Belgian sculpture to honour Nova Scotia WW I veteran George Price
Sculptor travels to Port Williams, N.S., to find surviving relatives
The leader of a Belgian city commissioning a memorial to honour the Nova Scotian believed to be the last Commonwealth soldier killed in the First World War, says he wishes more Nova Scotians were aware of George Price's sacrifice.
Price, a farm labourer originally from Port Williams, N.S., was part of the last allied push that broke the German army.
He was shot and killed by a German sniper two minutes before the 11 a.m. armistice went into effect on Nov. 11, 1918. He was 26 at the time of his death.
Benoît Friart, bourgmestre in Le Roeulx, Belgium, said the city hosts an annual service to honour Price. They already have a memorial plaque, a bridge, and a school named after him, and they've commissioned a new sculpture.
"For us, in Le Roeulx, George Price is very important," Friart said. "George Price symbolizes the sacrifice of thousands of young people, thousands of soldiers who came from far away to give us back the freedom."
Friart told CBC's Information Morning, "it's important that your people ... know what George Price did for us."
Nova Scotia roadtrip
Francois Martig, one of three artists in the running to build the new Price sculpture in Le Roeulx, said he travelled to Nova Scotia this summer "to do some research, to see the landscape, to meet some people."
He said he visited Kingsport and got to meet Price's nephew, George Barkhouse. "It was a really amazing moment," Martig said.
Barkhouse shared some stories and family photos with him, he said.
Martig said Barkhouse had visited Belgium before, for the inauguration of the bridge in his uncle's name, and "he was really impressed by the welcome of Belgian people there."
"It was a really emotional moment when he explained this," Martig said.
Friart said the goal is to complete the sculpture in time for the 100th anniversary of Price's death, on Nov. 11, 2018.
The new memorial will serve "to give a better impression of what George Price did for us," Friart said. "It's very important for us."
Parks Canada display
Keith Mercer, a cultural resource manager with Parks Canada, said there is currently a display on the Halifax waterfront honouring George Price, part of a commemorative project called Hometown Heroes.
He said Price's story was a particularly tragic one, because "the cease fire had been agreed to several hours earlier, but it didn't reach all the front line soldiers."
At two minutes to 11 a.m., as Price was leading an advance party to try to locate a German machine gun nest, he was shot through the back "and he basically fell into the arms of his friend."
Photo: prized possession
Mercer said he visited Price's nephew in preparation for the Parks Canada display, and borrowed "one of his prized possessions, a beautiful, large, colour portrait of George Price off his wall."
He said Barkhouse visited Halifax recently to see the display and called Mercer on the phone.
"He thanked me — in his words — for what we'd done for his Uncle George."
With files from CBC's Information Morning