Originally required to 'be expressive of the
feelings of the Canadian people as a whole (39)'
the winning design had to espouse the core-values of poat-war remembrance:
'the spirit of heroism, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the spirit
of all that is noble and great that was exemplified in the lives
of those sacrificed in the Great War, and the services rendered
by the men and women wh went overseas' (40).
To the artist, however, the sculpture was intended to have a parallel
Online papers / Journal Articles
'Invicta pax' Monuments, Memorials and peace:
An Analysis of the Canadian Peacekeeping
International Journal of Heritage Studies',
8, 3. pp.201-223, 8 b & w illus., ISSN 1352-7258
This paper explores monuments to peace
and peacekeeping, as distinct from monuments and memorials that
commemorate the war dead. Two principal lines of enquiry are
explored: the first examines whether it is possible to create
secular monumental sculpture that promotes peace or espouses
reconciliation. Secondly, the author asks whether monumental
art is able to advocate peace without relying on the frameworks
or discourses of commemoration and remembrance. Through an initial
examination of the differences between 'monuments' and 'memorials'
the paper explores the iconography and discourses of peace and
pacifism. The paper then focuses on the Peacekeeping Monument
in central Ottawa, Canada: a monument that was intended to mark
forty years of international peacekeeping, but was unveiled
the same year that Canadian troops fought as part of a military
coalition in the Middle East and were embroiled in a civil war
in Africa. By comparing the the Peacekeeping Monument with the
nearby Canadian War Memorial the author explores the manipulation
and creation of heroic landscapes, concluding that far from
advocating peace and reconciliation, the Peacekeeping Monument
captures a defined period in Canadian polity.
Monuments or Memorials
In an extensive bibliography on monuments(1),
definitions are elusive. In particular, the terms 'monument'
and 'memorial' are used interchangeably, their definitions often
paradoxical and weakly articulated. Arthur Danto, reflecting
on the Vietnam veterans Memorial in the USA, attempts to distinguish
the latter from the former on the basis that whereas memorials
speak of healing, remembrance and reconciliation, monuments
are usually celebratory or triumphalist(2).
Simplistic though this is, it offers a starting point. According
to the Oxford English Dictionary, a monument is 'a structure,
edifice or erection intended to commemorate a person, action
or event'. Definitions of 'memorial' focus on the intention
to preserve memory and on their iconographic role in evoking
remembrance. In common understanding a monument should bear
the attributes of scale, permanence, longevity and visibility.
Memorials by contrast, are often more intimate, local and personal,
though they are still required to be durable and open to public
gaze. While the monument has often been built to promote specific
ideals and aspirations - from the Statue of Liberty to the Eiffel
Tower - the memorial is essentially a retrospective form, idealising
a past event, historic figure or deified place.
The German cultural historian Alois Riegl devised a distinction
between monuments that are 'wanted' - in the sense of satisfying
a commemorative need - and those that are merely remnants, in
the form of 'historical' or preserved remains that connect us
to a revered past(3).
Drawing on Freud's work on mourning and melancholia, Michael
Rowlands(4) has argued
that monuments become memorials as a result of the successful
completion of a mourning process. Cousins further suggests that
during the initial mourning period:
the object must die twice, first at the
moment of its own death and secondly through the subject's unhitching
from its own identification. It is only then that the subject
can pass into history and that the stones can be set - for mourning
and memorial are a phase apart.(5)
In a further refinement of this model, Winter(6)
identifies three distinct periods in the evolution of the public
monument: an initial, creative phase - the construction of 'commemorative
form' - which is marked by monument building and the creation
of ceremony. Secondly, the 'grounding of ritual action in the
calendar' through a process of institutionalisation and routinisation.
Finally, their transformation or disappearance as 'active sites
of memory' during a final phase that is largely contingent on
whether a second generation of mourners inherits the earlier meanings
attached to the place or event and adds new meanings. Without
frequent re-insciption the date and place of commemoration simply
fade away as memory atrophies; the monument loses its potency
to reinvigorate memory.
