Book of Remembrance
A record of the men and women of Port Hope who participated in the Great War of 1914-1918
In 1919, a committee was established by Rev. James A. Elliott to create a written memorial of those Port Hope men and women who were actively involved in the Great War. Notices were placed in the local paper asking families of those who had given their lives to submit a brief biography, to be included with a record of service and a photograph, the latter to be permanently displayed in the Town Hall. Many were missed for a number of reasons, and are being included as we discover them.
At a public memorial service at the Port Hope Armouries on Sunday, 29 June 1919, the original book and framed photographs were presented to the Mayor and Town Council, with a copy given to the Library Board. In recent years, neither copy has been readily accessible to researchers, but both are now safely housed at the Port Hope Archives.
In August 1988, the late Canadian author and historian Timothy Findley came to speak at the Library and, during a conversation with Barbara, commented on the historical importance of the book, with the result that it was removed from the shelves for safe-keeping. In 2001, Chief Librarian Patricia Enright allowed us to transcribe it for on-line publication.
To honour the Year of the Veteran (2006), the Town commissioned Cathy Adams of Ganaraska Art to digitally reproduce the photographs, replace the backing and glass, and restore the original frame mat. The photographs appear here with the book for the first time.
The compilation of this little book has been executed as a loving tribute to the memory of the sixty-five men of Port Hope, and the immediate vicinity, who have made the final offering of a soldier in the Great War of 1914-18. It is intended to place at the disposal of the relatives of these men, and of the rising and on-coming generations of Port Hope Citizens, a few available facts concerning the men who poured out their blood willingly and heroically in defence of what we, as British subjects, value so highly - Freedom, Manhood and Justice. Memory soon fails us unless we set down the facts we desire to retain, in some permanent form. This effort, it is hoped, will do something to appreciate the dead and stimulate the living.
Unfortunately for the historian, the necessities of war compelled a very strict censorship of the letters of soldiers during the entire period of hostilities. For that reason men were unable to include information of the greatest public interest concerning their activities. Relatives have been deprived of the knowledge even of many of the engagements in which their soldiers participated, and when the censorship was lifted, they whose deeds we desire to pass on to the public of today and tomorrow, were no more. However, we have done what we could and it is believed that it can never be truthfully said that our men died neglected and remained forgotten.
To further emphasize our appreciation of the fallen, and to carry their memory forward into the coming years, to retain them as vital personalities and not as names only, their photographs, as far as available, have been gathered and mounted to be hung in a public place in one of our civic buildings. The eyes of these men, looking down upon the citizens of the present and future, will doubtless stimulate us to guard well the heritage which their blood so manfully purchased for our advantage.
This simple record is mindful not only of the dead, but of the living. From this Town and its suburbs, four hundred and seventy-six men of all ranks, joined His Majesty's Canadian Army, and actually crossed the Atlantic to participate in the Great War. All did not get to the fighting front. Some were returned from England as medically unfit for the terrible rigors of war. Some were retained as instructors in reserve battalions and others were engaged in necessary official positions at the head quarters in England. It is considered only just that the names of all men who fought, or in any way fulfilled a soldier's duty and displayed a soldier's spirit to the extent of going overseas, should have a permanent record on the honour roll of this community. It is impossible to give sketches of the lives of all the men who fought and returned to their native land, but a special place is reserved for those who won distinctions for valor and devotion on the field of battle.
Furthermore, it has been thought advisable to include some record of the citizens who had no part in actual hostilities but who sustained the spirit and ministered to the comfort and efficiency of our troops abroad. To this end, a brief summary of the organization and achievements of the Imperial Daughters of the Empire, of the Empire Tea Room, and of the Port Hope Branch of the Canadian Patriotic Fund has been included.
This booklet has been made in duplicate, one copy to be preserved in the vault of the Town Hall to secure its safe keeping, and the other to be placed in the Carnegie Library for the use of Citizens who care to refer to it.
JAS. A. ELLIOTT
Chairman of Committee
Port Hope, Jan. 1st, 1919.
In 2007, as a fund-raiser for the Port Hope Archives and to mark the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy, Barbara and I had the privilege of working on a 500-copy re-issue of the Book of Remembrance with updated information, the soldiers' photographs, letters home from the Front as published in the local newspaper, and additional photographs from the Archives' collection.
Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario