From the school system we were almost forced to accept that the history of southern Ontario towns were extremely dull. Epic battles of glory were for elsewhere; small town Ontario is about simple dependability and slow growth: clearing forests, setting up roads, etc etc. But despite all the tales of churches and walking, once in a while a sweet chunk of history drops to the occasion.
On the outskirts of Victoria Lake in Kitchener, you can find a modest granite monument that tells of one such chunk. In 1871, King Wilhelm I of Prussia united the Germanic states after victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The resulting Peace of Frankfurt treaty led to the rowdy and down right awesome Friedenfest in the very German town of Berlin, ON (Kitchener). With European peace sill around 25 years later, the town figured it’d splurge and in 1897 a massive monument and bust of the Kaiser himself was unveiled amidst more drunken revelries.
However, when World War I began, associations with Germany were no longer ideal. The Kaiser bust was promptly tossed into Victoria Lake and has since disappeared. Soon after, the granite monument itself was broken up by the Victoria Park board. The symbol of peace and pride (which as we know does not really help peace) was destroyed because of the war.
Recently a new monument was erected, and a plaque reads: “May it serve in the spirit of the original memorial as we seek peace for all people for all time.” Hopefully this humble testament to peace can keep us from the horrors of war. But I have to admit it is rad that the symbol of universal peace is in Kitchener.
Woo! Town pride!