Walter Seymour Allward

 Walter Seymour Allward, sculptor (b at Toronto 18 Nov 1876; d there 24 April 1955.) Known as "Allward of Vimy," Walter Allward gained his reputation largely on the basis of the mammoth Canadian Battlefields Memorial in Vimy, France (1922-36), that commemorated the important battle of VIMY RIDGE (April 1917) and the over 11 000 Canadians listed as missing in action during the FIRST WORLD WAR.

Allward first served an apprenticeship with the architectural firm Gibson and Simpson before working at the Don Valley Brick Works, where he modelled architectural ornaments. This early training, supplemented by modelling classes at the New Technical School, prepared him for his lifelong career, that of monumental sculpture.

Early Work

Allward's early work included the figure of "Peace" on the North-West Rebellion Monument in Queen's Park, Toronto (1895); The Old Soldier, commemorating the War of 1812 in Portland Square, Toronto (1903); and a life-sized figure of Dr Oronhyatekha (chief ranger) commissioned by the Independent Order of Foresters (1899).

His reputation well established, Allward was commissioned to execute busts for the Provincial Museum, Toronto, including busts of Lord Tennyson, Sir Charles Tupper, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Oliver Mowat and others. Also on the grounds of Queen's Park are statues of General John Graves Simcoe (1903) and Sir Oliver Mowat (1905). In 1903 Allward was elected an associate of the ROYAL CANADIAN ACADEMY, and in 1918 became a full academician. His diploma work, The Storm (c 1920, bronze), is in the collection of the NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA.

Heroic Monuments

Allward's real talent lay in his heroic monuments, which include The South African Memorial, Toronto (1910) (he also designed The Boer War Memorial Fountain in Windsor, 1906), The Bell Memorial, Brantford (1917), The Baldwin-Lafontaine Monument on Parliament Hill, Ottawa (1914) and a design for a King Edward VII memorial. The onset of the First World War prevented the completion of the latter, but 2 figures, "Truth" and "Justice," were cast in bronze, and today flank the entrance of the Supreme Court Building in Ottawa. An almost identical figure of "Justice" was used on The Vimy Memorial years later.

Other memorials to the First World War include The Stratford Memorial (1922) and The Peterborough Memorial (1929). Allward won the Vimy commission in 1921 and moved to London, England, the following year, where he set up a studio. He made regular trips to Vimy over the next several years. The Vimy Memorial was unveiled 26 July 1936 by King Edward VIII in the presence of 6 000 Canadians who had travelled to witness the event.

Upon his return to Canada in August 1936, Allward designed the William Lyon Mackenzie Memorial in Queen's Park (1940), and a monument, which never materialized, to Sir Frederick Banting after his sudden death in 1941.