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Walter Seymour Allward (November 18, 1876April 24, 1955) was a Canadianmarker monumental sculptor.


Early life

Allward was born in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, the son of John A. Allward of Newfoundlandmarker. Educated in Toronto public schools, his first job was at the age of 14 as an assistant to his carpenter father. 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. There he showed skill in clay mold making. This early training, supplemented by modelling classes at the New Technical School prepared Allward for his lifelong career as monumental sculpture.

Early work

Allward's first commission was for the figure of Peace on the North-West Rebellion Monument (1895) in Queen's Parkmarker, Toronto. Other early works included a life-sized figure of Dr Oronhyatekha commissioned by the Independent Order of Foresters (1899) and the Old Soldier, commemorating the War of 1812 in Portland Square, Toronto (1903). In 1903 Allward was elected an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy and in 1918 became a full academician. Now well established he received commissions to do busts of Lord Tennyson, Sir Charles Tupper, Sir Wilfred Laurier and others. On the grounds of Queen’s Park are statues of General John Graves Simcoe and Sir Oliver Mowat, completed in 1903 and 1905 respectively.

Heroic monuments

Allward true talent lay in his heroic monuments. These included the design work for the Boer War Memorial Fountain in Windsormarker, Ontariomarker (1906), the South African War Memorialmarker in Toronto (1910), The Baldwin-Lafontaine Monument on Parliament Hillmarker in Ottawamarker (1914) and the Bell Memorial commemorating Alexander Graham Bell in Brantford, Ontario (1917). Allward had also completed designed work on a memorial to King Edward VII but the onset of the World War I prevented its completion. Rather the figures of Truth and Justice were cast in bronze and can now be found outside the Supreme Court of Canadamarker in Ottawa. Alward also designed numerous municipal cenotaphsmarker around the country, including the Stratford Memorial (1922), the Peterborough Memorial (1929) and the Brant War Memorial. (1933).

Vimy Memorial

The most important and famous commission Allward received was for the monument to commeorate Canadians killed in the First World War, a project which would occupy him from 1921 till the memorial's unveiling in 1936. Allward made 150 design sketches before submitting the design which won the commission from the Canadian federal government. The Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission eventually seletected Vimy Ridge as the location for the memorial, due largely to its elevation above the plain below, as the preferred site of Allward's design. In June 1922 Allward set up a studio in Londonmarker, Englandmarker and toured for more almost two years to find a find a stone of the right colour, texture, and luminosity for the memorial. He eventually found it in the ruins of Diocletian's Palace. Known as Seget limestone, it was a stone that came from an ancient Roman quarry located in Croatiamarker. As a consequence, the stone had to be first quarried then shipped by boat to France and then transported to Vimy Ridge by truck and by rail.

Allward chose a relatively new construction method, a cast concrete frame to which the limestone was bonded. The memorial base and twin pylons contain almost 6,000 tonnes of a Seget limestone. The 20 sculptured figures which grace the memorial were actually carved where they now stand, from the huge blocks of stone. The carvers used half-size plaster models produced by Allward in his studio and an instrument called a pantograph to reproduce the huge figures to the proper scale. All this work was carried out inside temporary studios built around each figure, including those at the top of the pylons.


The art of Walter Allward lives on in numerous substantial monument and designs in Canada and abroad. Many of his personal tools were bequeathed to his protege Emanuel Hahn who in turn gifted some to his protege Elizabeth Bradford Holbrook. Today some of those tools are being used by Canadian sculptor Christian Cardell Corbet as gifted to him by his mentor Bradford Holbrook.


  1. 66–69


  • Toronto Globe and Mail, April 25, 1955
  • Toronto Star, April 25, 1955

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