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New signs will memorialize Saanich’s Shelbourne Street

Memorial Avenue Committee plans call for Sept. 29 dedication ceremony
Thirty of these signs will appear along Shelbourne Street to commemorate the sacrifices of area residents during the First World War. Canadians will mark the 100th anniversary of its end on Nov. 11. Submitted

Plans are currently underway for a ceremony in the fall that will mark Shelbourne Street as Shelbourne Memorial Avenue.

Plans submitted by the Memorial Avenue Committee led by Ray Travers call for dedication ceremony on Sept. 29. Staff and committee representatives are currently working out details after Saanich council dedicated up to $5,000 towards it.

The plan calls for 30 signs that will signal Shelbourne Street’s historical status in time for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918. Council earlier this year approved the signs as part of a larger plan to turn Shelbourne Street into a commemorative space that will include a number of other features.

Shelbourne Street became Canada’s first Road of Remembrance in Oct. 2, 1921 following the end of the First World War. These roads commemorated Canadian war deaths during the First World War by planting trees along major suburban roads like Shelbourne Street, and a local group calling itself Memorial Avenue Committee has been working with Saanich to complete the project under the project heading “Street of Unfinished Dreams.”

Saanich had contemplated but never completed re-naming Shelbourne Street to Memorial Avenue.

While the group had recommended changing the name of Shelbourne Street to Shelbourne Memorial Avenue as proposed, Saanich staff pointed out that a name change could be time consuming and costly for the municipality as well as the public-at-large.

Staff instead recommended that Saanich attach some sort of a special symbol (like a poppy) to mark the status of the street comparable to the agricultural-themed symbols on Blenkinsop Road.

The sign shows the red leaf of a London planetree, with the colour symbolizing the sacrifice of locals during the First World War for Greater Victoria, British Columbia, and Canada, said Brice. An inscribed circle frames the leaf. Its top reads Memorial Avenue, the bottom Lest We Forget, with poppies serving as visual symbols.

Authorities planted some 600 London planetrees in Victoria and Saanich, with some 200 still standing in Saanich along Shelbourne Street.

As for the signs, Saanich will place them along both sides of the street between North Dairy Road and Cedar Hill Road, starting in September.

“The intent of the signs along with other approved initiatives are to connect people with the original intent and meaning of the London [planetrees] planted along Shelbourne, which serves as a reminder of the enormous losses of Canadian young men and women, on the [First World War] battlefields,” said Coun. Susan Brice.

Funding for the signs – $13,500 – is coming from Saanich’s strategic initiatives fund. Council also instructed staff to coordinate activities with the City of Victoria.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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