Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest we Forget

As time goes on, one of the themes which will develop in this blog are connections between the current life in the Annapolis Royal area and events and activities of our past. Today is a good example as it is Remembrance Day in Canada.

Earlier today, I attended the memorial service at the Annapolis Royal branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. While I was there I had a chance to reflect on today being the 90th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I. I also had a chance to think about one of our region's war dead in terms of current activities in this area.

Walter Willett Pickup was the son the the Honourable Samuel W.W. Pickup, a member of the Legislative Assembly for Annapolis. As the son of a prominent family, Walter would have had an interesting youth growing up at the end of the golden age of sail in Nova Scotia. Ships would have regularly landed on the Annapolis and Granville waterfronts bringing treasures from all over the world. His family would have made regular trips to the provincial capital in Halifax. When World War I started, Walter answered the call. He served as a Lieutenant with the Royal Montreal Infantry as they made their way through France. Life in the trenches was a long way from the peaceful existence on the Granville shore. In April 1917, Walter fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of Canada's greatest military victories. This victory came at a cost as Walter was one of 3598 Canadians killed in the fighting with another 7004 injured. Walter Willett Pickup died on April 9, 1917. A memorial stone was placed in the Stony Beach Cemetery in Granville Beach, Nova Scotia.

Today, Walter's childhood home in Granville Ferry is undergoing a significant restoration project thanks to Leslie Langille. Once one of the most interesting homes in Granville Ferry, the Pickup house had fallen on hard times in recent years. In fact, the front sills were rotten, windows were broken and the building had an overall disheveled look. The house is now on the verge of coming back to its original glory. I have included an image of the work in progress at the top of this post. I find great pleasure in the fact that the home of one of the fallen at Vimy Ridge is being restored.

Perhaps more than any other community in Canada, Annapolis Royal has a military past. We live in the most fought over community in Canada. No fewer than 15 battles have been fought here but most of these took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In fact, these battles took place so long ago that they are well outside the memories of anyone but those interested in history. Despite this, Annapolis Royal was indeed a hotbed for the colonial struggle to control North America. The most obvious and enduring symbol of the military presence in Annapolis Royal is Fort Anne National Historic Site which officially ended its military service in 1854. If we look for them, connections exist not only to our colonial wars but to battles fought by Annapolitans far away from Annapolis County. The image at the bottom of this post is the cenotaph in Annapolis Royal.

Lest we Forget,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Ryan, for a thoughtful piece. Leslie is to be commended for the work on restoring a marvellous property.
    Anne C.