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[PHOTO] Boer War memorial commemorating Island losses at Paardeberg, Charlottetown

Boer War memorial commemorating Island losses at Paardeberg, Charlottetown

This statue standing just a bit to the east of Province House and Great George Street commemorates Prince Edward Island’s participation in the Boer War, with particular emphasis on the reverse side of the casualties among Island volunteers in the Battle of Paardeberg.

I blogged about this monument and the battle it commemorates back in 2008, and in 2009 I linked to a blog post by Jussi Jalonen describing Nordic volunteer participation in this battle on the side of the Boers.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] Forgotten Paardeberg


Boer War Monument
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

The above statue, erected in downtown Charlottetown between Province House and the Coles Building is a memorial to the lives of Prince Edward Islanders who died in the 1900 Battle of Paardeberg, fought on the very western frontier of the Orange Free State (modern Free State province) as part of the Second Boer War. and nearly bungled by the bloody-minded and incompetent military officers who managed to inflict excessive casualties on their own forces. According to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian troops acquitted themselves quite well.

On the night of 26-27 February, the Canadians were in the lead of a British attempt to seize a section of the Boer trenches by a surprise attack. At 2:00 a.m. on 27 February, the Canadians cautiously advanced in two ranks towards the Boer lines less than half a kilometre away. They had nearly reached the enemy trenches when they ran into a trip-wire and came under heavy rifle fire. The front rank returned the Boer fire while their comrades began to hack trenches out of the hard-baked earth. Suddenly, someone called out “Retire”. Men began to drop back, confusion set in, and most of the battalion returned to the start line. Only “G” and “H” Companies from the Maritimes held firm and poured fire into the Boer positions. It was not much, but it was enough to convince Cronje that his position was untenable. He surrendered later that morning.

18 Canadians died. Two, presumably, were the people whose names, given name middle name family name, were recorded on the other side of the monument. Unsurprisingly, the light footprint of this war has this monument is tucked away, much overshadowed by the much larger cenotaph to casualties of the First and Second World Wars along with the belated mention of the Korean War, facing the intersection Grafton and University Avenue, squarely in the middle of the downtown. (See below.)


Cenotaph
Originally uploaded by rfmcdpei

Written by Randy McDonald

June 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm

[PHOTO] Charlottetown cenotaph, looking north at sunset

Charlottetown cenotaph, looking north at sunset

In the above photo, I was approaching the Charlottetown cenotaph during sunset. Compare the photo I took during last summer’s trip, or better yet this 2008 post.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

[PHOTO] Charlottetown Cenotaph, looking north

Charlottetown Cenotaph, looking north

The Charlottetown Cenotaph faces north onto University Avenue, from the rear of Province House.

Constructed on July 16, 1925, in memory of all from the province who gave their services in the day of our country’s need.

This monument was designed by sculptor G.W. Hill and cost $16,000; $11,500 paid for by the city and the remainder by public donation. Additional lettering was added at a later date to recognize WWII and the Korean conflict.

Compare my 2008 post, pairing the cenotaph with the Boer War monument hidden on the other side of the provincial legislature.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 31, 2014 at 7:21 pm

[LINK] “Magersfontein, December 11th”

Over at the Power and the Money, Jussi Jalonen writes about Finland’s supportive relationship to the Afrikaners in the Boer War and how this support both reflected and shaped Finnish national identity, even though this participation’s only legacy are news articles about some minor ceremonies that could well take the ordinary Finn by surprise.

Why did independent Finland celebrate a battle fought in a British colonial conflict in South Africa? Simple: Finnish volunteers had fought in the battle as soldiers of the Scandinavian Corps of the Boer forces. The Scandinavian Corps was founded in Pretoria on September 23rd, 1899, supposedly as a testimony of loyalty felt by the Scandinavian immigrants towards the South African Republic. It included 118 men; 48 Swedes, 24 Danes, 19 Finns, 13 Norwegians and 14 other miscellaneous nationalities, mainly Germans and Dutch. In addition, three Swedish women served as nurses in a separate ambulance unit. The Scandinavians fought in the siege of Mafeking and the battles of Magersfontein and Paardeberg; of these, Magersfontein was the most significant.

