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Holden Cenotaph


Other Names:
War Memorial

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Holden Cenotaph is a military memorial consisting of a sculpted First World War soldier on a river rock base constructed in 1923. The base has a marble plaque on the south facade, and a bronze plaque on the east facade. The Holden Cenotaph is located in the centre of the intersection of 50 Street (Main Street) and 50 Avenue, and is mounted on a concrete base measuring 2.5 meters square.

Heritage Value
The Holden Cenotaph is significant in the village of Holden as a landmark, as a war memorial, for its association with the Holden Royal Canadian Legion #56, and for its association with Major Frank Norbury.

The Holden Cenotaph is valued as a Holden landmark. The location of the cenotaph in the centre of Main Street, at its junction with 50th Avenue, places it in the most prominent intersection and on the highest elevation of the community. The Cenotaph is an iconic monument that contributes to village identity. This unique location has been preserved since the unveiling of the Cenotaph and it is a continual point of reference and of interest for visitors and residents alike.

The Cenotaph is valued as a memorial to those community members who served in the military during wartime. It was erected in 1923 to honour soldiers from the Holden area that lost their lives during World War I. The plaque on the front bears the names of those who died in the war from 1914 to 1918 and also recognizes the number of others who served. In 1952, a bronze plaque was added to the east side of the base with the names of those who died during World War II, from 1939 to 1945.

The Cenotaph is valued for its association with the Holden Royal Canadian Legion #56. The Legion originated as the Great War Veterans’ Association in 1919. It was this organization that planned and funded the Cenotaph, and also chose its location with permission from Village Council. The Ladies Auxiliary assisted with design of the front memorial plaque and with fundraising for the monument. The Cenotaph was unveiled during a ceremonial parade, organized by the veterans, on July 4th, 1923 and was dedicated by Anglican Bishop Henry Allan Gray of Edmonton. The Cenotaph remained a part of the community, under ownership and control of the veteran’s association through various transitions to the present-day Legion. The Legion funded, designed and installed the bronze Second World War memorial plaque on the east side of the rock base, in 1952. They discussed moving the Cenotaph in 1955 and again in 1969, but the suggestion was never approved. The Holden branch of the Royal Canadian Legion marches to the Cenotaph every year on Remembrance Day meeting with local Cadets and area residents of all ages, to honour fallen veterans. This ritual fulfills the original intended purpose of the Cenotaph.

The Holden Cenotaph is important for its association with Major Frank Norbury, an English-Canadian sculptor. Norbury was born in Liverpool, England in 1871. He trained and worked as a sculptor from a young age, completing many works in his native city. He served in the military during the First World War then came to Canada in 1920 and settled in Edmonton. Holden’s Cenotaph is one of two known sculptures of a soldier completed by Norbury in Alberta. Holden’s monument depicts a soldier taking cover in ruined masonry, looking east toward the enemy, preparing to throw a Mills bomb. The detail in the soldier’s attire is evidence of the sculptor’s war experience. Norbury’s artistic ability conveys a sense that the soldier is standing on guard, ready to defend. Norbury became well-known in Alberta and was active in the arts community all of his life.

Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Holden Cenotaph resides in the form, massing, and materials, particularly the:

-Original sculpture by Frank Norbury of a man in a First World War soldier’s uniform, carrying a rifle and bayonet in his left hand and a Mills bomb in his right hand; the soldier looks to the left (east) while the body faces south;
-River rock base ;
-Marble plaque on the south façade, engraved by Frank Norbury, which reads, “LEST WE FORGET” and lists the names of those who died in the First World War and mentions that 71 others from the Holden area also served. Below that is a quote from “In Flanders Field”, followed by “ERECTED BY HOLDEN BRANCH GREAT WAR VETERANS 1923.”;
-Metal plaque on the east façade that reads, “IN MEMORY OF OUR FALLEN COMRADES 1939 – 1945” followed by a list of nine names; and
-The cenotaph’s orientation on its original site.


Street Address: Intersection of 50 Street (Main Street) and 50 Avenue
Community: Holden
Boundaries: Centre of the intersection of 50 Street (Main Street) and 50 Avenue
Contributing Resources: Structures: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.233121 -112.234951

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2014/11/17

Historical Information

Built: 1923/01/01
Significant Date(s) 1923 to 2016
Historic Function(s): Community : Commemorative Monument
Current Function(s): Community : Commemorative Monument
Builder: Major H. G. Norbury

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0359
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: www.village.holden.ab.ca
Data Source: Village of Holden, 4810 - 50 Street, Box 357, Holden, AB T0B 2C0 (File: Heritage Inventory #6)
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