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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Military / World War I
  • Language:English
  • Pages:500
  • eBook ISBN:9781926991559

Names on a Cenotaph

Kootenay Lake Men in World War I

by Sylvia Crooks View publisher's profile page

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On cenotaphs and memorials along the shores of beautiful Kootenay Lake in the BC Interior are the names of 280 men who died on the blood-soaked battlefields of World War I amid the first deadly gas attack at Ypres, in the costly battle for Vimy Ridge and through the horrors of Passchendaele. Many of the men were fruit ranchers, mostly British immigrants who settled on the shores of the lake, along the Kootenay River, and in the Slocan Valley. They were miners, labourers, businessmen and some were students about to embark on promising careers. They come alive again in this account of who they were and what they endured in that futile and cataclysmic war to end all wars. After six years of research, the author tells their stories, and vividly makes them more than simply names on a cenotaph.


At the outbreak of war in 1914 a patriotic hysteria swept across Canada as men clamored to sign up and join the fight for God, country and empire. Among them were more than a thousand men from the beautiful Kootenay Lake region of British Columbia. Many were fruit ranchers, mostly British immigrants who settled on the shores of the lake, along the Kootenay River, and in the Slocan Valley. They were miners, loggers and railway men. Among them were deckhands on the paddlewheelers that carried passengers and cargo on the lake. They were carpenters, mill hands, stonemasons and unskilled labourers. Some were mining engineers, bank clerks and businessmen, and some were students about to embark on promising careers. Names on a Cenotaph tells the harrowing and poignant stories of the 280 men listed on Kootenay Lake memorials who died on the blood-soaked battlefields of France and Flanders. They fought in rat-infested trenches, some of them for more than three years, and earned respect and admiration for their grit and determination. All the while, the people back home anxiously watched the daily lists of the dead and wounded, sent off parcels from home, and raised thousands of dollars to help win victory. This important piece of British Columbia history is the result of six years of extensive research, of newspapers, books, archival records and websites, and also correspondence with family members of the men who died. Photographs of many of the men help bring their stories to life.

About the author

Sylvia Crooks was born and raised in Nelson, BC, and graduated from Nelson High School in the class of 1954. Her father, T.S. Shorthouse, was mayor of the city in the 1950s and ’60s. She has a BA in English and History, and a master’s degree in library science from the University of British Columbia. Sylvia worked in public libraries in Vancouver and Burnaby before joining the faculty of the UBC School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, where she taught reference and outreach services for 15 years before retiring in 2002. Her book Homefront & Battlefront: Nelson BC in World War II received an honourable mention from the British Columbia Historical Federation in its 2005 Historical Writing Competition.

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