Walter S. Allward

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                                                                                              n 2001, the Government of Canada
                                                                                              named Walter Seymour Allward a ”Na-
                                                                                              tional Historic Person” for outstanding
                                                                                              artistic contributions to his country.
                                                                                        For many, he’s recognized as “Allward
                                                                                        of Vimy”—sculptor and designer of the
                                                                                        stunning Canadian Battlefields Memorial,
                                                                                        commemorating the April 1917 battle at
                                                                                        Vimy Ridge, France. But his iconic works
                                                                                        also punctuate cenotaphs and memorial
                                                                                        gardens across Ontario, drawing eyes sky-
                                                                                        ward and giving on-lookers pause to reflect
                                                                                        and remember.
                                                                                           Walter Seymour Allward was born in To-
                                                                                        ronto in 1876 and worked, as a young lad,
                                                                                        alongside his father, learning the carpentry
                                                                                        trade. During his teenage years, he appren-
                                                                                        ticed as a draftsman for the architectural firm
                                                                                        Gibson and Simpson, then moved on to the
                                                                                        Don Valley Brickworks, where he fashioned
                                                                                        decorative terra cotta panels. At age 19, he
                                                                                        received his first commission—the figure of
                                                                                        Peace on the North-West Rebellion monu-
                                                                                        ment in Queen’s Park, Toronto. The piece
                                                                                        was very well-received and commissions for
                                                                                        other portrait monuments soon followed.
                                                                                           Today, Allward’s statues of Lieutenant-
                                                                                        Colonel John Graves Simcoe, Sir Oliver
                                                                                        Mowat, and J.S. Macdonald occupy places
                                                                                        of honour in the park area surrounding
                                                                                        the Provincial Legislature in Toronto. He
                                                                                        also sculpted busts of Lord Tennyson, Sir
                                                                                        Charles Tupper, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier (talk
                                                                                        about name dropping!) for the Provincial
                                                                                        Museum in Toronto, and in 1899 created
                                                                                        a life-sized statue of Dr. Oronhyatekha for
                                                                                        the Independent Order of Foresters. (See
                                                                                        the article “Life and Times of Burning Sky”
              Walter S. Allward. Photo by M. O. Hammond. Archives of Ontario I0007769   in The Country Connection, Issue #52.)

                            A Tribute to                                                 Allward was seized by the tragic
                                                                                             senselessness of battle,

Walter S. Allward                                                                           and the resulting emotion
                                                                                           informed much of his work.

6 SUMMER/AUTUMN The Country Connection
achIeveMents                  In 1903, Allward was elected associ-
                                                                                                                                                   by Lorie Lee Steiner
                          ate of the Royal Canadian Academy and
                          fifteen years later earned the status, full
                          academician; his diploma work “The
                          Storm” is now displayed with pride at the
                          National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. A
                          prolific sculptor, his gift for recreating the
                          human form shines through in such works
                          as the South African Memorial (Toronto),
                          the Boer War Memorial Fountain (Wind-
                          sor), the Baldwin-Lafontaine Monument
                          (Parliament Hill, Ottawa) and his brilliant
                          design for the King Edward VII Memorial,
                          which was halted by the onset of World
                          War I. Two bronze figures, named Truth and
                          Justice were already completed and now
                          aptly adorn the entrance to the Supreme
                          Court building in Ottawa. A remarkably
                          similar Justice captures rapt attention at
                          Vimy Ridge.
                              Even before the Great War, Walter
                          Allward was seized by the tragic senseless-
                          ness of battle, and the resulting emotion
                          informed much of his work. A particularly
                          poignant example is his 1903 rendition of
                          the Old Soldier, in Toronto’s Victoria Me-
                          morial Square. The tired-looking veteran
                          stands atop the War of 1812 Monument in
                          period uniform, eyes full of sorrow as he
                          looks over the old military burial ground…
                          one sleeve conspicuously empty.
Photos by Lorie Steiner

                           The Old Soldier, in Toronto’s Victoria Memorial Square.   Allward’s first commission—the figure of Peace on the North-West Rebellion monument in Queen’s Park, Toronto.

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    In April 1907, the Advisory Art Council ran a competition for the conception of the Baldwin-LaFontaine Monument commemorating the Fathers of Responsible Government.
                                                        Completed in 1914. Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Photo by Gus Zylstra.

                                                         Centre: In this maquette of the statues of Truth and Justice,
                                                            created by Walter S. Allward, they are side by side as
                                                            initially intended for the King Edward VII monument.
                                                         Left: The statue of Truth adorning the left side of the grand
                                                               stairs leading up to the Supreme Court in Ottawa
                                                          Right: The statue of Justice adorning the right side of the
                                                                            Supreme Court building.
                                                                              Photos by Gus Zylstra

8 SUMMER/AUTUMN The Country Connection
                                                                                  Monument to Alexander Graham Bell in Brantford, Ontario.
Vision to Reality
   Allward’s talent for portraiture was obvi-
ous, but his creative preference was more
allegorical in nature. With an artist’s eye,
he envisioned obscure connections to the
subject at hand and first sketched, then
sculpted them into reality. His most notable
early success in this vein was a monument
to Alexander Graham Bell in Brantford, On-
tario. The massive white granite memorial
sits atop a series of semi-circular steps at the   In the bronze relief, Humanity is lying on a bank of clouds,                The floating figures to the right
head of a picturesque triangular parkscape.        while the Genius of the Universe whispers to him of a won-     represent the messengers of Knowledge, Joy, and Sorrow.
Viewed without a tutorial, the monument            drous thing—the power to transmit messages through air.                       Photos by Lorie Lee Steiner.
may come across as a folly—where’s that
“daffodil-design” telephone we recognize
from the history books? Not to be found.
Instead, the stone face supports a vast
bronze casting, upon which ethereal figures
convey, what was described at the time as,
the “annihilation of space.”
   The great figure to the left of the scene
represents Humanity. According to a state-
ment by Allward on the day of the dedica-
tion, “the figure was modelled after a man
who tilled the soil around Brantford, went
away to war, came back wounded, posed
as the model for Humanity, got work as a
Forest Ranger, tired of it and has gone back
to war, and is there at this moment fighting
as your representative and mine. His name
is Cyril Kinsella.”
   It’s worthy of note, in this Year of the
British Home Child, that Kinsella was one of        Alexander Graham Bell and the Bell Memorial
those unfortunate children. He was brought               Association at the dedication, 1917.               At 1 p.m. on July 24, 2010, the Historic Sites and
to Canada by Fegan’s Homes in 1908 and                                                                      Monuments Board of Canada will re-dedicate the
moved around to several different homes                                                                     Bell Memorial in commemoration of Canadian
under less than ideal circumstances. His               Completion of the                                    Sculptor Walter S. Allward. The event takes place at
chance meeting with Allward turned out                                                                      Bell Memorial Park at Queen and West Streets in
to be a blessing for both of them. (See
                                                         Bell Memorial                                      Brantford, Ontario, in conjunction with Homecoming
the article about the Home Children in             was expected in three years                              Weekend—a celebration of the 100th Anniversary
“Highway of Shame, Highway of Hope”                                                                         of the Bell Homestead as a museum. For more infor-
in The Country Connection, Issue No. 47.)               —it took eight.                                     mation, contact: Curator, Brian Wood 519-756-6220

                                                                                                                  The Country Connection SUMMER/AUTUMN 9
   In the bronze relief, Humanity is lying on     man models), so they could be compared          this work, the victor stands tall and proud,
a bank of clouds, while the Genius of the         with the original drawings. Then came time      while defeat is portrayed by a sinking figure
Universe whispers to him of a wondrous            for full-size figures based on actual human     at his side, holding a broken sword. The
thing—the power to transmit messages              models. (Apparently, Canada proved to be        inscription reads: “They gave their lives to
through air. The floating figures to the right    lacking in suitable subjects, which caused      break the power of the sword.”
represent the messengers of Knowledge,            excessive delays until Allward's fortuitous       It was the last work Allward completed
Joy, and Sorrow. At each side of the relief,      meeting with Cyril Kinsella.)                   before moving to London, England, in
a majestic bronze figure stands atop a                Once the full-size model was approved,      1922. At that time, he already had design
towering granite pillar, forty-five feet apart.   it was cast in plaster, after which very        approval for the Citizens’ War Memorial in
One is transmitting, the other listening from     large moulds were created and the final         Peterborough, Ontario, a vivid depiction of
a distance. On the lower face of the main         bronze casting was done. Logistics were a       the Angel of Mercy (Peace) and the Angel of
monument are two discs, with phrases in           nightmare in the case of the Bell relief; the   Death. But the Vimy Ridge project made it
Latin etched into the granite. On the left,       planned transfer route by rail from New York    impossible for him to proceed. So he hired
   Mundus Telephonica Usu Recreatus               had to be carefully altered, as the cargo was   an eminent English sculptor, Mr. Bayes,
Est — By using the telephone, the world           too enormous to go under the low bridges.       to bring the Peterborough commission
is changed.                                           Completion of the Bell Memorial was         through to completion.
   And on the right,                              expected in three years—it took eight. The        In London, Allward set up a studio
   Hoc Opus Telephonica Patri Dedicatum           reason? As given by the chairman of the         and worked diligently on the Vimy Ridge
Est—This monument is dedicated to the             committee, “The delay has been caused           Memorial for 14 years, from design to
father of the telephone.                          because it is entirely the effort of one man;   completion. The solemn unveiling took
   The Bell Monument was dedicated by the         no other person could be employed upon          place on July 26, 1936, in the company
Governor General, Earl of Bessborough, on         it. For the last five years, Sculptor Allward   of King Edward VIII and 6,000 grateful
October 24, 1917, in the illustrious presence     has taken practically no other work than        Canadians who had travelled to witness
of both the inventor and the sculptor, and        that of the monument. He has put his life       the event. Walter Allward moved back to
a crowd numbering well into the hundreds.         into it and has produced a work of art that     Canada that same year and went to work
The granite facade was cloaked with fabric,       will be handed down to our posterity as an      designing and sculpting the William Lyon
while one of the bronze sculptures was            heirloom erected to the greatest inventor       Mackenzie Memorial for Queen’s Park.
draped with the Union Jack, the other,            and invention of modern times.”                 He was also commissioned to design a
the Stars and Stripes. After the unveiling,           The cenotaph on Veterans Way in             monument to Sir Frederick Banting, after
Alexander Graham Bell gave a passionate           Stratford, Ontario, is home to another of       Banting’s sudden death in 1941, but the
speech from the steps of the monument;            Walter Allward’s masterpieces, and one          piece never materialized.
Walter S. Allward, as was his way, retired        that proved an emotional rollercoaster. In        Walter Allward passed away in 1955; a
to the background and had his remarks             fact, he had to take a break after finishing    man who, by a life spent commemorating
read later by Sir Edmund Walker (Art Critic       the first section, because the experience       the sacrifices and ideals of others, guar-
of Canada and President of the Bank of            was just too depressing. The monument           anteed his own place in Canadian history
Commerce) at a gala reception.                    was designed as a testament to wartime          and in the hearts of all who gaze upon his
   Sir Edmund’s own feeling on the subject        stress, representing the anger and suffer-      works…and remember. o
went like this, “When the Brantford Com-          ing, as opposed to only glorious Victory. In
mittee first came to me, an unpleasant thrill
went through me lest they should want a
realistic monument of the telephone—Dr.
Bell at one end of the line, and an ‘hello’
girl at the other. [Laughter] I was delighted
to find that the gentlemen wished this great
subject treated ideally—and I should not
have been very much interested if they
had not.”
   The creation of such a “monumental”
work as the Bell Memorial, or indeed any
of Allward’s endeavours, including Vimy
Ridge, involved an enormous amount of
time and red tape, since the project had
to be approved in several stages by the
committee in charge. The process began
with a small “sketch model”—a basic con-
ception of the artist’s vision, without using
human models. After that, every figure
was required to be produced at half of the                 South African Memorial, Toronto.              Sir Oliver Mowat, Queen’s Park, Toronto
expected finished size (again without hu-                         Photo by Lorie Steiner.                          Photo by Lorie Steiner.

10 SUMMER/AUTUMN The Country Connection
Putting History
in its Place
    While researching Walter Allward’s work for this story, I sent
an e-mail to The National Gallery in Ottawa, asking if they
had digital images I could use with the article. The next day, I
received a reply giving me the contact information for a couple
here in Brantford, who had some photographs I “might like
to see.” I met with Helene and Martin, only to learn they had
been at the National Gallery showing their historic treasures
to the person I had queried, at the same time my e-mail had
arrived there. Some things are just meant to be.
    As it turned out, the Brinkmans had been house-cleaning
their attic, when they came across two large, matte-finish
photographs, mounted on dark-coloured cardboard. Sepia in
tone and professionally lighted, the images depict a plaster
monument consisting of a tall, grey structure, surrounded by a        Photo of the original sketch models created by Walter Allward for the Brantford War Memorial in 1928.
layered base, with one upright figure draped in cloth and two
huddled figures apparently weeping. The pictures are signed
                                                                          The actual Brantford War Memorial is located a
on the front, “Walter S. Allward Sculptor 1928.”
                                                                      block south of the Bell Memorial and was completed in
    But the real surprise was on the back. The handwritten            1933—but without the bronze figures, since the Memorial
inscription on the smaller photo reads:                               Association had run out of money. In 1992, seven bronze
    “Sketch model No 2 Walter S. Allward Sculptor                     statues—men and women representing all branches of
    No 1 recommended as preferable by WSA”                            the service—were unveiled at the site. They were sculpted
    The larger photo reads:                                           by Helen Granger Young of Winnipeg and, while different
    “Sketch model for Brantford War Memorial                          in design, certainly exemplify Walter Allward’s vision, as
    Walter S. Allward Sculptor                                        depicted in his models.
    16 Maida Vale London”                                                 The Brinkmans are contemplating where to donate their
    Conclusion: These are original sketch models created by           significant find—the National Gallery of Canada and the
Walter Allward for the Brantford War Memorial in 1928. The            Canadian War Museum are obvious choices. Wherever they
address was where he lived in London, England, while working          decide, you can be sure Walter Allward’s sketch models
on the Vimy Ridge Memorial. Local records of the time describe        won’t be hidden away again. History doesn’t belong in the
the original design as having “two pylons standing over a             attic, or in a closet, basement or dusty museum archives.
stone of remembrance, three bronze figures and a piece of             It needs to be seen, appreciated and pondered. Lest we
crippled field artillery.”                                            forget.

                                                                                                                                                                              Photos by Lorie Steiner

The Brantford War Memorial was completed in 1933.                    In 1992, seven bronze statues—sculpted by Helen Granger Young—were unveiled at the site.

                                                                                                                      The Country Connection SUMMER/AUTUMN 11