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Boer War Memorial (Montreal)

History and museums
sightseeing, attractions, history, culture, monument, sculpture

The Boer War Memorial is a monument of sculptor George W. Hill located at Dorchester Square in Downtown Montreal.



The Boer War Memorial, sculpted by George W. Hill (1862-1934), was unveiled at the Dominion Square on May 24, 1907. It is dedicated to the Montrealers who fought alongside the British during the Boer War. This statement on the dedication is not correct. The inscription on the memorial says 'In grateful recognition of the patriotism and public spirit shown by Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal in raising and equipping a regiment of horse for service in South Africa as evidence of his sympathy with the cause of imperial unity.' On the opposite side of the memorial is the inscription, 'To commemorate the heroic devotion of the Canadians who fell in the South African War and the valour of their comrades.' There is no mention of Montrealers.

It is the only equestrian statue in Montreal, and atypically, is not mounted, but restrained. The Boer War Memorial faces north, towards Mount Royal Cross, which would have been visible from the square up until 1929. Around the base of the statue, copper reliefs and the names of each battle. In 2014 the memorial was facing south-east. The Dorchester Square had been restored but the Place du Canada (containing Montreal's First World War cenotaph) was still fenced off.

The Boer War was widely unpopular in Quebec society, viewed as an imperial war. Prime Minister of Canada Wilfrid Laurier opposed the war, but ultimately compromised with the proposal for militia and volunteers en lieu of conscription.

For two decades after the war, Canadians would gather on February 27 (known in Canada as "Paardeberg Day") around memorials to the South African War to say prayers and honour veterans. This continued until the end of the First World War, when Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day) began to observed on November 11.

The four principal monuments – the others being the Robert Burns Memorial, Wilfrid Laurier Memorial, and Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Fountain – in the square are arranged to form a five equilateral cross with the kiosk towards the Dominion Square Building.

On July 8, 2009, the official first shovelful of dirt was lifted in the $23-million project to restore Dorchester Square and Place du Canada at 10 a.m. near the Boer War memorial monument.

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