In 1914, Canadian Grant Lochhead was detained at Prisoner of War Camp, Ruhleben in Germany for the duration of the First World War. Grant had just finished his PhD at the University of Leipzig, but did not succeed in leaving Germany before war broke out. Upon returning to Canada his experiences were recounted in two publications, The Ottawa Naturalist and the MacDonald College Magazine.
What was Ruhleben?
Ruhleben (German for "quiet life") was a prison camp located at an old horse racing track outside of Berlin, where approximately 5,000 men from Allied nations were interned. At the start of the war, the camp's conditions were poor, but they improved with time as communities within the camp were established. Kenneth I. Helphand, author of Defiant Gardens, described the camp as being "a mud-filed swamp when it rained, cold, with poor latrines and wretched food." German soldiers acknowledged that the prisoners behaved better if left to their own devices; thus the camp was self-governed. The internees created an "English village," where there were tradesmen, barber shops, shoe makers, and carpenters. They even used British street names, such as Bond and Fleet Street.
Grant Lochhead's Story
When the First World War began, Grant left the Leipzig station for Holland with a group of fellow Britons. Their journey was interrupted by German authorities and the group was taken to a nearby prison. Grant explained that:
When we were welcomed by the police officials we were forced to submit to an exceedingly thorough search, and were finally ushered to our cells. To elaborate the feeling one has when the bolt of the cell- door is shot to for the first time is unnecessary, and would only be appreciated by those who have done time.
One week later he was given a pass to leave. While on board a train to Holland (for the second time) Grant was arrested at a station near the Dutch border. He was then taken to the Schloss Hotel where eighty men - consisting of Britons, Frenchmen, Russians, and Belgians - were kept in two rooms under heavy guard by German forces in the hot month of August. Two weeks afterward he was taken to a military prison in Hanover, where "one did have the luxury of a cot to one's-self." After one month's stay, he was brought to a camp where the Germans held detained Alsatians.
After only one week in the Hanoverian prison, he was liberated by the American consul, at which point his belongings were returned, with the unfortunate deduction of "one mark and fifty pfennig per day for 'board and lodging.'" For one month he and the other liberated men lived in the town under strict police supervision. Then, on Nov. 6th, a general order was issued stating that British subjects in Germany were to be interned at Ruhleben in retaliation for England's harsh treatment of German prisoners.
For the duration of their stay at Ruhleben, internees slept in a sparsely furnished horse stable. Grant remembered that, "in the course of time much work was done by the prisoners themselves in endeavoring to make their quarters a little more habitable." He also mentioned that those in England were helping to feed the camp by sending weekly food parcels. The parcels were a much welcomed form of aid, especially since the camp's menu offered meager and bland rations. Grant explained that:
The official menu was simple and the daily allowance meager — one-fifth of a loaf of bread, coffee substitute for break- fast, soup for dinner, more coffee substitute with an occasional slice of sausage of doubtful derivation for supper.
Another internee wrote about the food in his journal lamenting, "Cabbage soup again, third time in seven days."
Grant also spoke of the diverse population of internees, ranging from, "mercantile marine illegally detained with their ships before war was actually declared, [...]students, business men, jockeys, trainers, tourists over on a week's holiday trip, and men representing occupations.."  and that:
One can easily imamine [sic] the little domestic squabbles which might arise when a musician, a jockey, a fisherman, a bank manager, a theological student and a horse-dealer found themselves living together in a space 4 yards each way. All the while, however, a settling process was evident, and kindred spirits gravitated slowly together so that finally congenial people arranged to live together in time. 
As mentioned above, the camp's internal affairs were left to the prisoners, making it self-governed (to a point). When prisoners realized they were to remain there for a long time, they created committees and clubs, ranging from drama and gardening, to art. A community garden was tended with the intent of growing vegetables for consumption. In 1916 the Ruhleben Horticultural Society was formed and membership reached 943 men. They procured many seeds from the Royal Horticultural Society in London. They also brightened up the camp by growing: lobelia, pyrethrum, begonias, antirrhinums, godetia, and many other beautiful flowers. Internees also taught each other physics, chemistry, and biology in laboratories. Grant explained that:
The worst feature of life in such a place was not to be found in the physical discomforts and annoyances, but in the dull, unending monotony of life with the uncertainty which over-shadow- ed everything — this and the enforced in- activity when our fellow-countrymen were doing so much outside. 
