Sixty-three men from Brome County were killed in The First World War. Their names are listed on the war memorial in front of Knowlton Academy. One plaque lists 31, on the other side of the monument are 32. A devastating total for a rural county with a population of 13,397 in the 1916 census.
The War Memorial in Knowlton itself, with its bronze statue of a First World War Canadian soldier guided by an angel, is large for such a small town. Brome County Council hired a sculptor with the striking name of Coeur de Lion MacCarthy for the sum of $12,500, equivalent to $182,000 in today’s money, according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator. 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.
Every family was affected by death and injury from the war. The Knowlton monument was unveiled in 1923, and ever since has been the site of the Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the deadliest war for Canadians. Far more Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed from 1914 to 1918 than in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945.
By the middle of the war in 1916 Canada’s population was eight million; by the end of the war in November 1918, 59,544 Canadians had been killed in battle; another 172,000 wounded, many crippled or blinded for life.
A smaller monument stands beside the one for the First World War. It lists 15 local men who died in the Second World War. Though that war was more devastating for humanity, Canada and Knowlton suffered more in the First World War.