Monitoring down the “Hintonburg Howitzer” – Kitchissippi occasions

The Hintonburg Howitzer seen on the nook of Wellington and Somerset Streets in 1924. Credit score: Clifford M. Johnston/ Library and Archives Canada / PA-056348

By Dave Allston

Somerset Sq. is within the coronary heart of Hintonburg, a landmark assembly level the place Wellington curves into Somerset Road. At this time the favored neighborhood area is crammed with bushes, benches, native paintings and a comfortable fountain.

Within the Nineteen Twenties and Nineteen Thirties, a 19,040-pound howitzer gun – a “conflict trophy” Canada introduced residence from Germany after the First World Struggle – occupied the area as a substitute.

After the First World Struggle, many Hintonburg church buildings and different establishments devoted memorials of their halls to parishioners misplaced in the course of the conflict. There was no central monument inside the village. Like many small cities throughout Canada, Hintonburg featured a unique type of visible memorial: a chunk of precise battle gear captured by the Canadian forces and introduced again residence for show. There have been round 4,400 such trophies across the nation.

The gadgets have been collected in England and France in early 1919. Dominion Archivist Dr. Arthur Doughty visited the gadgets and organized for his or her gradual transportation aboard steamers certain for Canada. He laid out plans for a grand museum that might home the entire conflict trophies, artwork and different artefacts. 

A brief area was finally secured in a small constructing subsequent to the Dominion Archives constructing on Sussex Drive, however the plans have been by no means realized. As a substitute, the Archives despatched these trophies by prepare to municipalities, colleges and navy models who needed to show them as native memorials in parks or necessary buildings.

The artefacts have been first displayed as a part of a preferred exhibit on the Central Canada Exhibition in Sept. 1919. The exhibition featured an enormous association of airplanes, a 22’ lengthy German submarine periscope, 12’ aerial bombs, torpedoes, an armoured automotive, captured German flags, German gasoline helmets, machine weapons, images and indicators from battleground trenches. This all sat below the Lansdowne Park grandstand, capturing the eye of the various guests. A travelling roadshow of trophies additionally later grew to become an Armistice Day custom in lots of large Canadian cities.

An old black and white photo showing a number of people looking at old war memorabilia.
A photograph taken in 1919 of the conflict trophy show at Lansdowne Park. Unknown supply

A number of years in the past, {a photograph} was found within the holdings of Library and Archives Canada exhibiting a howitzer gun pointing down Wellington Road. Hintonburg historian Paulette Dozois wrote about this “Hintonburg Howitzer,” discovering that little was identified about the place it had come from, and simply as curiously, the place it disappeared to.

With assist from Alex Comber, a historian devoted to monitoring down Canada’s authentic conflict trophies, I found extra concerning the Hintonburg Howitzer.

Information present that the howitzer was captured by the 2nd Battalion (Jap Ontario Regiment), an infantry battalion of the Canadian Army. The 2nd Battalion fought at many necessary battles together with Ypres, Festubert, Vimy, Passchendaele and Canal du Nord, amongst others. By the tip of the conflict, 242 officers and 5,084 different ranks had fought with the battalion. Of these, 52 officers and 1,227 different ranks died of accidents, have been killed in motion or have been killed unintentionally.

The Hintonburg Howitzer was doubtless acquired alongside Canal du Nord in France in the course of the ultimate battles of “Canada’s Hundred Days,” the ultimate hundred days of the First World Struggle. Canada helped break the German military’s ultimate defensive positions, leaving the Germans in full retreat and bringing the conflict to an finish. The heroic 2nd Battalion returned to Canada on April 21, 1919.

The primary cargo of conflict trophies certain for Ottawa arrived at Lansdowne Park in April 1920 containing 5 prepare carloads with principally 4-1 howitzers. The Struggle Trophies Fee was chargeable for co-ordinating the supply to the varied museums of locations of exhibition.

Hintonburg’s German heavy howitzer was a 21 cm Mörser (mortar) gun, of 1916 sample. It had the serial quantity 1805. This was probably the most necessary kinds of heavy artillery utilized by the Germans as a result of it might supposedly destroy trenches and dugouts as much as 9,400 meters away. It additionally featured metal “footwear” on its wheels that helped it cross tough and muddy terrain.

The Hintonburg Howitzer briefly sat on the exhibition grounds at Lansdowne earlier than the village acquired it for show. It was doubtless put in at Somerset Sq. within the mid-Nineteen Twenties, the place it proudly stood for round a decade and a half.