This complex process is exemplified in the the case of monuments
to distant wars. Here, as Inglis suggests, the technological difference
is significant: 'where the French speak
of monuments aux morts, the English say 'war memorials'.' Memorial
leaves open the form of commemoration that may, or may not, be
monumental(7). In largely
Protestant, voluntarist countries such as Britain, hospitals,
libraries and other utilitarian memorials had long been considered
to be structures appropriate for commemoration. Victorian and
Edwardian Britain is strewn with the evidence of philanthropic
and state benefaction. After the Great War, British memorials
varied in object from avenues of trees to utilitarian schemes
such as community halls, recreation grounds, convalescent homes
(8) and, in one case, a waterpipe to a
local school(9). However,
in 1919 the need to find a tolerable meaning to the Great war
more often demanded monumental form. Reverential structures such
as cenotaphs had several functions. Initially they acted as a
focus for personal, public and civic displays of grief. Their
iconic form helped to reassure noncombatants and relatives that
the dead died for a greater cause, on that was linked to abstract
values of nationhood, camaraderie or Christian citizenship. Through
the annual ritual of Armistice services they gradually became
the focus of communal and individual remembrance opening up a
discourse of healing, regret and reflection. In their monumental
form, Rowlands suggests that war memorials:
'Should ideally allow the fusion of the living
with the dead in an act of remembrance whilst in time providing
a way out of melancholia through an act of transcendence'.(10)
In this way, they function
as palliative topoi
that help resolve the conditions of 'negativity and impotence'
aroused by violent death, particularly of the young. Of course
not all war memorials act in this way; some are bombastic and
celebratory, embellishing the past, promoting pride in distant
victories and asserting inflated values of nationhood. Interestingly,
most memorials to the Great War have latterly assumed a wider
role, becoming the epicentre for annual civic commemoration for
all 20th century wars - a role that encompasses both global conflict
(the Second World War) and territorial skirmishes (the Falklands
War). In this way they are periodically re-inscribed with values
and meanings often beyond their original remit.
For ostensibly conventional and uncomplicated icons, monuments
to warfare, and perhaps even more so to warriors, often arouse
complex passions. Consider the furore over the installation of
a statue to Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris in London in 1992
(11)> or the alleged 'desecration' of the
Whitehall Cenotaph during may day protests in 2000(12).
Of two issues, however, we can be more certain; monuments are
seldom built to commemorate continuing events or to honour those
still living. This explains, suggests Lowenthal, our queasiness
when we are commemorated(13).
Secondly, the building of memorials is widely intended as a terminal
act, indicating closure and the completion of a segment of historical
past. Monuments, according to Hynes(14)>,
are crucial icons in the official act of closure, the ultimate
solidification in the 'discourse of big words': 'heroism', 'gallantry',
'glory', 'victory', though only occasionally, 'peace'.
Peace and Victory
The Cenotaph, observes Michalski(15),
is a metonymic form. Whereas 19th century monuments had tended
towards the allegorical or metaphoric(16),
or had stood as portraits of the good and the great, the 20th
century Cenotaph along with the equally novel Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier, stood as a singular abstraction of mass death. However,
not all Great war monuments in Britain and its empire embraced
the massive blankness of Lutyens' Cenotaph. Throughout the empire,
monumental sculptors continued to draw upon the heightened diction
of classical figuration. Angelic statues and allegorical figures
of Victory were popular in those communities with considerable
funds to lavish on a grand memorial arrangement. Colchester citizens
raised seven and a half thousand pounds during 1919-1920 to erect
a 4.9m high pedestal of Portland stone surmounted by a 3.3m winged
figure of Victory. In her right hand she holds a sword meant to
represent 'the Cross of sacrifice and sword of devotion' and in
her left hand a laurel wreath - the classical emblem of Victory(17).
Historical figures were also popular. In 1924, for example, a
monument was unveiled in London dedicated to the British Cavalry
who had served in the Great War. Its sculptor, Captain Adrian
Jones, re-created the legend of St. George whose 'twofold character
of knight and saint (combined) dignity with chivalry'(18)
'I showed the dragon's dead body and St.
George's sword uplifted in the right hand. This gesture may
be taken as signifying to the world that the dragon is slain
season of his tyranny at an end'.(19)
By comparison, figurative representations
of 'Peace' were less numerous. Always a female figure, 'Peace'
was invariably depicted holding an olive branch, palm frond or,
very occasionally, a dove. It was often regarded as a partner
to the representation of Victory, but usually on a lower level.
At Colchester, for example, the two attendant figures at ground
level are St. George and Peace. In Ottawa, Canada, the original
design for the cast-bronze allegorical figures at the top of the
national war memorial were to be 'either Peace and Victory or
Liberty and Freedom', the sculptor deciding eventually on the
figure of Peace adorned, rather peculiarly, with a laurel wreath.
According to the poet Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) in her speculative
poem The Cenotaph
the two motifs were inseparable:
'We shall build the Cenotaph: Victory, winged
with Peace Winged too, at the column's head.'(20)
Yet, as king has stated, Peace was rarely represented
without some ambiguity. For example, the figure of Peace that
surmounts the Thornton Memorial, near Bradford, holds a wreath
in either hand, offering us an apparent choice between leaves
of peace and victorious laurels(21).
Similarly, the female figure on the Keighley Memorial in Yorkshire
sports a laurel wreath in one hand, a palm branch in another.
She was described in the contemporary press as an emblem of a
'Peace Victory won through Service and Sacrifice(22)'.
King describes the popular inscription Invicta
Pax (peace to the undefeated) as being
typically ambiguous in that it could mean 'undefeated in war'
or 'undefeated by death'. Those monuments that commemorated the
end of the war invariably conflate 'the triumph of peace' with
'peace secured through military victory'.
