The "Canadian", as it is commonly called, stands at the Kerselarekruispunt ("Vancouver Corner") of the Brugseweg and Zonnebekestraat in Sint-Juliaan (St. Julien).
The statue may rightly be called one of the most beautiful monuments of the
region where the front had once been. The monument stands on a square plateau
on a base of an arch-shaped extension on either side in a park of roses,
conifers and junipers.
It is a white granite column of over 10 metres high, with the bust of a Canadian soldier wearing a helmet at the top, who seems to be meditating on the fate of his friends who have died in battle ("The brooding soldier"). His head is bowed and he stands heading in the direction of the place from where the chlorine gas came on 22 April 1915. His folded hands are resting on an upside-down rifle: the butt upwards and the barrel in the ground. This "Arms reversed" position is the traditional military salute to soldiers killed in battle. "CANADA" is written on the front of the monument.
Panels with a summary, in English and French, of the contribution that the Canadians made during the Second Battle of Ypres are fixed on the sides of the column: "This column marks the battlefield where 18,000 Canadians on the British left withstood the first German gas attacks the 22nd - 24th April 1915. Two thousand fell and lie buried nearby." The inscription "... fell and lie buried nearby" replaces the former inscription "... fell and lie buried here". The latter was somewhat misleading because the casualties lie buried in the cemeteries nearby and not, as is often supposed, under the memorial.
At the foot of the column, on the right, is the name of the designer and the
year in which the monument was designed: F.C. Clemeshaw 1921. Frederick Chapman
Clemeshaw from Regina (Province of Saskatchewan) was himself in the Canadian
expeditionary army in France and Belgium. He continued as an architect after the
war. He died in 1958.
The stone for the shaft came from the quarries of the Vosges. The bust was carved in Brussels.
Pointers showing the following places have been carved in the stones of the circle around the column: Ypres, Hooghe, Zonnebeke, Passchendaele, Poelcapelle en Langemarck. These are the places that are particularly important in the battle involving the gas attacks.
The original bushes and soil under the monument came from Canada. Because the
Belgian people donated the site to the Commonwealth, you are on Canadian soil
here, literally and figuratively.
The bushes have been cut in the form of artillery grenades and the low bushes on the sides of the plateau symbolise the unevenness caused by the grenade funnels.
The monument was unveiled at 11 a.m. on Sunday, 8 July 1923. The ceremony was attended by HRH the Duke of Connaught (brother of the British king) and the Leopold, who was Prince Leopold of Belgium at that time. This was the first time that soldiers also stood with arms reversed on the corners of the plateau, just like the Canadian.
Open every day from sunrise to sunset
Parking: beside the monument in Zonnebekestraat
Guides available from the Tourist Office on application