Grant's former botany professor, Tubeuf, sent his student microscopes and other equipment for use while he was a prisoner.
For Grant and the other prisoners, their liberation came as a surprise; when they received word of their freedom they were carrying on with "life as usual." They were rehearsing the Christmas play when the news arrived that they were to be freed. Grant returned to Canada, where he had a successful career as the Head of Bacteriology at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa.
For researchers interested in learning more about Grant Lochhead and his time at Ruhleben you can visit Library Archives Canada, where they have a fonds consisting of his thesis, journals from 1914-1972, and photographs of the prisoner of war camp. Click here to learn more.
Unknown Author, "Microscopy and Biological Activities at Ruhleben" The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol. XXXII, No. 5, November 1918; Grant Lochhead, "Experiences in German Prison Camps," MacDonald College Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 3: February-March 1919
 Kenneth Helphand, Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2006) 114.
Grant Lochhead, "Experiences in German Prison Camps," MacDonald College Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 3: February-March 1919
 Elgin Strub-Ronayne, "Cabbage soup again"-the hardships & resilience of men held in Germany's Ruhleben prison camp', in John Lewis-Stempel, Where the Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson), 219.
 Grant Lochhead, "Experiences in German Prison Camps," MacDonald College Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 3: February-March
 John Lewis-Stempel, Where the Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War, 221.
 Grant Lochhead, "Experiences in German Prison Camps," MacDonald College Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 3: February-March
Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library, "Ruhleben Horticultural Society," https://www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/libraries-at-rhs/events-exhibitions/ruhleben-horticultural-society
B. Elliott. "A Tale of Two Societies: the Royal Horticultural Society and the Ruhleben Horticultural Society In the Occasional Papers from RHS Lindley Library, Volume 12, September 2014, Horticulture and the First World War
At the turn of the twentieth century, numerous Canadians were concerned with civic beautification. A beautification movement erupted out of a reforming zeal initiated by prohibitionists, suffragettes and evangelists. Gardening became a quest for "good citizenship, improvement, social remedy, morality, material progress."  Horticultural duty, gardeners believed, would "purify home life...promote a greater love of home...and thereby lay the foundation of a patriotism worthy of the land we possess."  Soon after, that patriotism was tested when the First World War erupted. Citizens all throughout Canada began growing crops for wartime food production; horticultural Societies urged their members to plant backyard gardens. John Webber, head of the Hamilton Horticultural Society, spoke of the desirability of using all backyard space to grow vegetables, something he viewed as a patriotic duty.  Vacant Lot Associations were organized with the mission of getting the unemployed, as well as returned soldiers, to garden on vacant plots of land. Many of these gardens produced vegetables for the war effort. In 1917, Toronto had 798 vacant lots in cultivation, with produce valued at $40,000 (over $650,000 in 2017). 
The war resulted in an exodus of male farmers and factory workers leaving for the front. Most older women filled in for them by working in munition plants. This exodus also left space for young women to spend their summers working on farms to aid the war effort. Known as Farmerettes, these women planted, tended and harvested crops. At first, they were met with skepticism; many were deemed "city girls" who would not provide much help. This assumption proved wrong, as numerous county and city girls alike rose to the task, providing an immeasurable contribution to wartime food production. In Niagara, the Young Women's Christian Association brought women enrolled in universities and women's colleges to harvest fruit. They came from Montreal, Quebec City, and other Ontario communities. With the women's help, fruit was harvested with minimal loss. 
There were a plethora of initiatives that showed the desire of everyday citizens to pull together to aid the war effort. For some, it was as simple as planting crops in a backyard garden; for others, it meant dedicating more substantial amounts of time to farm labour. However big or small the contribution, Canadians worked hard to feed both Canadian and allied soldiers.
Thank you to Julie Bushey, Collection Management Assistant of the Grimsby Museum for selecting, scanning and sending the above images.
 Edwinna von Baeyer. Rhetoric and Roses: a History of Canadian Gardening (Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1984), 3.
 Canadian Horticulturist, May 1904, 190.
Hamilton Horticultural Society Centennial Year Book and Garden Guide, 1850-1950, 12.
 Philip F. Dodds and H.E. Markle, The Story of Ontario Horticultural Societies, 1854-1973 (Picton: Picton Gazette Publishing Company, 1973), 58.
