Five hundred and sixty-five names etched into black granite reflect the heart of Montgomery Place.
In 2010 Montgomery Place Community Association President Barb Biddle undertook the mammoth task of compiling names of veterans who built or bought in Montgomery Place between 1946 and 1977 under the Veterans Land Act (VLA) soldier settlement program. VLA loans ended in 1977.
Contacts were made with Veterans Affairs in Ottawa, other federal, provincial and civic departments, libraries and archives. After countless telephone calls, letters, emails, and visits, 563 names were gathered.
Barb began her search at the Saskatoon Library, moved on to Legions and online Legion publications, checked records at Woodlawn Cemetery, and referenced the St. David’s Trinity United Church listing of church member vets who had died. The challenge was to differentiate veterans from civilians who were also allowed to acquire homes in the early years of Montgomery Place. Because of privacy restrictions, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs could not verify any information, making the search that much more difficult. An appeal to our Member of Parliament was fruitless. Veterans Affairs did send an original map, but otherwise their files were empty. No information existed in the Saskatoon City Archives.
Barb claims that the greatest help came from veterans like Robbie Harder, Joey Kiss andBob Atkinson and from former and current residents who answered an appeal in the Montgomery Place newsletter and the St. David’s Trinity newsletter. Montgomery folks were surveyed, interviewed, cajoled and quizzed to test their memories of former neighbours, friends and residents.
A testament to Barb Biddle’s thoroughness, only one name was included erroneously and only three names were inadvertently omitted. Sandblasting in the summers of 2014 and 2015 removed a name and added three – for a grand total of 565 names.
At a ceremony on June 22, 2013 the monument in Montgomery Park was dedicated as part of a community gathering. The corner of Rockingham Avenue and Caen Street has since become a magnet for ex-pat Montgomery folks, visitors and present-day residents who visit the Monument of Names, seeking a reminder of family roots and connections etched into the black granite.