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This article was published 11/4/2017 (1269 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Andrew Moreau was a farm labourer who signed his name with an "X" when he joined the army in Treherne and went to fight for his country in northern France during the First World War.
A century later, a lake in Manitoba bears the name of the private who didn’t know how to read or write, but knew what it meant to put his country and fellow Canadians ahead of himself.
"It’s a tremendous honour," Maj. Jason Graveline, Moreau’s great-grandson, said at a ceremony at the Manitoba legislature Monday.
The ceremony commemorated the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. Thirteen Manitobans who died during the First World War were honoured by the premier and the lieutenant governor. Family members of the fallen soldiers for whom Manitoba lakes in the Flin Flon area have been named were presented with plaques by Lt-Gov. Janice Filmon and Premier Brian Pallister.
"We felt kind of overwhelmed with emotion," Moreau’s great-granddaughter, Danielle Burr, said after the ceremony. Her son, Carson Burr, as well as his cousin, air cadet Ethan Graveline, watched as Maj. Graveline accepted the plaque showing where to find Moreau Lake on a Manitoba map.
After the solemn event, Moreau’s great-grandson said visiting Moreau Lake is on his "bucket list." Maj. Graveline says he wants to see the lake named for his maternal great-grandfather, a man whose history he’s researched.
Moreau was born in North Dakota in 1891 and moved to Treherne, where he worked as a farm labourer and married a local woman named Emma.
"From his attestation papers when he signed up I knew he wasn’t able to write because he actually made an X rather than a signature," said Graveline. Before leaving Canada, Moreau’s son — Graveline’s "Grandpa Mike" — was born in 1914.
Moreau joined the 222nd Battalion in Treherne, then transferred to the 8th Battalion made up of many Manitobans, said Graveline. Overseas, Moreau survived the Vimy campaign but was killed during a battle shortly afterward at a town called Arleux, he said.
"He has no known grave." He was just 26 years old. Moreau’s name was inscribed on the Vimy National Memorial in France.
Now it’s on the map — as the name of a lake in Manitoba, a province that has 100,000 lakes, 90,000 of which have names.
In 1995, the province completed the naming of lakes, islands and bays after the more than 4,000 Manitoba casualties from the Second World War. Now Manitoba is matching the lakes, bays and islands with the names of casualties from the First World War.
The databank for Manitobans killed in the First World War now tallies about 8,200.
Sisters Marjorie Fortier and Louise Thomas aren’t sure if they will ever get to remote Evared Wright Lake north of Flin Flin, named after their great-uncle, Pte. Evared I. Wright. What is important, the sisters said at Monday’s ceremony, is that the sacrifice of those who died serving their country is not forgotten.
"He’s remembered," Fortier said after the ceremony in the legislature’s regal Manitoba Room.
"What the soldiers went through was horrendous," Thomas said.
"It’s touching," Maj. Graveline said. "Amongst the slaughter of World War I, here we are taking time to commemorate 13 Manitobans that none of us knew. By 1917 they were all dead — these Manitobans who willingly gave everything and here we are 100 years later commemorating them. I think it’s incredibly special."
In terms of lives, Manitoba gave more per capita than any other province during the First World War, Pallister said at the ceremony. That spirit of giving has continued, the premier told the crowd that included British Consul General Caroline Saunders from Calgary and France’s honorary consul, Bruno Burnichon.
"When Manitobans see a problem, we are the first to lend a hand," Pallister said at the ceremony.
"We see a challenge, we face it together. We never turn our back on those in need. We consistently lead the country of Canada in volunteerism and in supporting charities."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Updated on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 7:41 AM CDT: Adds photo
9:16 AM: Corrects name in photo
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