“In memory of those who fell,” a legacy in glass

In support of the proposal to create a City war memorial honouring those Kingston men and women who died during the First World War (also known as the “Great War”), in 1920 Mayor Hugh Collamer Nickle said: “the contribution in men, money and munitions was all that could be desired. Some of her sons will not return as time passes those who were more fortunate will pass to the great beyond, and it would seem fitting that Kingston, which they so well represented at the front should erect a memorial in their honour. I therefore suggest that the windows in the City Hall be a memorial type, and that brass tablets be erected between the columns and a record be kept of those who enlisted in Kingston.”

Memorial Hall in Kingston City Hall was chosen as the site for such a tribute. In 1920-1921, a leading Canadian stained glass company, Toronto-based Robert McCausland Limited created twelve stained glass windows which line the east and west walls of the chamber. Individuals and companies donated funds to help support the creation of each window; bronze acknowledgement plaques placed under the windows identify the corresponding donors. Each window portrays a different First World War I battle in which Canadians played a significant role and represents a different military service, industry or home front activity that contributed to the war effort.

While the subject and design of each window is unique, commonalties between the twelve allow one to view the windows collectively as a series. At the rounded top of each window is found the pre-1973 Kingston crest and at the bottom alternates the Ontario crest and the coat of arms used by the Dominion of Canada (between 1905 and 1921). The windows’ leading enhances the design in glass; all windows are bordered with gold flowers interspersed between coloured glass blocks in blues, purples, greens and reds.

Memorial Hall and its wonderful stained glass commemorative windows honouring Kingston’s sailors, soldiers, airmen and nursing sisters were dedicated on December 14, 1921. They remain a City Hall highlight and defining feature of the National Historic Site. The descriptions of each window in this collection are taken from the original 1921 dedication programme.

Objects in This Exhibit

Passchendaele, 1917
R. McCausland
2007.020.010
Vimy April 1917
R. McCausland
2007.020.011
Lens, August 1917
R. McCausland
2007.020.012
Sanctuary Wood
R. McCausland
2007.020.001
Jutland May 31, 1916
R. McCausland
2007.020.002
Somme 1916
R. McCausland
2007.020.003
Amiens August 1918
R. McCausland
2007.020.004
St. Eloi April 1916
R. McCausland
2007.020.005
Ypres April 1915
R. McCausland
2007.020.006
Mons Nov. 11, 1918
R. McCausland
2007.020.007
Scapa Flow Nov. 23rd, 1918
R. McCausland
2007.020.008
Cambrai Oct. 1918
R. McCausland
2007.020.009