According to the Proceedings of the Brome County Council in the year of 1921 the council resolved to arrange for “the erection of a War Memorial to the boys of the county who were killed in the Great War.” Permission was granted from the School Board of Knowlton to erect the monument on school grounds on land which had been donated by Mr. Justice Lynch. After an extended search, a contract was signed with a sculptor by the remarkable name of Mr. Coeur de Lion MacCarthy to erect a soldier’s monument in Knowlton for the sum of $12,000 (roughly equivalent to $182,000 in today’s currency). MacCarthy produced war memorials across Canada, including in Vancouver, Trois Rivières and the giant sculpture of the Angel of Victory in Montreal’s Windsor Station. The memorial is impressive for a town the size of Knowlton. The County Council chose to create one large memorial rather than smaller ones in each town. Dr. Harris, Warden of the County, boasted that Brome County Council subscribed more money to their patriotic fund than any other individual County in the Province of Quebec. Every family was affected by the war. Sixty-three Brome County men never returned home.
The bronze statue, standing atop a granite stone base, shows a First World War Canadian soldier being guided by an angel. On one side of the monument are the full names of 31 soldiers and on the other side are the full names of 32 soldiers. According to the Proceedings of Brome County Council there was a last minute extra charge of $350 to the sculptor: “for the inscription of names on the monument more fully than was originally intended.” Apparently, the original cost had only covered the family name. The 15 men who died in the Second World War are honoured by a smaller monument which stands beside the one for the First World War.
In August of 1923 the memorial was completed and a special session was convened to appoint an unveiling committee. According to The Sherbrooke Record on September 3, 1923 “The County of Brome paid a solemn tribute to its fallen dead at the unveiling of a War Memorial.” It went on to state that “a very impressive service was held at Knowlton. It was attended by thousands from all parts of the County and various sections of the Eastern Townships”. The monument, draped with a large union jack, was unveiled by Lieut.-General Sir Richard Turner, V.C., K.C.M.
There were speeches and soldiers on parade. The band of the Grenadier Guards of Montreal played Nearer My God to Thee and finished off the ceremony with the National Anthem.
From then until now the County of Brome War Memorial has been the site of Memorial Day Services on November 11.
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