Adrian Jones, tiring perhaps of his previous strident compositions,
responded to a commission for the Uxbridge Memorial in 1924 by
creating a figure of Peace (figure
A)- sporting both frond and olive wreath
- to be placed on a twenty-six foot granite column:
'I thought we had quite enough memorials
that seemed to revive the war spirit rather than to consider
peace, which is, after all, the aim and end of every great struggle.'(23)
Yet few, if any, memorials celebrate peace
in its own right. British memorial sculpture implied that 'Peace'
was the consequence of 'Victory', not an ideal worth promoting
as a separate or distinct entity. Indeed, in the majority of cases,
only an eye trained in horticultural typologies might be able
to tell the difference between an emblem of peace - the olive
- and those of victory, the laurel.
During the monument-building phase of the inter-war years, the
promotion of peace was largely the prerogative of pacifist campaigners
who focussed there actions on war memorials and their attendant
rituals. In 1921 the Armistice day ceremony in London was disrupted
by groups of unemployed ex-servicemen with placards stating 'The
dead are remembered but we are forgotten(24)'.
In following years white peace poppies were distributed by the
Peace Pledge Union; in 1926 the Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom organised a peace pilgrimage throughout Britain
which focussed less on remembrance than on campaigns for peace
legislation and world disarmamemt(25).
As we have seen, little of this political activity, however, impacted
on the actual design or location of war memorials. Occasionally,
the pacifist cause could bring about a re-designation of a memorial
site. In Norwich, for example, when the Great War memorial was
moved from the Guildhall to its current site in 1938, it was relocated
to a Garden of Remembrance, later renamed 'Garden of Peace'. A
bronze plaque underlines the shift in emphasis by stating: 'By
remembrance let us create a world of peace'.
Peace 'Monuments'Not until after the Second world war do we find
examples of 'monuments' and public artworks that are exclusively
intended to promulgate the very ideas of peace. As I have examined
elsewhere (26), these
were invariably prompted by the a fear of the consequences of
nuclear proliferation. A number of the most memorable monuments
are located in such blitzed cities as Dresden, Coventry and Nagasaki.
As a designated 'peace city', Hiroshima functions simultaneously
as a reliquary, a funerary site, a civilian battlefield, and as
a focus of political and and social debate. Invariably, most 'monuments'
have taken the form of designed landscapes, preserved ruins and
counter-monuments, each contributing to what Michalski has memorably
termed a succession of iconoclastic waves that have 'successfully
destroyed the myth of monumental eternalisation
If the siting and dedicating of monuments implies 'a terminal
act' which closes a period of mourning or martial activity, there
is little to commemorate about the pursuit of peace. Not only
does 'peace' lack a rhetorical visual language, it is essentially
a continuous process rather than one with definable conclusions
or endpoints. As has been examined elsewhere (28),
the iconography of peace activism has largely been developed through
the design of specific landscape spaces. Only occasionally, in
significant locations such as Greenham Common (the site of Britain's
longest-lasting antinuclear arms protest), have there been attempts
to design and site a peace monument. Yet even at Greenham Common
there is dispute over the design. An unofficial site - in the
form of a park, garden and water feature that bisects the principal
runway of the former airbase - appears to be gaining greater support
than a static sculpture.
Similarly, In Northern Ireland, many of the proposed monumental
schemes that explore the imagery of peace and reconciliation have
taken the form of landscaped spaces, or open-ended cultural interventions
developed in collaboration with community and local groups. A
national memorial to peace was suggested within days of the Irish
republican army's (IRA) ceasefire in August 1994, but five months
later the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin argued
the need for utilitarian memorials rather than symbolic monuments.,
the latter having been the focus of much dispute and contestation
since partition (29).
As a result, nearly all of the emblems of peace in the Province
have taken the form of artist-led interventions, installations,
environmental schemes and community collaborations. The few sculptural
or memorial schemes have been deliberately transient in nature.
In 1995, for example, an artist erected a plywood peace dove on
an empty plinth in north Belfast. Although the dove was soon burnt
and destroyed, further doves were sited for short periods in other
politically significant sites. During the following Easter, another
artist chalked the names of the 3,000 individuals killed in the
Troubles on the pavement of the Royal Avenue in Belfast
(30). More recently, a peace maze has been
designed and planted in the Province, further evidence of the
way in which peace motifs closely echo the delicate state of the
current peace agreement.
Where 'peace monuments' exist, they are often presented as fluid,
open-ended artworks that require active cooperation from the public.
A peace cairn in County Donegal, Eire, for example, consists of
a mound of hand-sized stones individually contributed by pilgrims
wishing to create a 'permanent monument to peace' that is, in
fact, in a constant state of change (31).
Such a 'monument' seems to suggest that if 'peace' cannot be represented
because it lacks the necessary rhetorical language, it might be
promoted by continuous public involvement. A peace cairn symbolises,
at one level, the laying down of 'arms' but also the need for
a commitment to maintenance and persistent effort.
