Clarke, Shankland, Hall...Amazingly they all won the highest award for courage we could give them...the Victoria Cross. That's why we changed the name of Pine Street...to Valour Road.
Of the 69 Canadians (and of whom, only 14 were from Manitoba) who received the Victoria Cross during World War I, Sergeant-Major Frederick Hall, Corporal Leo Clarke and Lieutenant Robert Shankland lived on the same block of the same street. At the time, the street bore the unassuming name Pine Street, but was renamed to Valour Road in 1925 following a campaign by the Women's Canadian Club of Winnipeg.
To most people, Valour Road appears identical to most of the other streets in its West End Winnipeg neighborhood. There are a few minor differences: no elm and spruce trees adorn the boulevards and the intersections are controlled by traffic lights rather than four-way stop signs -- due in part to the traffic generated by the #12 William bus route. During the winter, Valour is a snow route, meaning it is one of the first streets plowed after a blizzard and prohibiting overnight curbside parking.
Valour runs from Portage Avenue (Winnipeg's busiest east-west thoroughfare) northwards across St. Matthews, Ellice Avenue, Sergeant Avenue and Wellington Avenue, terminating near Notre Dame Avenue. The area is completely residential, save for the Portage Ave. intersection and the aptly-named Valour Road Convenience Store at the St. Matthews intersection. Most of the houses are quaint, well-kept bungalows with small front lawns. Valour Road lies within eyesight (and earshot) of several Winnipeg landmarks: Winnipeg Arena, Winnipeg Stadium and Garbage Hill (Gateway Park, a former landfill). (Oddly enough, the Valour Road Curling Club is not situated on Valour Road, but on nearby Erin Street.)
The road was made famous by a 1991 CRB Foundation vignette that was aired frequently on most Canadian television stations and shown prior to the trailers at movie theatres. The vignette dramatized Hall's rescue attempt and Clarke's capture of several German soldiers, then explained the story of the men's common origin with a voiceover. The film short helped Valour Road become one of the most famous streets in the country, and now is in frequent use in junior high and high school classrooms across the nation.
The VC Recipients
Sgt-Major Frederick Hall, 8th Btn (Winnipeg Rifles), Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) - While holding a position in the Ypres Salient in April 1915, Hall's unit had been whittled down to less than 33% effective strength by the lethal combination of German poison gas, artillery and machine gun fire. On April 15, Hall and two other men left their trench to rescue a wounded comrade lying in no man's land. After coming under heavy fire, Hall's companions were both wounded, and Hall helped drag them to safety. Later that day, Hall tried another rescue, but was killed during his attempt. He was Canada's second VC recipient of the war.
Cpl. Leo Clarke, 2nd Btn CEF - During an attack on Pozières Ridge (as part of the Somme Offensive) on September 9, 1916, Clarke was separated from his unit. He came under fire from a platoon of Germans, but surprisingly opted to attack rather than flee. Clarke emptied his revolver at the Germans twice, then picked up rifles from the dead Germans to continue his assault. He killed at least five enemy soldiers, captured another and drove the remaining troops off. Clarke was killed in action a month later, only a few miles away from the site of his attack.
Lt. Robert Shankland, 43rd Btn CEF (Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders) - Previously decorated for conspicuous bravery, Shankland rallied elements of several companies to counterattack and regain their trench in the Bellevue Spur during the Battle of Passchendaele on October 20, 1917. Shankland survived the war, and later rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and commanding officer of the Camerons.
IPMS Winnipeg - http://www.rep4.com/ipmswinnipeg/pinestreet.html
Pine Street - http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/pinestreet.htm