The editors of ActiveHistory.ca are currently enjoying our annual end of summer hiatus, but we’ll be back with new content in September. During the hiatus, we’re featuring some of our most popular and favourite posts from the past year. Thanks as always to our writers and readers.
The following post was originally featured on November 10, 2016
Claire L. Halstead
This summer, on August 26, 2016, a new First World War memorial was unveiled in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Titled The Last Steps, the memorial takes the shape of an arch and stands on the city’s harbour front; a gangplank purposefully leads the observer’s eye up the pier, through the arch, and right out to sea. Footprints (cast from an authentic soldier’s boot) burnt into the wooden pier conjure up impressions of souls from long ago. In this, Nancy Keating, the Nova Scotia artist who designed the memorial, succeeds in imparting on the observer the haunting emotion the memorial is intended to convey. The memorial stands as a testament to the last steps soldiers took in Halifax before departing for the Great War.
The Last Steps memorial is just one of thousands of local and national memorials and acts of remembrance happening around the world between 2014 and 2018 to mark the centenary of the First World War. Making a new addition to the Halifax boardwalk, the memorial provides an opportunity to ponder the creation of sites of memory and twenty-first century centenary commemoration of the First World War, as it happens. This is an opportunity to observe how centenary commemorations take place; not only their modes and the messages contained within them, but the spaces, both physical and virtual, where they are placed.