Peace is, then, most often represented aesthetically and polemically
as transient, dialectic and fluid. It is rarely state-sponsored
and eschews the plinth and the plaza. Given these conditions,
what should we surmise from the rhetorical scale and dramatic
gesture of the UN Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa? As a piece
of architectural public art it borrows from the iconography of
peace, combining the imagery of symbolic ruin with tree planting
and garden design. It incorporates figurative languages with the
hard geometry of the modern movement, and, in the discursive space,
to become a player in a dramaturgical act which is determined
by location and spatial manipulation. Often cited as the first
monument to peacekeeping, it merits close and critical scrutiny.
The UN Peacekeeping Monument
In 1988, the Canadian Ministry of National
Defence announced that a monument would be erected in the capital
city, Ottawa, dedicated to Canadian forces who had served in peacekeeping
activity since the Second World War. This announcement followed
the award of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize to the UN tom mark forty
years of international peacekeeping.
Since 1948, under the auspices of the UN, Canada had contributed
over 80,000 men and women from all branches of the armed forces
to global peacekeeping. During the 1950's and 1960's Canada was
the greatest contributor of 'Blue Helmets' and the undisputed
leader in peacekeeping. Although never at the heart of Canada's
foreign policy, Canadian politicians liked to be seen as projecting
an image as 'fixers' acting as a voice of moderation between the
extremes of the two superpowers during the Cold War stand-off.
It was a Canadian statesman, Leonard B. Pearson who first used
the UN Charter to create the idea of an international Blue helmet
peacekeeping force - a concept that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.
Mandates for the peacekeeping, however, were extremely complex:
In Namibia, they supervised elections; in
the hills of Afghanistan they monitored the withdrawal of a
foreign army; in the deserts of the Middle East, they observed
the ceasefire between Iran and Iraq; and in Cyprus, they have
stood between two conflicting communities since 1964.(32)
In the late 1970's global peacekeeping was
largely dominated by a small number of countries that were perceived
as neutral or nonaligned. Countries such as Canada, Ireland, Fiji
and Nepal formed the peacekeeping core and were regarded as 'honest
brokers without geo-political interests (33)'.
As one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping, Canada
became entitled to a major voice in international debate, gaining
a reputation that went beyond the resources that it devoted to
peacekeeping initiatives (34).
This standing was compromised firstly in 1991 when Canadian troops
became part of the International Coalition against Iraq, but more
acutely in 1993 when a Canadian Airborne Regiment on peacekeeping
duty in Somalia was involved in the torture and murder of a sixteen-year-old
Somali boy who had broken into the compound of Belet Huen to pilfer
food. Following a Court Martial and a Board of Inquiry, a 1,600
page report found that the rules of engagement had been unclear,
the Canadian mission had been poorly planned, there were failures
of leadership and recurrent problems with military dicipline
(35). Participation in the Gulf War had
not compromised Canada's reputation as a 'disinterested' peacekeeper
(36). The Somali imbroglio
was different; branded as racist and maverick the Airborne Regiment
was disbanded and disgraced. In 1994 the US government asked whether
the UN was actually capable of managing its own peacekeeping operations.
Canada's reputation as global 'umpire' had been blemished.
All this lay in the future when the Department of National Defence
(DND) launched the Peacekeeping Monument competition. Proposed
and initiated by the DND, the competition was managed by a committee
consisting of representatives from the DND, the National Capital
Commission and Public Works Canada. Recognising the monument's
dual role as public art and urban design, the committee invited
five sculptors and five urban designers to form design teams drawn
from practices and studios throughout Canada. A five-preson jury,
selected from the Canadian military, arts and architecture, was
formed to adjudicate on the entrants who had four months in which
to register their interest, attend on-site briefings, and submit
their initial maquettes and design concepts (22 June - 12 October
1990). The winning team would receive a fee of $175,000. Work
on site was intended to commence in September 1991, with the sculpture
installed in August 1992.
In the Competition guidelines the guiding spirit of the
monument was made clear; '(it) is a tribute to the living, not
a memorial to the dead':
The intent of the Monument is to recognize and celebrate through
artistic, inspirational and tangible form Canada's past and
present peacekeeping role in the world. In that sense it will
represent a fundamental Canadian value: no missionary zeal to
impose our way of life on others but an acceptance of the responsibility
to assist them in determining their own futures by ensuring
a non-violent climate in which to do so. The Monument will appeal
to those who seek a literal message and to those who are receptive
to a more symbolic statement.
In phrasing the designer's brief, the authors of the Guidelines
recognised the difficulty in reaching a consensus in a pluralistic
society, and appreciated the 'low priority' usually given to the
aesthetic and symbolic dimensions of public space. This explains
the careful wording of the eight principles (37)
that were to guide the invited competitors. Of overriding importance
was the a requirement that the monument 'include literal images
and words' that would clearly explain the activities commemorated
by it. Any symbolic language had to be intelligible to broad spectrum
of the population 'so that past and present members of the peacekeeping
forces, as well as the general public, are able to understand
and identify with (its) underlying ideals and values'. As we shall
see, these conditions would have an important influence on the
eventual outcome of the competition.
