Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Red Deer Cemetery, Alberta



The Canadian Agency of the Commission was established in April 1921 by the Imperial War Graves Commission to commemorate the men and women who died during the designated war years and were buried in North America and Siberia.

From September 1921 to August 1953, the Agency was also asked to manufacture and place headstones for Canadian Veterans who had survived the war but whose deaths were deemed to be as a result of their service. This task was assigned by the Government of Canada through a series of renewable Privy Council Orders. In 1951, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) developed their own departmental program on behalf of the Government of Canada and assumed responsibility for commemorating any Veteran who qualified for a funeral and burial at the expense of Canada as well as the maintenance of the existing Privy Council headstones.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the Agency followed through with the production and installation of headstones for Second World War casualties in North America. The Canadian Agency also commenced a rudimentary visit programme to the war graves from the First World War located on the continent.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Canadian Agency commenced a more frequent visit programme across Canada and the United States in order to plot the exact locations of its 19,400 War Dead within 3,300 cemeteries and on five memorials. Since the 1990s the Agency has gradually put into place an inspection and maintenance cycle which follows the norms of the Commission elsewhere in the world. The inspection cycle evolved from a nine year to a six year rotation during the past three decades.

Today, twelve cyclical inspection trips, shared between six employees, are completed on a annual basis in the seventy-one regions of the Americas (including the Caribbean). The Agency's objectives are to evaluate the structural state of the headstones and memorials and their cleanliness; all resultant maintenance work is contracted out to private companies. Additional trips are completed to make more frequent visits to larger sites or manage particular projects. The Agency is also improving war graves plots where conditions permit in a manner similar to the Commission's cemeteries overseas. These horticultural embellishment projects are located at over sixty sites.

The Canadian Agency continues to accept contractual work outside its Charter tasks on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). Since 2004, it has been involved in a programme to find, photograph and enter into a VAC data base all headstones of Veterans buried in Canada at the expense of Canada and to carry out maintenance where required.

Modified: 2016-02-19
Copyright © 2007 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Canada)