The West Vancouver Memorial Library opened its doors on November 11, 1950 as the official War Memorial, dedicated as a living monument and an everlasting commemoration to the gallant men who sacrificed their lives in World War II.
The Library Committee expressed the reasons why the Library would qualify as a fitting tribute to the fallen soldiers of West Vancouver as follows:
"A public library exemplifies the spirit and meaning of free democratic institutions. Its shelves are open to writers of all opinions. It is free from political influence. Its services are available to all classes of society and all economic, racial or religious groups. One of the first acts of the totalitarian states was to purge the libraries of all volumes expressing enlightened democratic principles. As a memorial to our fallen, we submit that a public library is uniquely suitable."
Research to remember
In the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, our Library's Youth Department began a project to identify and research the 91 fallen soldiers from the First and Second World Wars whose names are inscribed on the cenotaph in West Vancouver's Memorial Park.
Funded by a grant from the World War Commemorations Community Fund from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Library partnered with West Vancouver Schools and the Royal Canadian Legion to provide high school students with the opportunity to participate in this research using primary sources.
The first stage of this project is now complete, and research packages on 24 soldiers — each with a brief history on the soldier; questions to guide further reading; and copies of real papers, documents and photos from local soldiers' service records — will be on display in the Main Hall this Remembrance Day.
The magnificent stained glass window "Harmony" in the Library's foyer was created by John Henry Dearle in 1931.
It is a reproduction of Sir Frank Dicksee's painting of the same name currently housed at the Tate Gallery in London. Dearle, the master craftsman for Morris & Co. in England, designed the nine feet tall window as a commission piece for Henry Athelstan Stone of Vancouver as a memorial to his son.
"Harmony" was presented to the West Vancouver Memorial Library in 1950 by the officer's sister. The inscription reads "To the Memory of Lieut. Horace Gordon Stone, only son of Henry A. and Beatrice H. Stone of the city, who died in Active Service December 15, 1918."
Explore the history of Harmony - digital.westvanlibrary.ca
Inside the Main Hall of the Library facing Marine Drive is the memorial shrine. The shrine includes the glass and wood lectern that houses the "Book of Remembrance" flanked by two commemorative flags. The Duncan Lawson Chapter of the I.O.D.E. presented the West Vancouver Memorial Library with the silken Union Jack in 1958. Above the lectern hang three pictures. The two drawings from the early 1940s "The Unknown Woman Warrior" and "Unknown Soldier" were gifts to the Library from the artist Unity Bainbridge. In the centre hangs the Canadian Red Ensign, the flag under which the Canadian Army fought.
BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE
The West Vancouver Library Committee commissioned the "Book of Remembrance" to record the Honour Roll of the 70 names of West Vancouver men who gave their lives in World War II. The hand-illuminated book was lovingly created by Miss Marion Morham Grigsby, a West Vancouver artist and one of the few Canadian artists trained in the ancient art. To this day, the pages of the "Book of Remembrance" are turned monthly so that the names inscribed may be viewed.
The Book of Remembrance has been digitized as part of our Historical Photographs collection and can be found in our digital collection.
REMEMBRANCE DAY TEA
Since 1975, the Friends of the West Vancouver Memorial Library have hosted an annual open house following the Remembrance Day Service at the Memorial Arch. The open house provides an opportunity for the community to view the Book of Remembrance and the Library's historical displays, to join in a patriotic sing-along, and to enjoy a warm refreshment.
Across the street from the West Vancouver Memorial Library at 1900 Marine Drive is the Memorial Arch and Memorial Park. Unveiled in 1925, the Memorial Cenotaph was constructed in memory of those who lost their lives in World War I. In 1979, two granite plinths, with names of those who lost their lives in World War II, were installed in front of the cenotaph. Each year, the West Vancouver Branch 60 of the Royal Canadian Legion hosts a Remembrance Day Service with a parade, laying of wreaths, and ceremonial proceedings.