 St. Catharines Museum. Niagara's Farmerettes. St. Catharines' Blog https://stcatharinesmuseumblog.com/2016/10/18/niagaras-farmerettes/ (accessed September 10, 2017)
Community Memories. Grown in the Garden of Canada: The History of the Fruit Industry in Grimsby, Ontario, http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?id=exhibit_home&fl=0&lg=English&ex=00000438 (accessed September 10, 2017)
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
-War Memorial in Drummondville, Quebec
“We are at any moment the sum of all our moments, the product of all our experiences” .
- A.A. Mendilow
During times of hardship, people collectively attempt to comprehend and transcend tragedies by creating commemoration sites. Canada has numerous war memorials, so many in fact that Pierre Berton commented that Canada has more Great War memorials than any other nation. This post explores the dichotomy between the ways in which local communities and government officials have chosen to commemorate dead soldiers after the Great War. Both camps worked tirelessly to build monuments that could be used as vehicles to fulfill different aims. Local communities took a bottom-up approach, building monuments as public places of mourning. Government officials, on the other hand, erected memorials as a means for building upon the nation-building narrative. These differing objectives demonstrate that war memorials are, among other things, dynamic cultural symbols. Simply put, memorials mean different things to different people. This post also examines the meanings that local communities as well as government bodies gave to these cultural relics. Lastly, it then considers how those multiple meanings highlight a more encompassing vision of war memorials in Canada.
Places Where People Could Mourn
Throughout the duration of the Great War over six hundred thousand Canadian men and women aided in Canada’s war effort, with sixty thousand dying from war related injuries. The shock of losing such a large number of men, as well as being visually reminded of the war when seeing thousands of visibly wounded veterans on Canadian streets, had a deep impact on society. For instance, in Ripley, Ontario two hundred and sixty men served, with thirty-three never returning home. Such large numbers meant that most citizens were directly impacted by the loss in one way or another. Mayor Charles Simms captured this sentiment in November 1921 when he expressed to Victoria’s Daily Colonist that “there is scarcely a person in the throng before me who has not lost someone, son, brother, husband or father.” This heartfelt statement starkly showcased the collective loss Canadians were experiencing.
The need for communities to bereave and remember those who perished brought them together with the task of creating “fitting tokens of respect.”  Many citizens felt a sense of duty to “sacrifice in a noble cause,” which led many communities to form local memorial committees. Shortly after the war ended, a fervor for building monuments swept across the country. One of many committees’ chief aims was to deconstruct the horrors of death by instilling new meaning, as “an abstraction, a collective sacrifice remote from individual extinction” to help justify the loss and make it psychologically bearable. War memorial committees essentially satisfied the need for collective community expression.
Communities needed to find a physical place to direct their collective trauma. Connecting memories and feelings with a physical space allowed locals to incorporate tragedy into its collective narrative. This approach to bereavement allowed community members to begin the healing process. In the article, “Sites of Hurtful Memory” Gabi Dolff-Bonekamper discussed what Sigmund Freud termed “working through.” This notion suggests a parallel between individual trauma therapy and collective work on traumatic events in history. Essentially, once a community has allowed the truth to be revealed, in this case, by public commemoration, healing seems achievable. Thus, commemoration results in citizens feeling less socially isolated in their grief. This can be witnessed, for example, by the two thousand people that attended the unveiling of a war memorial in London, Ontario during 1925 celebrations.
Communities chose to erect memorials as a means for grounding their displaced sense of loss. Military and cultural historian Jay Winter echoed this sentiment by stating that war memorials are sacred places of ritual, rhetoric, as well as ceremonies of bereavement. Fundamentally, they are places where people could mourn, and be seen mourning. Robert Shipley, author of To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials, expressed similar views by arguing that war memorials offered people a place to “visibly express their sorrow."  Winter identified these actions as an exchange, where the living admitted a degree of indebtedness to those who died in service. This exchange still occurs at yearly Remembrance Day ceremonies. Thus, it is important to consider how ritual and ceremony play a crucial role in constructing war memorials’ meaning. Philosopher John Dewey expressed that:
rite and ceremony as well as legend bound the living and the dead in a common partnership. They were esthetic but they were more than esthetic. The rites of mourning expressed more than grief… each of these communal modes of activity united the practical, the social, and the educative in an integral whole having esthetic form. 
Memorials are viewed as aesthetic symbols where the individual experience of mourning becomes intertwined with the public, social realm of the community. In this way memorial sites were converted into social havens where members came together in ritual to comfort one another and share their experiences.
