According to the Canadian Military Memorials data base of Veterans Affairs Canada, there are two national monuments in Brampton. They are the Brampton Cenotaph, located on Memorial Square in front of City Hall, and the Wall of Remembrance; a National Wall for the Korean War, inscribed with the names of the 516 Canadians who died in that war located in Meadowvale Cemetery.
While Brampton started to commemorate Remembrance Day on November 11, 1920, it was not at that time a community involved event.
The 1st Remembrance Day services were held at the Brampton Armouries on Chapel Street and observed in most, if not all of, the churches in Brampton at that time. However, leading Brampton Citizens and prominent Veterans of WWI formed a committee and the idea of a Brampton Cenotaph was born. Now the community could assemble as a whole and honour those of Brampton who made the ultimate sacrifice. The Town of Brampton hired Mackenzie Waters, a Toronto architect, to design the monument, who later went on to design Maple Leaf Gardens. The Cenotaph was funded through donations made by the Citizens and businesses of Brampton.
Designed in the ‘Roman style” it was meant to be tall and slender and rise above the crowd around it. It is made of Canadian grey granite and the main theme is “Service, Sacrifice and Victory” The main inscription reads “"To perpetuate the Memory of our Glorious Dead and to gratefully recognize the sacrifice of the Men of Brampton in the Great War, 1914 - 1918”. Battle honours from WWI were also inscribed on all 4 faces of the monument. This signifies “Sacrifice”. On the reverse side are the words "These thought not of self but gave their lives for us" as an expression of not only Sacrifice but also of Service and the cost thereof and on the very top of the Cenotaph is “Wreath of Victory” which symbolically bestows to all below its ribbons of Victory onto the wreaths that are laid there annually and in memoriam to the Fallen.
The monument continues to express a symbol of Service in the gradual rise from the level of inaction through to service and sacrifice to the great achievement rewarded by the Wreath of Victory at the very pinnacle of the Cenotaph. Above the original inscription on the face of the monument is the crest of the Town of Brampton rendered in brass. Behind that crest is a small crypt that contains a sealed Memorial Book. The Memorial Book contains the names of Veterans of Brampton since WWI and is updated approximately every 10 years or so. In later years, honours were added to the Cenotaph for WWII, Korea, Afghanistan, and the War of 1812 so that all Bramptonians who served, even from the very beginnings of this community, are now recognized. The finished monument was unveiled on July 4th 1928 by Governor General Lord Willingdon. From that moment on, Brampton had a suitable location for the community to gather as a whole, to honour the service and sacrifice of fellow Bramptonians. The unveiling of the Cenotaph by Lord Willington on July 4, 1928, was attended by thousands from the area. The tradition of great attendance by Bramptonians has not faltered since that time. While inclement weather in some years may keep some at home, the Remembrance Day ceremony continues to attract thousands, and Brampton has recently had to take the measure of broadcasting live while the service is in progress to allow the overflow of citizens attending in person.
In June of 1931, the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire presented to the Town of Brampton, a mast and Union Jack to be flown over the Cenotaph. It remains there to this day and currently flies the UN Flag with the National Flag on a nearby companion flag mast added later.
The square on which the Cenotaph resides is called Memorial Square. It is adjacent to Ken Whillans Square in front of City Hall and has been there since the unveiling of the Cenotaph in 1928. While the area around the Cenotaph has changed dramatically since 1928, the monument continues to be prominent in the downtown environment, with the Cenotaph and Memorial Square still being owned by Maj. Wm. Dwight Sharpe Branch 15 of the Royal Canadian Legion and maintained and preserved by The City of Brampton.