The monument also had to function as a public and ceremonial place,
which would encourage social interaction and accommodate formal
events. In this capacity, its location was particularly appropriate.
Sandwiched between two major roads, Sussex and Mackenzie, the
site for the proposed monument lay at the heart of a bold urban
development scheme which included the new National Gallery of
Canada, 200m to the north-west, and the site of the proposed US
Embassy, 50m to the south. Here then lay an opportunity to create
a large urban 'room' that would relate to these prestigious buildings
and to the open land of Major Hills Park, with its important sightlines
to Parliament Hill and other state buildings, to the west (Figure
1). In detailing these principal events,
ideas and urban markers the commissioners sought to replicate
the symbolic and architectural properties of the National War
memorial which is situated some 400m to the south of the space
set aside for the Peacekeeping monument. As this is a key architectural
marker in the city we must examine the circumstances that surrounded
the siting of this hugely symbolic monument.
figure A figure
figure 2(a) figure
National War Memorial and the Politics of Location
Standing on a crest at the junction of three
main streets in central Ottawa, the National War memorial was
created out of an international competition estcablished in 1925.
A winning design chosen from 127 entries was selected in 1926.
The design of Vernon March, a 31 years old English Sculptor, was
ti include 19 (later 22) figures dressed in the uniforms of the
various branches of the Canadian forces, 2 horses and an eighteen-pound
field gun, all cast in bronze, moving in a column through a granite
arch surmounted by two cast-bronze allegorical figures (Figure
2). Following 'a host of problems',
including protracte difficulties in procuring the site, the entire
memorial scheme was not concluded until 1938
(38). It was unveiled in May 1939, just
months before the outbreak of another war.
The arch in the centre is the gateway to peace, and through it
young people representing branches in the war service eagerly
seek hope and respite from the travails of battle. At the top,
standing on the architrave, are two figures holding up symbols
of peace and freedom.(41)
This aspect of the monument is rarely considered. Instead, interest
has focused largely on the anxieties aroused by the choice of an
English Sculptor who created the work in Britain and first exhibited
it in Hyde Park in 1932, and at the aesthetic qualities of the piece
(42) . Canadian sentiment at the time concentrated
also on the work's title, The Response, which, for many exemplified
little more than the notion of Canadians answering the call of the
motherland, and so defined Canada in a subordinate relationship
to Britain rather than as an independent nation. Created by a non-Canadian,
constructed almost entirely overseas, idealogically shackled to
a distant empire, Canadians could at least decide where the memorial
should be located.
Central to the problem of location had been the role of Canadian
Prime Minister, Mackenzie King. who cherished ambitions of reshaping
the capital. By siting the memorial in Connaught Square (refashioned
in 1927 as Confederation Square) he argued that a neutral space
could be transformed into a politicised plaza worthy of Canada's
emergent national identity. Many argued that the memorial should
be placed in more sedate surroundings, while others believed it
should it should be closer to the parliament buldings, on 'national
property (43)'. Its
final position makes it a monumental 'hinge' in the urban scheme
of early twentieth century Ottawa. It plays a crucial topographic
function as a terminator for the formal axis of Elgin Street and
as a meeting point for several districts of the capital. Furthermore,
it has a distinctive silhouette, derived from its construction as
triumphal arch, cenotaph and enlarged sculptural plinth, which is
crucial to the spatial dynamics of the capital and renders it instantly
memorable. 'Without it, Confederation Square' or 'confusion square'
as it was once described 'would simply be a rather formless and
dispersed traffic intersection (44)'.
Furthermore, as Boisvert (45)
suggests, the silhouette affords the memorial a distinctive and
memorable motif which reproduces well in photographs, often the
only means by which many distant Canadians might see their National
In his report on Ottawa's urban centre commissioned by the National
Capital Commission in 1988, Roger du Toit (architect and professional
advisor to the scheme) drew lessons from the bold siting of March's
memorial. He examined the other principal markers and nodal points
of the city, identifying their importance as structural devices
which linked nationally significant institutions and places
(46) while leding emphasis, distinction and
a visual coherence to the streets (47).
Historically, he argued, principal markers - obelisks, fountains,
arches - helped punctuate a sequence of streets, or terminated long
vistas, and were regarded as crucial landmarks in the reshaping
of parts of a capital city. In the revisions to central Ottawa in
the 1980's, any proposals for the Peacekeeping Monument would also
have to maximise these topographical criteria.
In many ways, the brief for the Peacekeeping Monument was a re-run
of the debate of the 1920's. In 1988 there were similar aspirations
for the key civic routes and loci of the capital. In 1983, a National
Capital Commission paper on Ceremonial Routes had identified the
importance of a Ceremonial Ring, to be known subsequently as Confederation
Boulevard, which would link Ottawa with nearby Hull. As one of the
most important nodes in that ring, the site of the Peacekeeping
Monument was regarded as the
critical urban room in the development scheme. Like march's Great
War memorial, the monument was intended to be a symbolic pivot in
the elaboration of Ottawa.
