The Brooding Soldier

Canadian Monument

The 'Canadian', as the statue is locally called, stands at the Kerselare crossroads ('Vancouver Corner') of the Brugseweg and Zonnebekestraat in Sint-Juliaan.

The statue is known as one of the most beautiful monuments of the front region. In a park with roses and conifers, the monument stands on a square plateau with an arched projection on each side.
It is a 10 metres high white granite column with the bust of a helmeted Canadian soldier at the top, who seems to be thinking about the fate of his fallen friends. He looks with his head bowed to the place from where the chlorine gas cloud came in April 1915. His folded hands rest on a rifle turned upside down : the butt up, the barrel in the ground. This posture 'Arms reversed' is the traditional military salute to the fallen. At the front of the column is in large letters 'CANADA'.

On the sides of the column are panels with inscriptions in English and French which are a concise summary of the Canadian contribution during the Second battle of Ypres : 'This column indicates the battlefield where 18.000 Canadians on the British left flank stood against the first German gas attacks of 22 - 24 April 1915. Two thousand fell and are buried in the vicinity'. The inscription '... fell and lie buried nearby' replaces the earlier inscription '... fell and lie buried here. The latter was somewhat misleading because the fallen are buried in the cemeteries in the vicinity and not, as is often assumed, under the memorial.

At the foot of the column, on the right, is the name of the designer and the year of design: F.C. Clemeshaw 1921. Frederick Chapman Clemeshaw from Regina (prov. Saskatchewan) fought with the Canadian expeditionary army in France and Belgium. After the war he occupied himself with architecture. He died in 1958.
The stones of the column come from quarries in the Vosges. The bust was sculpted in Brussels.

In an arch around the column, the following orientation arrows have been placed on the plateau: Ypres, Hooghe, Zonnebeke, Passchendaele, Poelcapelle and Langemarck. These are all places with a special significance in the battle of the gas attacks.

The original shrubs and the earth under the monument came from Canada. Because the Belgian population donated the land to the Commonwealth, people are standing here literally and figuratively on Canadian soil.
The shrubs have been pruned in the form of artillery shells and the low shrubs on the sides of the elevation should represent the front with the bumps created by the shell funnels.

The monument was inaugurated on Sunday 8 July 1923 at 11h00. The ceremony took place in the presence of the Duke of Connaught (brother of the British king) and Prince Leopold of Belgium. For the first time there were also soldiers on the corners of the plateau with 'arms reversed' like the Canadians themselves.