Old news clippings tell the story of Revelstoke’s patriotic maples

Editor’s note:

Here, courtesy of the Revelstoke Museum & Archives are two very old stories from the Revelstoke Review in 1917 that describes the “patriotic tree planting.” Two of the original trees that were planted in front of the Court House were cut down on Wednesday. You can read about that here.

May 17, 1917 – Revelstoke Review:

The patriotic tree planting to take place Wednesday May 23 on the Court House grounds. The trees have arrived from the fumigation station, Vancouver and will be planted at once. His Worship Mayor McKinnon and the clergymen of the city have consented to take part and will deliver short addresses. The city schools with their teachers will attend in a body and Captain Hanbury has kindly promised the attendance of the men of the Forestry draft being recruited here. Tha arrangement is under the auspices of the Women’s Canadian Club and is intended as a memorial or tribute in honour of our Revelstoke boys who have taken up arms in defence of the Empire. Maple trees are to be palnted as the Maple Leaf is the badge worn by all our boys.

Turn out Wednesday and do honor to the boys of the Maple Leaf:

God save our splendid men,

Send them safe home again;

God save our men.

Keep them victorious,

Patient and chivalrous,

They are so dear to us.

God save our men.


May 31, 1917 – Revelstoke Review:

Memorial Tree Planting at Court House

Wednesday May 23rd, 1917, is a day which will go down on record in the history of Revelstoke, for on that date the citizens of Revelstoke turned out in hundreds to do honor to their boys who have taken up arms in the service of their country. The Women’s Canadian Club organized this undertaking.

With the approval and financial support of the government forty hard maples from the east were planted around the entire Court House block as a living memorial or tribute to those boys from Revelstoke and vicinity who today wear the Maple Leaf as their badge.

The men from the Forestry Battalion, under Captain Hanbury, and led by the band, met the children of the Selkirk School with Principal Bassett and teachers at MacKenzie Avenue, and marched down Second Street; the High School, led by Principal Scriven, and Central School, led by Principal Price, falling in, making an imposing and pretty procession, with the children proudly carrying aloft their Union Jacks.

Entering the main grounds by the main entrance on Second Street, the entire assembly brought up en masse on the beautiful lawn before the balcony at the Court House from which the speakers addressed the audience.

The proceedings opened with God Save The King by the bans. Mrs. Coursier of the Women’s Canadian Club was the first speaker.

“You have met here today to do honour in a small way to the brave boys from Revelstoke who have taken up arms in defence of the Empire. Not only for the Empire as a power but also for the safety of those of us who have been left at home. War is the most severe test of citizenship. This test requires the practice of true heroism and we are here to do honour to the memory of these men whose bravery on the field of battle is the bulwark of our homes. It takes occasions of this kind to make us value at its full that sublime courage which has shown us much more that men can be made to realize the power of that sacred spirit of patriotism which raises the ordinary soldier to the rank of a hero.

All across Canada today Maple trees are being planted in honour and to the  memory of the boys of the Maple Leaf, and it is after all a small tribute that we in Revelstoke should do likewise. A tree is symbolic of the growth of the smaller to the greater and Canada today is really only beginning to take root and grow and so these sapling trees we plant today grow larger and larger, so Canada will also, by the memory of these boys we have met to honour, grow  larger and larger and we as Canadians can hold up our heads in pride at the place our beloved country has earned through the service and sacrifice of the lads of the Maple Leaf.

In remembering our boys today let us especially remember those brave lads who are sleeping beneath the sods of France and who will not return. To fathers and mothers who are weeping today over the death of their boys, let me extend the sympathy of the Women’s Canadian Club of Revelstoke, it may be our turn to weep tomorrow.” (The casualty lists of the Revelstoke boys killed at Vimy had just started to be known in the city).

The Mayor spoke next. (His brother had just recently been killed at Vimy). “It is but a small thing to plant some trees in honour of our boys, but it will show they are not forgotten and will in years to come serve to remind these children assembled here today what they owe to the brave lads who gave up splendid positions and loved ones and adopted the Maple Leaf as their badge, many of them to go down to their death, that we might live in safety. Let us not forget them but prepare in a substantial way to receive with open arms those who may be spared to return.”

Rev. Raeburn Gibson’s address contained the following: “We are meeting this war successfully because we recognize that this is a gigantic struggle involving issues of supreme importance to the Empire and of absolute vitality to the liberty and civilization of the whole world.”

After some ceremonial trees were planted the maple Leaf Forever was sung by all present, followed by three cheers for the lads of the Maple Leaf. The crowds then dispersed after singing God Save The King.