Standing behind the newly mounted Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus ‘Cy’ Wesley Peck memorial is Kathleen Larkin, Deputy Librarian, Mayor Lee Brain, Dave Walker, Royal Canadian Legion, John McNish, Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives, Peter Allen-Reid, Commissionaires Security, Karen Basso, Rotary Club president and Michelle Bryant-Gravelle, president of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Victoria Cross recipient remembered with stone memorial

Prince Rupert pioneer and veteran Lt. Col. Cyrus Peck given place of honour by the sea

A World War One veteran, Canadian politician and Prince Rupert pioneer will forever be remembered along the waterfront overlooking the Metlakatla Passage.

“I think he’s the greatest hero to come from Prince Rupert,” said historian and Rotarian John McNish on Aug. 31 at the small presentation honouring Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus ‘Cy’ Wesley Peck.

A stone memorial, with an engraved plaque outlining Col. Cy Peck as a “Legendary Canadian Citizen Soldier” has been mounted by the Kwinitsa Station near the Pacific Ocean.

Prince Rupert remembered this historic figure after a request came to the library to find more information about the man. Deputy librarian Kathleen Larkin said they were doing research on Peck and found that it’s customary to recognize a Victoria Cross recipient. She reached out to the Director of B.C. Veterans Commemorative Association and they provided Peck’s plaque.

Larkin learned that “Col. Peck had asked some of his ashes to be spread in Metlakatla Pass because it was one of his favourite places so we placed it [his memorial] so when you read the plaque you’re facing the pass,” she said.

He had died in 1956 of a heart attack after a storied life as a military leader, federal and provincial politician and businessman.

Pioneering for gold in the Klondike brought Peck to the area and in 1903, with his partner Donald M. Moore, they financed and built Cassiar Cannery. Four years later started the Georgetown Sawmill Company, located 27 kilometres north of the city.

His hero status comes from being awarded the Victoria Cross — the highest military honour in the Commonwealth — for bravery in 1918 after serving with the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion overseas.

At 47 years old, he joined the war with Britain and France against Germany. In one of the bloodiest battles of the war — the Battle of the Somme in 1916 — he led his battalion as the first commanding officer of the regiment. Peck’s leadership and courage awarded him the Distinguished Service Order.

He was recognized once again for fighting near Cagnicourt in France along the Drocourt-Quéant Line where he risked his life to determine the enemy position, allowing his battalion, and others, to reorganize and advance.

During his time overseas he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Skeena in British Columbia in 1917, and he is the only MP to have been awarded the cross. He political career continued the Legislative Assembly for B.C. in 1924 and again in 1928. Peck was also an active member in the Chamber of Commerce.

“He really was an outstanding citizen in Prince Rupert,” McNish said, who had coordinated to have Peck’s plaque and memorial stone installed. Contributions for the memorial came from the Prince Rupert Rotary Club, the Prince Rupert Legion, the BC Veterans Commemorative Association, the Commissionaires and the City of Prince Rupert.

 

The Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus ‘Cy’ Wesley Peck memorial next to Kwinitsa Station. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus ‘Cy’ Wesley Peck. (Contributed)