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Roads of Remembrance

For the week of Monday, August 28, 2017

On August 28, 1994, a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque was unveiled at the Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Leading to the Woodlawn Cemetery, the tree lined road was created in 1923 as a memorial to fallen soldiers and is the last intact Canadian example of once widespread “Roads of Remembrance.”

The Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue in Saskatoon is lined with 112 mature elm trees and ends in a commemorative cairn
© Parks Canada, 2003

In Canada after the First World War, Roads of Remembrance became popular commemorative projects among women’s groups and patriotic associations from Victoria to Thunder Bay. Long straight boulevards were chosen to recall country roads in France and trees were planted to symbolize life. Families of soldiers could dedicate one of these trees to a loved one with a plaque.

Mrs. A.H. Hanson and Mrs. Jean Jarvis, members of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), led the effort to establish the Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue in Saskatoon. In May 1922, the IODE proposed the project to the city and started a campaign for public support and funding. Eight thousand people gathered on June 17, 1923, to watch the dedication of the first trees. In honour of soldiers who served in the Second World War, a further 42 trees were planted on August 23, 1942. The IODE maintained and managed the site until the city took over in the 1980s.

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Every year on October 7, the community gathers for a dedication ceremony at the cairn
© Parks Canada

Today, over 1,200 trees in the Woodlawn Cemetery are dedicated to soldiers. Due to its association with the cemetery, the Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue has avoided the effects of urban development which have impacted other commemorative roads in Canada.

The Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue is a national historic site and the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire is a national historic event. In 2017, we continue to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War. To learn more about remembrance, read Lest We Forget and Canadian Soldiers United at Vimy in the This Week in History archives.

Follow us on Twitter @ParksCanada, and be sure to visit the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada webpage. Explore Canada 150!

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