“To commemorate those in the service of Canadian Pacific Railway who, at the call of King and Country left all that was dear to them, endured hardship, faced danger and finally passed out of sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom, their names will not be forgotten, 1914 - 1918, 1939 - 1945.” — Plaque inscription.
The haunting statue, simply entitled “Angel of Victory,” that has graced Vancouver’s Canadian Pacific Railway Station for nearly a century was commissioned by the company in 1921 to serve as a fitting epitaph for the 1,115 employees they lost during the course of the Great War. Its beautiful design, just one of many submitted from a nationwide design contest, is the work of a Montreal artist by the name of Coeur de Lion MacCarthy.
At the time of his commission, MacCarthy was one of Canada’s leading sculptors, and had established a robust portfolio dedicated to creating models of prominent political figures. However, it seems as though like many, he was moved by the sacrifice of the thousands of young men during the Great War, and immediately following its conclusion in 1918 he began offering his services to create monuments to honour Canada’s lost generation. His works commemorating those span the country, and are among its most endeared. Calgary’s "Victory Statue,” Montreal’s “Monument to the Braves of Verdun,” Trois-Rivieres’ “Monument to the Braves,” and the Lethbridge, Knowlton, and Niagara Falls cenotaphs all share a common, honest and brutally sympathetic portrayal of Canada’s dead. The soldiers in his works are never handsome or standout, they never look overly patriotic or determined. Instead, they always appear as ordinary men, brooding and somber in their task; the Trois-Riviere monument is particularly noteworthy in this regard, as it depicts a Canadian ready to thrust his bayonet into an unseen enemy — the contempt of this action on the statue’s face is palatable.