To those conversant in the field of civic commemoration there is
much that is familiar in these ambitions to revitalise and manipulate
public space through the siting of monumental artworks. In the 'monumental
era' after the First World War the positioning of civic memorials
was often regarded as integral to the reconfiguration of city space,
especially to the reordering of a new civic or state order. As the
work of Matsuda (48)
has shown, rivalries for the mnemonic spaces of cities have often
been fierce and dramatic. In most cases it is possible to identify
the rival groups who argued over territorial and symbolic dominance;
invariably they consisted of ex-service organisations, the bereaved,
the principle fundraisers and private donors, town planners and
urban developers. Many are the examples of prolonged disputes where
ex-servicemen felt that they were being manipulated by municipal
authorities who appeared more intent on promoting a memorial scheme
as part of a comprehensive urban planning development than representing
the proper memory of their dead comrades. The management of choice,
argues King, is often complex, convoluted and 'thoroughly ambiguous'.(49)
It may seem odd that the siting of a monument should arouse such
anxieties, perplexing that icons of national reverence and remembrance
such as the National War Memorial should have once seemed so complex
and elusive. But this is to ignore the debates about the way in
which memorials encapsulate and perpetuate memory. As Johnson tells
us, such sites of memory are rarely arbitrary assignations: instead
they are 'consciously situated to connect or compete with existing
nodes of collective remembering(50)'.
Containing and conveying memory, monuments to war exist not only
as aesthetic devices but as apparatus of social memory,(51)
a phenomenon Boyer describes as 'rhetorical topoi':
'those civic compositions that teach us about
our national heritage and our public responsibilities and assume
that the urban landscape itself is the embodiment of power and
There is, of course, a fundamental difference
between a war monument/memorial which purports to encapsulate and
define memory, and a peace monument that aims to extend a process,
or to further an idea of 'peace'. Inevitably, the issue of political
legitimacy is central to the issue of peace. As Osborne
(53) asserts, the pursuit of peace has never
served the state's 'monopoly on violence'. Being associated with
internationalism, organisations such as the Peace Pledge Union,
the white poppy movement and suchlike represent a threat to the
nation-state, which regards an anti-war stance as anti-nation. However,
many of the tensions over legitimacy and control vanish if the icon
of peace (or the maintenance of peace) is devised, funded and sited
by the state, as is the case in Ottawa. DuToit's survey ignores
the symbolic capital and political legitimacy garnered by the siting
of heroic monuments. As Verdery (54)
argues in her analysis of the political life of dead bodies: the
state uses political burials and reburials to control sites of memory.
Bones and bodies are recast in bronze, altering the temporality
associated with that individual, fixing and projecting them into
the 'realm of the timeless and the sacred'. Osborne (55)
has applied a number of these concerns by drawing comparisons between
Mackenzie King's heroic cityscape devised in the early part of the
century with the recent construction of Canada's 'pantheon on Parliament
Hill' as markers for the new millennium.
In the perceptions of many pacifists, the concept of a 'Peacekeeping
Monument' is an oxymoron: how can one commemorate peace as if it
were a defined segment of historic time? Furthermore, how can the
ideals of peace be expressed figuratively, or as part of an urban
scheme that specifies intelligibility as the leading aesthetic criterion?
This is especially pertinent when one compares Barbara Hepworth's
non-figurative sculpture placed in the forecourt of the UN building
in NewYork with the rigid aesthetic criteria for the Ottawa scheme.
If the 'Peacekeeping Monument' is intended as a monument to the
pacilVing role of unarmed soldiers, how could the invited design
teams devise an architectural format and a figurative form that
would project the idea of consent, impartiality and 'conflict control'
while mindful of the precedent set by March's sculpture some hundreds
of metres away? We should explore the winning design in some detail.
The Reconciliation as Icon of Peace
was designed by sculptor Jack K. Harman, architect and urban designer
Richard G. Henriquez, and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, landscape architect.
(56) Their design has a number of elements:
a corridor of concrete and steel debris inside two solid granite
walls upon which are mounted a trio of bronze cast figures (Figure
3). Set to one side of the monument is
a grove of twelve oak trees arranged around an ovoid mound, adjacent
to which is a semi-circular ceremonial space. As a motif, The Reconciliation
makes a simple theatrical statement that is spelt out on a plaque:
Members of Canada's Armed Forces, represented by three figures,
stand at the meeting place of two walls of destruction. Vigilant,
impartial, they oversee the reconciliation of those in conflict.
Behind them lies the debris of war. Ahead lies the promise of
peace; a grove, symbol of life.
As dramaturgical space the monument has
considerable impact; the corridor is best viewed from the south-east,
where the eye is drawn into the cleft by a pattern of floor tiles-modelled
on the Green Line bisecting Cyprus-that meander around the chunks
of sawn and drilled concrete littering the corridor floor (Figure
4). Approaching the apex of the two walls
that form the sides of the corridor one becomes aware of the large
cast-bronze figures dominating the skyline. Two fissures in the
corridor walls open out to reveal the ceremonial space on the right
and glimpses of the oak grove in the east. In contrast with the
pale stonework of the walls, the three figures form striking silhouettes
which upon close scrutiny reveal themselves as three soldiers, one
female and two males, unarmed and attentive, but curiously exposed
as they scan the spaces on either side of the pointed monument.
