue ,which she did, hoisting the flag to half mast. Then the guard of honour presented arms ,and the Last Post was sounded by Then the guard of honour presented arms ,and the Last Post was sounded by Bugler McLean. Rev W .H. Green, Rector of St. Paul’s Church, of which the late Lieut. Rosamond was a member, read the dedicatory prayer, followed by a minute of silent prayer.
Alexander G. Rosamond , filled with high resolve, enlisted in 1914 as a private in the Sportsman Battalion and it was only when the dearth of officers became acute that he consented to take a commission. He went to France in December of 1915,and saw active service from then until he was killed at the Battle of Courcelette on September 15 th , 1916.
He had made his will prior to going overseas,but after going overseas,he made a codicil thereto and amongst the bequests in that codicil was the following: I instruct my executors to erect in some promising place in the Town of Almonte, a permanent memorial to all those who lost their lives in the present war who were from the Town of Almonte,Township of Ramsay and surrounding district.
The monument has been erected by his executors to carry out the bequest contained in his will. There are forty-eight names on the monument. The Town gave the land on which it is erected for the purpose of the Monument.
The figure of the monument represents a Canadian volunteer and was designed by the noted sculptor, R. Tait McKenzie,a native of Almonte. He was born here in 1867,the son of the late Rev. Wm. McKenzie, for many years the rector of St. John’s Presbyterian Church. He received his public and high school education in Almonte and graduated from McGill. Both he and Mrs.McKenzie were at the unveiling.
At the conclusion of General Macdonnell’s speech,the Band struck up “O Canada” and heads were bared as wreaths were laid on the monument. The school children led the way and after them came representatives from the different societies in town,and the representatives of the dead soldiers and last of all, Mrs.Alex G.Rosamond and her four daughters,and Mrs. James Rosamond,the mother of the late Lieut. Rosamond.
Among the societies and others whose flowers were placed on the pedestal were:Women’s Insitute, I.O.D.E, Rebekahs,Sons of England,Sons of Scotland, Alpha Lodge of Oddfellows, Mississippi Lodge A.F. & A.M., Alexandra Club, Girl Guides,L.O.L., the Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Church, the Methodist church, the Town Council, Almonte and Ramsay Board of Trade, Daughters and Maids of the Empire, St.Andrew’s Society, G.W.V.A., Mayor Thoburn, the Rosamond Woolen Co.,Almonte Cricket Club and very many others.
Crowd at the 1923 dedication of the Almonte War Memorial