Meanings inherently change over time and this is something that community members acknowledged. This change is largely due to the fact that cultural meanings are often altered with each new generation. That being said, community members felt that the lessons of the Great War were important and should be cemented in time and place in the form of a memorial. This act allowed future generations to reflect and learn from the past, something essential for identity formation. Thus, memorials work to bind present and future generations together through a collective remembering. Sir Edmund Walker captured this sentiment in 1918 when he stated:
If we do not adequately remember those who served and erect a memorial that will cause the students for generations to come to realize that this was a great moment in the history of the university [of Toronto] then we shall be absolutely unworthy of the brothers and sons of the fallen in this war. 
This statement not only united present and future University of Toronto students, but also acknowledges that the memorial would become a focal point of a collective remembrance shared by the community and nation alike. Similarly, in 1918 Dr. Sprott of Barrie, Ontario spoke of the importance of permanence when dealing with the placement of a memorial. He stated, “if we put this tablet in a building it may not be here 100 years from now. I think a statue would be more lasting.” Memorials would then represent not only the values of the day that they were erected, but also reinforce those values for future generations.
Memorials to Build a Nation
The Great War was a nation-building experience and the government believed it needed to emphasize the sacrifice to legitimize the war experience itself. Politicians worked to create a “Myth of War Experience” as a means to displace the realities of war, refashioning it into a sacred experience. This sacred experience, in turn, provided the nation with a new sense of religious feeling, which could be witnessed in the numerous religious iconographies on war memorials erected around the country. As historian George Mosse opined, “the cult of the fallen soldier became the centerpiece of the religion of nationalism after the war.” The linking and use of religious feelings and nationalism led to committees like the Ontario Advisory Committee of War Memorials being created as a means of imposing control over local memorialization. They aimed at memorializing the glory rather than the horrors of war, to instil national pride and justify the cause.
These committees saw memorials as a means to “commemorate not just the soldier but the nation” and believed that local, amateur artists were not capable of executing this aim. Canadian war historian Jonathan Vance pointed out that viewing memorials from this aesthetic standpoint misses the point of their creation. He argued that memorials were intended to express the feelings of local communities and as such should be designed and installed by them. Many communities created monuments which reflected the citizenry who resided there. For instance, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia their statue took the form of a piper, giving a nod to their Gallic roots. Such statues demonstrated that monuments reflected regional and cultural traditions. This is not to say that local memorials did not provide symbols of national pride, but rather that it was not necessarily their chief aim.
In times of insecurity and rapid change, monuments acted as material sites that served as “rally points” for a shared common memory or identity. They were places where, commemorations were performed, collective memory was reinforced and national identity was constructed. The creation of regulatory war memorial committees meant that there was control over the memorial’s messages, allowing memorials to be used as a means to unite the nation under one narrative. With this in mind, Frances Loring, convener of the War Memorial Committee of the Ontario Society of Artists, gave referrals to qualified sculptors, provided judges for design contests and assisted in choosing suitable sites for memorials to ensure “that the province did not become dotted with bad memorials.” To an even larger extent, Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence during the Great War, proposed a standard, mass-produced memorial to be installed in communities, with the only difference being the inscription of the deceased soldiers names from that particular place. Thankfully this did not occur, but it was such ideas that showcased the differences in how governments and local communities viewed monuments.
Closing the Gap: A Shared Authority
The above sections demonstrate the complex, dynamic nature of Canadian war memorials and highlight the dichotomy between the ways communities and government officials viewed them. This final section aims at reconciling both spheres to create a more encompassing picture of war memorials in Canadian society.
Both camps used war memorials as a means for reinforcing societal values. The government chose to build memorials to preserve notions of “British Liberty and Democracy.” Communities likewise used memorials as a means for keeping traditions intact. It was Nietzsche who said that monumentalism is “a protest against the change of generations and against transitions.” The Great War threatened traditional values, shaking both individual and collective understandings of community and place. Hence, memorials can be seen as mnemonic devices that expressed the values of the society they were placed in. Both sides, of course, differed on exactly what traditional values they were trying to uphold. Nevertheless, the similarity of their aims demonstrated the shared, ultimate purpose of preserving social norms and values while recognizing the immense upheaval and loss brought on by the Great War. In fact, scholar John Bodnar argued that public memory emerges from the intersection between the official (in this case government) and vernacular (community) cultural expressions. He expressed that:
public memory speaks primarily about the structure of power in society because that power is always in question in a world of polarities and contradictions and because cultural understanding is always grounded in the material structure of society itself. 
