Lampson Plaque

Lampson Street School Memorial Tree Plaque

The Township of Esquimalt held an official unveiling of a First World War memorial tree plaque at Lampson Street School on Thursday August 14th, 2014. 

The plaque draws attention to elm trees that were planted around Lampson Street School in 1917 to honour Esquimalt students killed in action during the First World War. The tree plantings were part of a cross-Canada initiative during the First World War to honour Canada’s soldiers. 

“The plaque will help us remember why these trees are here and of the sacrifices made by many brave soldiers during the First World War,” said Mayor Barbara Desjardins.

Unveiling this plaque is part of the Township’s commitment to remembering the sacrifices of those who fought on behalf of our country on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Mayor's Event Speaking Notes at Plaque Unveiling

Thank you all for joining us today to mark the dedication of this plaque of remembrance. 

Welcome to the Township of Esquimalt if you have travelled from elsewhere. 

My name is Barbara Desjardins and I am the Mayor of the Township of Esquimalt. In a moment I will be honoured to unveil the WW1 Memorial Trees Plaque. 

But before that, I would like to acknowledge that we are within the traditional territorial lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.

I am pleased to welcome some special guests who are here to join me in this unveiling

  • Captain (Navy) Steve Waddell, CFB Esquimalt Base Commander 
  • Chief Sean Taylor of CFB Esquimalt
  • Current Esquimalt Councillors Lynda Hundleby, and Robert McKie

Unveiling this plaque is part of the Township’s commitment to remembering the sacrifices of those who fought on behalf of our country on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. 

It is 100 years almost to the day that Canada was drawn into what became one of the most significant and devastating conflicts of the 20th century.

After a series of events, on August 4th 1914 German troops invaded Belgium and Great Britain declared war on Germany. As a British Dominion, Canada, too, was now at war. 

Today, it is exactly 100 years to the day that the first contingent of local soldiers left the Township to join in the war effort.

They traveled to Vancouver and then east to Valcartier for additional training before joining in the great conflict. 

With optimism, our troops declared that they would be “home by Christmas.” British Columbia was suffering through an economic downturn at the time and the idea of putting on a uniform and taking a trip to Britian was likely an attractive option for many young men. 

Of course, a short skirmish did not come to pass. In fact our troops were involved in a horrifying confrontation of epic proportions and it would be many years before those who survived the war would come home.

As I say, many did not come home, including four young men from this very school.

They are:
John Wilton Douglas Dowler
Killed in Action April 11 1917, aged 25 years.
After attending Lampson, he attended McGill University and was an advocate for the School Cadet Program

Arthur James Guest
Killed in Action June 13 1916, aged 21 years.
At enlistment he was a brakeman with the E & N Railroad

Charles Mawer Hardie
Killed in Action October 13 1916, aged 21 years.
At enlistment he was a student at McGill University.

Herbert James Nankivell
Killed in Action October 8 1916, aged 18 years.
At enlistment he was a plumber with Cookson Plumbing Limited, Victoria.

You will find their names, along with many others, inscribed on the cenotaph at Memorial Park.

Four elm trees were planted in their honour at the entryway to the school. Those trees are now gone, but additional trees – as part of a cross-Canada initiative of remembrance - were planted to remember all of our World War 1 soldiers. These trees remain: they run along Lampson Street, and along Old Esquimalt Road. 

The plaque I am about to unveil draws attention to these trees, to help us all remember these brave soldiers – and all of the fallen -- and the sacrifices they made for our country. 

Telling everyone about these trees through this plaque is long overdue, in fact 97 years overdue.

Just a couple of years ago we held Township anniversary celebrations and our motto was “to honour our past, celebrate our present and imagine our future.”

Today we honour our past. For without the bravery of individual soldiers such as these, celebrating our present and imagining our future would be difficult indeed.

And now I would like to unveil the First World War Memorial Tree Plaque.

This is the first in a series of events the Township will be holding to commemorate the First World War. We join with the Government of Canada in recognizing the importance of preserving the memory of the conflicts of the 20th Century.

Please join us in Memorial Park for a commemorative event featuring a living history tribute and additional WW1 unveilings on Thursday September 4th.

Thank you for joining us today.