The Pulse: Nov. 11, 2021

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  • 3°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High plus 3. Wind chill minus 10 in the morning (forecast)
  • 484: The number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in Alberta on Nov. 10. (details)
  • 5pm: The Oilers (9-2-0) take on the Bruins (6-4-0) tonight in Boston. (details)

The torch, laurel wreath, cross, and lions on the cenotaph's south elevation.

Council to consider designating Edmonton Cenotaph a municipal historic resource

By Andy Trussler in the Arts Roundup

The Edmonton Cenotaph could soon be designated a municipal historic resource, further cementing the importance of the memorial for Edmontonians who lost their lives in global conflicts like the First World War, Second World War, Korean War, and the Afghanistan War.

The designation, which executive committee recommended be approved by city council, would award the monument certain restorative and protective rights, including the preservation of distinctive features like wreaths, lions, tapering, and more.

The concept of a memorial cenotaph is credited to English architect Edwin Lutyens, who unveiled his first memorial sculpture, the Southampton Cenotaph, on Nov. 6, 1920.

Art historian Alan Borg wrote that Lutyens' cenotaph was the "one memorial that proved to be more influential than any other." Lutyens' design influenced the construction of cenotaphs worldwide, including in Edmonton, down to their symbolic engraving and features.

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By Karen Unland

A newspaper clipping with the headline Simple Services As Edmonton Honors World War Dead

A moment in history: Nov. 11, 1931

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1931, as will be the case today, Edmontonians were observing two minutes of silence to mark Remembrance Day.

"Throughout the city, there was a general cessation of activity as the hour of 11 struck," the newspaper reported. "Housewives plying their daily routine; street cars, linotype machines, boys and girls at play — all stopped at 11 o'clock to think for two minutes of some one near and dear who died as a result of war service." More than a thousand jammed together for a ceremony at the now-gone Memorial Hall.

The First World War, which ended 13 years before this particular ceremony, began at a pivotal point in the city's history. After decades of prosperity and rapid growth, 1913 was marked by a severe economic downturn. The war only added to that hardship, further damaging the city's economy. For many young men with few other prospects, it was "a choice to starve or get enrolled," says a history of the Edmonton General Hospital. By the end of 1915, 15,000 men from the Edmonton region had enlisted.

When the first reports of an armistice reached Edmonton, the city exploded with celebration. An impromptu parade, led by honking cars, crawled its way along Jasper Avenue.

Those attending that 1931 Remembrance celebration could not have known the world would be thrust into war again in less than a decade. Once again, tens of thousands of Edmontonians were sent overseas. While the battles were fought on the other side of the world, the war had massive impacts on daily life in the city. Labour shortages meant jobs normally closed to women were now opened up. Many of them were at Edmonton's Great West Garment Company, which would become one of the major sources of military clothes for the Allies. While women were denied combat roles, thousands signed up to work as nurses, office workers, and other jobs that supported the military effort.

The city's central airport, Blatchford Field, became a key part of the Allies' air program. Starting in 1939, it became a training ground for allied pilots from Canada, the U.K., and the United States. The airfield also served as a staging ground to send supplies and equipment to the Soviet Union; tens of thousands of flights stopped in Edmonton before continuing to Alaska and then Russia to help supply the eastern front.

Thankfully, the world has not seen another conflict of that scale in over 75 years. However, the city continues to mourn those lost in those battles, as well as more recent wars. While there will be no official ceremonies at municipal graveyards due to COVID-19, the city will be holding a memorial at the City Hall cenotaph shortly before 11. As well, the High Level Bridge will be lit up in red for remembrance.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.

A collage of movie posters from the Rainbow Visions Film Festival

Weekend agenda: Nov. 11-14

By Andy Trussler

Image: Some of the films available for streaming until Nov. 14 through the Rainbow Visions Film Festival