By Might 1934, the Hintonburg Howitzer was apparently in the way in which of progress. The Civic Visitors Committee was contemplating the set up of visitors lights at two intersections: the corners of Preston and Somerset, and Wellington and Somerset. 

Alderman W.H. Marsden filed a report with the Board of Management stating that the gun had grow to be a menace and was “merely an attraction for boys.” The Visitors Committee needed to spherical off Somerset Sq. and set up the lights. It was proposed the previous howitzer be taken and disposed of on the metropolis dump on Bayview Highway. 

In late July, the Visitors Committee requested the Industrial and Publicity Committee in the event that they have been within the howitzer for the vacationer campground at Lansdowne Park. The Publicity Committee politely declined the provide, because the campground already featured a German gun.

In an editorial titled “Who needs an enormous gun?” the Ottawa Journal wrote: “They have been tangible demonstrations of a fantastic victory. Now they’re ugly plenty of rusty iron much less helpful than virtually anything on this planet, much less decorative than a tree, of not a lot curiosity to anybody.”

The editorial singled out “one among these nice hideous weapons” on the nook of Wellington and Somerset, suggesting it “may as nicely be dumped in a deep gap within the river.” Apparently, First World Struggle victory delight had waned.

An aerial photo from May 1934 showing the howitzer in place in the triangle of Somerset Square.
An aerial photograph from Might 1934 exhibiting the howitzer in place within the triangle of Somerset Sq..

On Aug. 9, the Board of Management agreed to take away the gun and authorized the $10 expenditure (round $210 at the moment) to move it to Bayview yard.

Shortly earlier than it was moved, the gun had one ultimate spotlight. On the afternoon of Aug. 25, 1934, two Toronto males caught committing cheque fraud fled a Sparks Road enterprise. Throughout their escape, the pair stuffed 68 solid cheques into the muzzle of the Somerset Sq. gun. The cheques have been discovered by native kids and handed over to police.

The howitzer was quickly moved, and visitors lights have been put in that fall at Wellington and Somerset. 

In Might 1936, Dominion Archivist J.F. Kenney wrote a involved letter to Metropolis Council concerning the situation of six conflict trophies given to the Metropolis of Ottawa. He famous that the Hintonburg Howitzer was sitting on “muddy soil north of the C.P.R. roundhouse,” sinking into the bottom, and in rusty situation with dry rot set into the wood elements. The muzzle was filled with trash, together with previous wooden, paper and cigarette butts. 

The archivist was upset on the situation of this and the 5 different weapons, and needed to retake possession to maneuver it to a extra appreciative municipality. The Metropolis voted to spend $85 (round $1,750 at the moment) to restore 4 weapons at Lansdowne Park, and to return the previous Hintonburg gun to the Archives.

From there, proof signifies that the gun was moved to the Archives on Sussex Drive. Alex Comber suggests, “it could have been saved on the river aspect of the unique (Dominion Archives) constructing, or presumably nearer to the Royal Canadian Mint constructing.”

In Oct. 1940, Mayor Stanley Lewis set off controversy when he agreed to donate a number of First World Struggle trophies nonetheless on show to the native Boy Scouts as a part of their scrap metallic marketing campaign. The Dominion Archives stepped in, declaring the weapons have been nonetheless the federal authorities’s property and could be repurposed if the Metropolis didn’t want to preserve them additional.

Shortly after, the federal authorities enacted the same plan, melting down previous conflict trophies to make new weapons for the Second World Struggle. 

Deputy Minister of the Public Archives Lanctot wrote: “The current conflict has created a brand new situation, and a fantastic many individuals are anxious to return these weapons to Germany in a approach that it’s hoped will assist our trigger, and imagine that to show these weapons over as scrap metallic is the easiest way to attain this objective.” 

By 1942, it was reported that 343 heavy howitzers and discipline weapons, 110 trench mortars and 262 machine weapons from the First World Struggle had gone again to Europe within the type of bombs, shells and bullets. 

Information point out the Hintonburg Howitzer met this destiny someday in 1941, a choice that without end melted away a part of the neighborhood’s wartime historical past.

A howitzer on display at the war museum in Ottawa. People can be seen mingling at a function in the background.
A 21 centimeter Morser on show on the Nationwide Struggle Museum in Ottawa. It’s just like the one which was situated in Hintonburg. Wikipedia Picture

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