At the apex of the monument, there are two inscriptions-Reconciliation
and At the Service of Peace/Au Service de la Paix.
One of the side walls is inscribed with a sequence of forty-eight
locations where Canadians have served in a peacekeeping role, from
United Nations in Korea (1947) to the Kosovo Verification Mission
(1998-1999). There is space sufficient for a further thirty inscriptions
Although the grove of trees is integral
to the monument, it is easy to overlook (Figure
6). Consisting of twelve trees (oak was
selected for its longevity) the number is meant to represent the
ten provinces and two territories of Canada. Like March's sculpture
with its panoply of characters drawn from all parts of the country,
the grove is an attempt to recognise the national spectrum from
which Canadian peacekeeping forces are drawn. As a symbolic motif
the grove draws weakly from the rich memorial tradition of the heroes'
grove that became a staple icon in 19th-century Germanic landscapes
of remembrance. (57)
As public art, the monument has two very different profiles. Approached
from the north via the Hull-Ottawa road, the three figures and the
reflective surface of the apex dominate the urban room; from the
south, the primary sensation is of two distinctive spaces-an enclosed
corridor and a ceremonial open area. Despite the sense of enclosure
there is, however, little relief from the noise of passing traffic.
As an emblem the monument is rather overwhelmed by the adjacent
post-modern architecture, the glass tower of the National Gallery
to the north and the unwelcoming glazed exterior of the US Embassy
some 50 m to the south. So surrounded by rather eccentric new buildings
(which are also heavily laden with ideological meaning) the monument
fails to dominate the urban room for which it was intended.
Aesthetically, there is a strained relationship between Harman's
cast figures and the angularity of the monument; the tonal contrast
between the 3 m high dark statues and the expanse of smooth pale
stone is too extreme (Figure 7).
Unlike March's memorial, the figures do not relate well to the larger
architectural whole. In March's sculpted group the arrangement of
form has been calculated so that light falls at intervals across
the figures, lending momentum to their forward movement through
the arch. By comparison, the figures in Reconcilation,
though bold in silhouette, do not seem to function as an aesthetic
unit, nor relate in their proportions to the greater architectural
whole. Compromised by the need for 'figurative intelligibility'
the effect is one of discordant elements separately assembled. Further
evidence of this lack of a unifying sensibility is the 'peace grove',
which remains a visual afterthought appended to fill, rather than
create, space. As a sequence of visual ideas, the monument suffers
from narrative confusion. How, for example, are we meant to 'read'
the smooth outer walls of the monument? They act as a formal counterpoint
to the 'ruins' of the corridor space, but do they represent the
forces of impartiality, reason and arbitration, or are the walls
merely an architectural plinth for the lead signifiers, the three
As a monument, Reconciliation cannot, of
course, be appraised in isolation. As befits a nation with a significant
peace movement, the civic landscape of Canada is peppered with gardens,
parks, bridges and other public spaces dedicated to peace, many
of them symbolically sited along the US/Canada border. In 1994 the
Canada 125 Project,
in partnership with the National Capital Commission, attempted to
consolidate, and in effect co-opt the movement by dedicating 400
peace parks across the country. Many of these were extant open spaces
created by pacifist and anti-war groups that were re-inscribed
for the purpose. Others were designed
with a 'Peace Grove' consisting of twelve trees as a symbolic link
to one another and as a reference to the monument in Ottawa. Significantly,
the parks were simultaneously dedicated on 8 October 1992 as Reconciliation
was unveiled in Ottawa. By this gesture, the state laid its imprint
and controlling measure on the rhetoric of peace. In so doing, the
monument's function as a symbol of peace (not merely peace keeping)
was extended across the country. In this way the monument was freighted
with a complex amalgam of themes-world peace, disarmament, reconciliation,
intervention, arbitration, unarmed heroism-few of which it was ever
intended to serve. By such inclusive action, the 125 Project-intended
to celebrate a major anniversary in Canada's history-firmly located
Reconciliation as a precursor of future
peace spaces and as the symbolic emanation of the idea of peace.
Despite these associations Reconciliation
neither satisfies as a polemic against war, nor as a declaration
of peace. As monumental sculpture, it is neither metonymic, nor
interrogative; it does not evoke shared memory nor does it pose
many awkward questions. Unlike most 'war' memorials it makes no
attempt at closure or the resolution of private or public suffering.
It does, however, record the historic involvement of Canadian troops.
