Construction to help with damage and repairs at the Ridgetown Cenotaph Park are now underway.
On Monday, August 9, the start of a $30,500 project had begun.
According to Brenda Goldhawk, President, Confederation Chapter IODE, the park is not owned by the municipality. She said they work very hard to maintain the park for the good of the community. However, the park is in need of some repairs.
“Last summer, it was brought to our attention that the Cenotaph had lost its seal, stones are sinking, names are faded, and many other safety hazards were pointed out,” said Goldhawk. “When health and safety becomes an issue, I think that goes to the top of the list to be renovated.”
The IODE and the Royal Canadian Legion Ridgetown, Branch 243, have partnered to complete this project to restore the Cenotaph and all cement areas.
Goldhawk said they are reaching out requesting financial support. The total cost of the restoration project is $30,500 + tax ($34,465). However, $21,000 has already been raised by the Legion and the IODE; therefore a balance of $13,465 is still needed.
“This is a very important project for our community,” said Goldhawk. “Our Cenotaph Park is ‘perhaps the most beautiful and peaceful memorial park in southern Ontario’. Many gave their lives so that we can enjoy our freedom and our peace that we have today. And we certainly need to honor them.”
According to Goldhawk, the names on the monument have all faded, making it difficult to read.
“When I talk to people in the community, a lot of people don’t even realize the list of names is on the back of that monument,” said Goldhawk. “One of the things we wish to do is put a sidewalk all the way around it so that you can walk around the back and read the names.
According to Tom Klassen the monument has been power washed a half dozen times already. He added that all the lead lettering has been hand-painted, except for the letting on the side, which is inward lettering and is typically engraved.
Klassen said crew members are now beginning to frame out the exterior of the sidewalk. He said the sidewalks are going to be put together in two different pours. There will be a gray exterior which is going to be two feet all the way around. The middle will be approximately four feet wide.
“That’ll give us about an eight-foot sidewalk all the way around the Cenotaph,” said Klassen. He said the pours will be solid concrete and will be stamped to add a textured look to it. In addition, the crew is also hand painting all the lead lettering, except for the lettering on the side of the Cenotaph as its inward lettering, typically engraved.
The engraved stones with the names that were removed will be placed very similarly to where they were before.
In the end, the Cenotaph Park plans to include having the bronze plaques cleaned up and refurbished, the monument itself will be cleaned, the lettering will be repainted, the joints and seals will be put back together, finishing stone will be added to the outside, and the sidewalk will be largened from the current 42 inches to 12-foot wide sidewalk. There will also be the addition of three or four of the steps, which will lead up to the Cenotaph itself.
While the work has begun, donations are still needed to help with the costs.
All monetary donations can be made payable to Ridgetown IODE and will receive a receipt by mail. The Legion can only provide receipts from the poppy fund, which can not be accessed for this purpose.
Donations may be dropped off at the Independent News Office during business hours or to Brenda Goldhawk at 47 Oak Street, Ridgetown. If you wish your donation to be picked up, please call Cindy Devereux at 519-784-0550 or Brenda Goldhawk at 519-674-3514. You can mail your donation to the Independent News, P.O. Box 609, 1 Main St. W., Ridgetown, Ontario N0P 2C0.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News