Last month when I was in Winnipeg, I went to the Manitoba Museum to see a special display -- three sets of Canadian war medals from World War I, all of which included the extremely rare Victoria Cross. In the British Imperial military honours system which applied to Canada in those days, the Victoria Cross was the highest decoration possible. It was given for "valour in the face of the enemy" and, by its very nature, was often a posthumous award.
These particular Victoria Crosses belonged to three Winnipeg soldiers -- Lieutenant Robert Shankland, Sargeant-Major Frederick William Hall and Corporal Leo Clarke. Only Shankland survived his heroic action to receive the award in person.
But what makes these Victoria Crosses unique in the world is the improbable coincidence that, before joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force, all three of these soldiers had lived within a block of each other on Pine Street in Winnipeg. What are the astronomical odds that a single city block would produce three VCs?
So shortly after World War I, Winnipeg honoured its "Pine Street boys" by renaming their home street "Valour Road."
Today, Valour Road is marked with special signage to indicate the street's historical and military status.
These large signs run up and down the length of the street.
And at one intersection, behind a fringe of these same signs, there is a freestanding stone and metal memorial to Shankland, Hall and Clarke.
The three soldiers also appear on other signs that decorate the street.
Their medals and VCs are part of the permanent collection of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. This special exhibit was loaned to the Manitoba Museum to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. The display will return to Ottawa after Remembrance Day.
[First photo by Phil Hossack, Winnipeg Free Press. All other photos by Debra She Who Seeks, October 2014]