Here is No Giant Warrior God

Bank of Montreal Memorial of the Great War. (P. Ferguson image July 2017)

Bank of Montreal Memorial of the Great War.
(P. Ferguson image July 2017)

Strength and Determination

Here is no giant warrior god on a high pedestal, but a man.
He is tough, ready for the fight, his feet apart, arms held loosely
by his sides ready. His helmet is just slightly at an angle, and,
under its brim, his face reflects strength and determination.

(A.L. Freundlich, The Sculpture of James Earle Fraser. 2001)

Winnipeg, the corner of Portage and Main an imposing bronze statue nearly three metres in height stands in commemoration of the Bank’s Great War soldiers. The bank’s book on the subject of their employees during the Great War, Memorial of the Great War (Bank of Montreal) 1914-1918 A Record of Service (1921), has always been a fine resource for learning a little extra of these soldier-banker’s lives. In all 1,409 employees served during the Great War and of these 230 did not return. Specific to Winnipeg the local branch saw 53 of their staff serve during the war, nine lost their lives. Winnipeg’s Bank of Montreal soldier statue was unveiled 5 December 1923 replacing a temporary cenotaph on the same site from 1920-1923.

The bronze is modelled on a bank employee and Canadian Field Artillery veteran, Wynn Bagnall, by the American sculptor James Earle Fraser. Bagnall was a gunner who was commissioned, Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Military Cross for the Battle of Cambrai in 1918. After the war Bagnall briefly returned to his employer and subsequently relocated to Manhattan in the United States where he died in 1931.

Sculptor James Earl Fraser. (Wiki Image)

Sculptor James Earl Fraser.
(Wiki Image)

The sculptor, James Earl Fraser, is known for works such as the sculpture End of the Trail located in Waupun, Wisconsin, the Buffalo nickel coin, the American Victory Medal of the Great War and the United States Navy and Marine Corps’ Navy Cross. Fraser’s work is also prominently featured in Washington, D.C.

Awarded the Military Cross
Captain Wynn Bagnall
Attached 60th Battery, 14th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery

For marked gallantry and initiative. On 1st October, 1918, during fighting in suburbs of Cambrai, our infantry were suffering severe casualties from enemy machine guns situated behind a railway embankment. He took forward one gun of his battery to within 500 yards of our posts, in order to enfilade this embankment. Under heavy fire he got the gun into action and succeeded in silencing the machine guns, enabling our line to be slightly advanced.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


Leave a Reply