Oakville News

‘Lest We Forget’ – Reflecting on Oakville’s History this Remembrance Week

“Lest we forget.”

This phrase, most commonly associated with Remembrance Day, serves as a reminder that we must know and understand our history so that we may learn and grow from it. And, while there will be several opportunities to join in a collective Oakville commemoration this Remembrance Day, there are also several sites within town where visitors and residents can remember and reflect at any time.

Read on for a list of monuments and memorials in town.

 

Trafalgar Memorial

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Located within the vast and beautifully landscaped Trafalgar Memorial Park, the Trafalgar Memorial is dedicated to the men and women of Trafalgar Township who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

Built in 2005, the memorial replaced the original Trafalgar Memorial Hall, which stood at the corner of Dundas St. and Trafalgar Rd. from 1949-1999. Interestingly, the current memorial pays homage to the old Hall, featuring an arch made to resemble the Hall’s entrance, as well as a garden wall built to mimic its shape.

 

George’s Square

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Visitors to Downtown Oakville need only take a short walk north to discover a beautiful tribute to Oakville’s servicemen and women. The George’s Square Cenotaph and Memorial, located on Trafalgar Rd., is a multi-part memorial that recognizes Oakville’s Veterans from 1914 to the present day.

The central cenotaph honours Oakville residents who died in service to the country, featuring the names of well-known World War I battles like Ypres, Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge. Surrounding the cenotaph are three walls built to commemorate Oakville residents who served in World War I, World War II and post-WWII military operations.

 

Tannery Park

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The first thing you’ll likely notice during a visit to Tannery Park (aside from its breathtaking view of Lake Ontario and Oakville Harbour) is a massive orange spire jutting skyward. Look further, though, and you’ll uncover a truly fascinating piece of Canadian history.

Built to resemble the centre of a compass rose, the spire (which lights up at night) is a monument to the HMCS Oakville, a naval vessel that distinguished itself during World War II. Christened in Oakville on Nov. 5, 1941, the Oakville was commissioned to the navy later that month. The christening ceremony is said to have been the largest of any Royal Canadian Navy ship during the war.

In August of 1942, the Oakville helped to defeat the German U-boat U-94 during an escort mission in off the coast of Cuba. Two Oakville sailors then boarded the German ship, fought off two German sailors, captured the remaining crew and narrowly escaped the sinking vessel. You can read the full, fascinating tale here, and you can visit the park for more information on the HMCS Oakville and its connection to the town.

 

Bronte Cenotaph

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The Bronte Cenotaph, located in lakeside Bronte Village, recognizes those who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. The monument stands in Chris Vokes Memorial Park, named after Major-General Christopher Vokes, who distinguished himself in World War II before moving to Oakville, where he died at the age of 80.

Major-General Vokes took part in the invasion of Italy during the war, even leading the 1st Canadian Infantry Division at the Battle of Ortona in December 1943. He then participated in the invasion of Germany in 1944, and served as General Officer Commanding the Canadian Army Occupation Force in Europe after the war ended.

While the park is dedicated to Major-General Vokes himself, the Bronte Cenotaph within it stands as a tribute to all who served, and as a constant reminder, “Lest we forget.”

 

We hope that you’ll take some time to explore Oakville’s history at these sites. To learn more about Oakville’s past, please consult the following sources:

Oakville Museum

Oakville Historical Society

Bronte Historical Society

Trafalgar Township Historical Society