When the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and nieces of World War 1 soldiers who were killed so far from home, fought the pain of loss here in Toowoomba, these women were determined that the sacrifice would not be forgotten. They were determined to build a lasting memorial – and that Mothers Memorial stands tall to this day.
Taking the beautiful, full-leaved local violet as their symbol, they used cotton to tie bunches of 50 blooms and three leaves which were sold for threepence (worth a few cents today) to ladies at fundraising events, particularly the races in the post-war era. Women often wore them proudly on their capes.
“£1800 was raised and the memorial built. The Mother’s Memorial now stands at East Creek Park near Queen’s Park. The memorial has been the site of Toowoomba’s ANZAC Day commemorations since 1916 and is one of the very few such memorials commissioned by women.” (from the Toowoomba Information Centre)
The Council of 1932 moved to acknowledge its significance to the Toowoomba community by declaring its status as Toowoomba’s floral emblem.
When Kim Cahill owner of www.toowoombadarlingdowns.com.au, was honoured to interview Marion Smith whose link to the violets goes back over 90 years plus across her family generations, she discovered the community spirit lives strong in this ‘green thumb” Toowoomba identity. This heritage of an original violet plant spreading its sweet scent and roots from daughter to daughter down the years is such a special gift, and Kim now shares its significance and splits plants with her own daughter, Naomi, and her grand daughter, Violet.
How beautiful that the story, the flower and the name are entwined – just like the emblem and its origin.
Blog by Molly B
Something special to add – This violet was made in Italy for the Carnival of Flowers and was won by Marion Smith at a carnival launch.