The Creation of “Remembrance in Jade,” Canada’s first War Memorial in nephrite jade.
• public art collection District North Vancouver and Canadian National War Memorial Registry, Cates Park/Whey-ah-Wichen, North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Michael Binkley was commissioned to carve Canada’s first War Memorial in nephrite jade in the Spring of 2014. Carved from a 5 tonne boulder, the Memorial, “Remembrance in Jade” now resides at Roche Point in Cates Park / Whey ah Wichen in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Working in collaboration with the Municipality of the District of North Vancouver, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, The Royal Canadian Legion and project champion, Mick Webb, Binkley designed a simple memorial that incorporates Canada’s national symbol of the Maple Leaf. At left is the artist’s conceptual sketch for the Maple Leaf and (right) the 5 tonne jade boulder being craned into Binkley’s studio in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. The sculptor worked for three months to complete the Memorial.
Nephrite jade is an extremely hard material. It is harder than steel and traditional metal chisels used to carve other stones are useless for carving jade. Therefore, Binkley uses water cooled diamond bladed angel grinders to cut shallow frets very close together – close enough that the jade between the cuts will flake away. The carving process looks much different than the process to carve marble. Binkley then used diamond cup wheel angle grinders and rotary diamond points mounted on a pneumatic die grinder to shape and smooth the various surfaces of the Maple Leaf.
Using electric and pneumatic rotary diamond polishing pads, Binkley abraded the carved surfaces until they gleamed with a glassy brilliance. These areas revealed the true beauty of B.C.’s green nephrite jade, with all the lovely shades of deep green, blue, black and bright electric green in a swirling pattern.
After designing the layout for the text, Binkley engaged a monument engraver to carve the epitaphs. Nowadays, the text on monuments is carved using a rubber stencil and pressurized sand that is blasted at the exposed stone areas. This technique works well for marble and granite, but the engraver was leery about the sand’s effect on the very hard jade. However, the company is very talented and was able to get good depth of carving on the letters.
Both epitaphs were carved in the two official languages of Canada – English and French. The text, “In Honour Of Those Who Gave Their Lives For Freedom” was painted bright gold, while the Kohima Epitaph, “When you go home, tell them of us and say For their tomorrow, we gave our today” is left in natural colour.
The Memorial was installed in the summer of 2014 and a skirt of river rocks encircles it with a dais for wreathes to be placed on Remembrance Day, November 11.
The Memorial was dedicated on Monday, August 4, 2014, honouring the 100th anniversay of Canada entering the Great War, World War I. Dignataries from all three levels of Canadian Government were in attendance, with a marching on and off of a Full Colour Guard.