[. . .]

The first one is the impact of migration on war, both civil and interstate. Those Finns who volunteered to fight in the Boer forces were, of course, immigrants, people who had come to the gold fields of Witwatersrand in search of wealth and a better life. Some had arrived directly from Finland, others came via United States. The uptick in immigration to the Transvaal had been one of the proximate causes of the war, and the British guest-workers and settlers — the so-called “uitlanders” — formed a fifth column through which the British Empire sought to strengthen its grip over the Boer republic.

[. . .]

The Boer resistance against the British Empire set an example for national movements of the time. Both Sun Yat-Sen and Arthur Griffith paid special attention to the Boer struggle. This explains the Finnish fascination with the Boers. At the time of the war, the Grand-Duchy of Finland had become a target of Russian imperial reaction. The February Manifesto of 1899 began a Russian attempt to abrogate Finnish autonomous institutions and integrate it into the Russian Empire. The Boer resistance to Britain aroused sympathy in beleaguered Finland, and the participation of the Finnish volunteers in the battle on the Boer side became as a source of pride. Arvid Neovius, one of the organizers of the underground opposition to Russia, wrote an article where he spoke of the “intellectual guerrilla warfare” and argued for modelling Finnish passive resistance to Russia on Boer hit-and-run-tactics. The South African national anthem became a popular protest song that eventually found its way into Finnish schoolbooks. Finnish participation in another country’s war of national liberation was very much alive in 1924, only seven years after independence, and long before recognition of the sins of apartheid clouded the European view of the Afrikaner “liberation struggle.”

The Battle of Paardeberg, it’s worth noting, is the one commemorated by Charlottetown’s Boer War memorial. It’s interesting how the Boer War had its own influence on Canadian nationhood, by making Canadians–not only French Canadians–consider their relationship with an empire that would get involved in controversial bloody conflicts like the Boer War.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

[PHOTO] Photos of old: Charlottetown PE, September 2002

Over at Facebook I’ve an album featuring some photos that I took around Charlottetown, capital of Prince Edward Island, in 2002. They were digitized after I took them, but these images are very, very, low-resolution. We’re talking about pictures that amount to dozens of kilobytes at most.

Below are a few of the most notable images, with brief explanations.


Me, in front of Province House
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

Province House
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

Province House is the seat of Prince Edward Island’s provincial legislature, and a major historical site as the place where the founders of Canada met in a conference in 1864.


Veterans’ memorial
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

This monuments commemorates veterans of the First and Second World Wars, as well as of the Korean War.


The Confederation Centre of the Arts
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

The Confederation Centre, built in typical blocky 1960s style, is a combined art gallery and theatre complex, the last hosting the famed musical Anne of Green Gables.


Victoria Row
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

Victoria Row is a short stretch of Richmond Street that’s a small pedestrian mall in summer, with upscale cafes and craft shops.


Boer War memorial
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

This commemorates the Prince Edward Islanders who died on behalf of Empire in the Boer War’s 1900 Battle of Paardeberg. I blogged about it at length here last year.


St. Dunstan’s Cathedral
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

This imposing building, located just south of Province House, is the centre of Roman Catholicism on Prince Edward Island.


Looking at Charlottetown harbour’s moorings
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

Looking north along the harbour
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

Charlottetown’s harbour can be quite photogenic.


Ceremony in front of UPEI’s Main Building
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

I don’t know what the ceremony was for, but I do know that the Main Building houses the English, Anthropology, and History departments which provided me with the skills necessary to eventually win my degrees.


A stubbly field
Originally uploaded by
rfmcdpei

Still inside Charlottetown city limits and across from my home, this field exists, regularly farmed and annually rotated.

The rest of the album is hosted on Facebook, and is open to the public. Come, see!

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm