REGINA – The first World War changed the face of the world, Canada and Saskatchewan.
Monday marks 100 years since the start of Canada’s involvement in the Great War.
“Young and enthusiastic Canadians set out for Europe, confident that the war would end quickly and they’d be home by Christmas. They had no idea of the horrors to come,” said Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield, at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary on Saskatchewan legislative grounds.
Over 60,000 Canadians would not return home alive, including 6,400 from Saskatchewan.
According to the commander, for all the army in western Canada, the impact from WWI is still felt today.
“A lot of the trouble that we see in the Middle East and that area is a result of the fallout of the post-war settlement,” said Brigadier-General Wayne Eyre, commander of 3 Division.
“It’s very important to understand that context, that history, but also recognize and understand our own history.”
Saskatchewan’s war memorial project began in 1988 with the names of about 5,000 Saskatchewan soldiers who passed away. On Monday, 1,200 more names were added to the list of WWI casualties.
“We thought we had everybody. But little did we know people went from Saskatchewan over to Manitoba and signed up there, or in Alberta to sign up, or home to England and signed up. So we missed a whole bunch,” said Terry Lyons, chair of the Saskatchewan war memorial committee.
The province’s war memorial on the legislative grounds is unique in Canada.
“Nowhere else in Canada is there a memorial that commemorates the province’s war dead,” said Jason Quilliam, chief of protocol for the province.
“As a man who served in the military, who went to Afghanistan, who fought for Canada, it’s all about stepping in the shoes of my forefathers.”
The ceremony also included the premiere of the “Saskatchewan March”, which was a song commissioned by a Regina composer for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
“What a great community of people that we have here (in Saskatchewan) and this march celebrates that,” explained composer David L. McIntyre.