Thus, memorials’ meanings are comprised of contested approaches that involve a struggle between advocates from both sides.
The idea of contested meanings can be further understood by examining the meaning-making paradigm outlined by museum scholar Lois H. Silverman. Silverman discussed how meaning is constructed through multiple perspectives and argued that history, when viewed as a process, is an interpretation. In other words, meaning is a story or perspective that is crafted by certain people for certain ends. Thus, communication is a process in which meaning is jointly constructed through interactions between multiple groups who negotiate power and authority in the making of meaning. The government and its citizens therefore “share authority” for constructing the past’s meaning. Seen this way, Canadian War memorials are thus symbols comprised of various meanings and physical representations of struggles for contested power.
Great War memorials are important symbols that represent multiple viewpoints. The aim of their creation is important, but it does not impart an “absolute” definition. For instance, a nationalistic message might be lost on a mother who visited the memorial to grieve her deceased son. Similarly, a visitor could have stood at a monument in a grieving community and felt strong national pride. Thus, the interpretation is just as important as the monument’s original intention. War memorials’ legacies are equally important. Although their messages may have altered over the last century they still remain important symbols in Canadian culture. This fact can be witnessed at yearly Remembrance Day ceremonies. The values and lessons of the Great War enshrined in these memorials still resonate with many Canadians.
An examination of war memorials’ meaning is important because it is still a contested issue. One contemporary example is the debate over the “Mother Canada” war memorial in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. There were many citizens and politicians alike who welcomed the idea of an eighteen-meter high statue as a means to commemorate fallen soldiers who were buried overseas. Others believed that the statue, which was to be built in Green Cove National Park, would disrupt the picturesque scenery. Jane Taber of The Globe and Mail stated that many residents of Nova Scotia were not against the idea of a memorial, but that they “felt left out of the decision making process.” The issue became hotly debated and entangled in politics, resulting in Parks Canada pulling out of the project. This example showcases that stakeholders, residents and politicians should create an open-ended dialogue welcoming different perspectives. Only then will “wars” over the control for a memorial’s message be eased and a more encompassing sentiment be captured.
 Robert Shipley. To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials (Toronto: NC Press Ltd., 1987), 103.
 David Lowenthal. The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1985), 185.
 Pierre Berton, Introduction to To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials, by Robert Shipley (Toronto: NC Press Ltd., 1987), 7.
 Ibid., 49.
 George L. Mosse. Fallen Soldiers: reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 6.
 Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning (Cambridge: University Printing House, 1995), 94.
 Dolff-Bonekämper, Gabi. “Sites of Hurtful Memory.” Conservation 17, no. 2, 2002, 10.
 Shipley, To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials, 13.
 Winter acknowledged that these sites could also hold other political and aesthetic meanings, but they were most importantly seen as sites for mourning, where people grieved individually or collectively. Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning, 79.
 Shipley, To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials, 102.
 John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Penguin Group, 1934), 341.
 Shipley, To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials
 Ibid,, 89.
 Mosse, Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars, 7.
 Jonathan Vance, Death so Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997), 203.
 Vance, Death so Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War, 204.
 Shipley, To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials, 114.
 Brian S. Osborne, “Landscapes, Memory, Monuments and Commemoration: Putting Identity in its Place” Commissioned by the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Ethnocultural, Racial, Religious and Linguistic Diversity and Identity Seminar (Halifax: 2001), 15.
 Vance, Death so Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War, 204.
 Shipley, To Mark our Place: A History of Canadian War Memorials, 15.
 Friedrich Nietzche. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, trans. Ian Johnston (Virginia: Richer Resources Publication, 2010 ), 15-16.
 John Bodnar, Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992), 13.
 Ibid., 15.
 Silverman, Lois. “Making Meaning Together: Lessons from the Field of American History” in Reinventing the Museum: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift. Edited by Gail Anderson. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004: 233–242. [Reprinted from the Journal of Museum Education 18, no. 3 (Fall 1993): 235.
 Taber, Jane. “Placement of “Mother Canada” Statue has Cape Bretoners on War Footing” The Globe and Mail, March 7, 2014.
 The Canadian Press, “Parks Canada Pulls out of Mother Canada War Memorial Project,” The Huffington Post, February 5, 2016.
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