And, with sufficient space for thirty future campaigns, it presupposes
a future peacekeeping role for Canadian troops into the next two
decades. In this sense it projects a future role with some certainty,
suggesting that the Canadian values of impartiality and fairness
will be constants worthy of continuous aggrandisement. However,
because of global events that took place as the monument was under
was transformed from a form that idealised passive intervention
and arbitration to one that merely recorded an historic role as
UN peacekeeping. Canada's unfortunate involvement in the Somali
Civil War confirmed its fallen status as an arbiter. Despite its
constant evocation as a symbol of peaceful intervention and its
regular use as a dignified and ceremonial space, Reconciliation
is little more than a memorandum in stone to a distinctive phase
of Canadian military history. In this capacity, however, the monument
appears to have gathered some status amongst former Canadian soldiers.
It acts as a physical (and virtual) focal point-much like a regimental
reunion or garrison town-for a community of ex-servicemen who once
served as UN peacekeeping. For many in this community, the monument
acts as a bold visual logo that regularly adorns Internet sites
dedicated to the topic. In this way it replicates the visual impact
of the striking silhouette of March's memorial. However, a portion
of former Canadian soldiers who have served in peacekeeping roles
have recently raised objections to the factual and symbolic purpose
of the monument, suggesting that the list of missions carved on
its northern face are 'gross inaccuracies' which render the monument
a 'National embarrassment'. (58)
But more pointedly, the veterans argue that the monument serves
no memorial function. Although it honours a national ideal and an
international principle, it does not remember those who died on
peacekeeping service. In their vociferous campaign, veterans draw
on the heightened rhetorical language of the Great War-using phrases
such as 'the fallen' and 'ultimate sacrifice'-to articulate their
grievance. The campaign marks the point where monumental form is
re-invigorated and re-inscribed as a point of collective remembrance,
and also where an emblem of peace is transformed into a memorial
to those who died in martial conflict. The value of Reconciliation
as a contemporary icon of national esteem was perhaps further undermined
by the decision in 2000 to locate Canada's 'soldat
inconnu' besides March's National War
Memorial in Confederation Square. Such action is part of a continuing
intensification of the National memorial site and appears to further
erode the impact of The Reconciliation.
first part of this paper examined the iconography of peace and its
articulation in the funerary statuary of the period after the First
World War in Britain and parts of the empire. By examining the semiotic
and iconographic differences between a 'monument to war' and a 'memorial',
the paper has teased out some of the subtle distinctions between
the two forms and has suggested some new readings of familiar civic
memorial sites. Lacking a suitable rhetoric, it has been argued
that the language of peace is often best expressed by temporary
artistic intervention rather than a fixed monumental artefact.
Through focusing on the first ever monument to peacekeeping, it
has been suggested that the Reconciliation monument was predicated
on a number of expectations. Firstly, that it would replicate the
spatial and symbolic impact of the National War Memorial, secondly
it would revitalise and embellish a new civic and political space,
thirdly it would form the monumental centrepiece of Canada's foreign
policy. Furthermore, although the monument was designed to promote
the virtues of unarmed intervention, arbitration and reconciliation
it came to be identified as a pivotal element in a network of public
spaces dedicated to peace and pacifism. In this way the monument
assumed multiple symbolic functions which were largely fabricated,
and were later reneged upon by Canada's involvement in global conflict
and in messy policing actions. As a monument to a particular phase
of Canadian military history, Reconciliation
serves as a useful, if slightly ungainly, visual footnote to Canadian
foreign policy aspirations. As public art, it has little new to
add: it develops some of the spatial and dramaturgical themes that
are typical of contemporary Canadian monuments, but its aesthetic
ambition is compromised by a disunified treatment and unreasonable
expectations of its impact as a processional space. In this last
respect, however, the frequent use of the ritual space suggests
that the monument is valued by ex-servicemen as a bold emblem that
notes their part in resolving global conflict, but one that fails
to commemorate lives lost in the pursuit of that ideal.
for this paper was made possible by a Canadian Studies Faculty Research
Programme Grant awarded by the UK Canadian High Commission. In 1999
the UK British Council also sponsored a lecture tour and visit to
Canada. I would like to thank Laura Brandon and Dr Cameron Pulsifer
at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, and Professor Brian Osborne,
Queen's University. I am grateful for advice from two anonymous
referees who advised on earlier drafts of this paper.
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I am indebted to Professor Sally Morgan for a number of the thoughts
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Ibid., p. 28. The artist was an art student from the University
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last accessed in September 2001.
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T. Wayling, Madean's Magazine, Ottawa, 15 December 1938, p.23.
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The full design team consisted of Jack Harman: sculptor, Gibson's,
BC; Richard Henriquez: urban designer, Vancouver, BC; Cornelia Oberlander
Hahn: landscape architect, Vancouver, BC; Gabriel Design: lighting,
Ottawa, Ontario; J.L. Richards: engineering, Ottawa, Ontario.
See, for example, www/rockiesnesl-spirit.com
the homepage for the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association
which contains their authoritative list of UN missions. Further
views on the demerits of the monument are carried on http://perc.ca/PEN/
Phrase used by veteran in website www.islandnet.coml-duke/monument.htm
accessed September 2002.