Algonquin Regiment removing loaned artifacts from Bunker

COBALT - Nine large George Cassidy murals are being removed from the Bunker Military Museum this Friday, November 18.

Also being removed are the Algonquin Regiment colours which have been on display at the museum in Cobalt for the past five-and-a-half years.

The murals and the colour display are the property of the Algonquin Regiment and have been on loan to the museum. However the museum recently was advised that the Algonquin Regiment wants to have the murals and colours displayed in a public space, museum representatives say.

The late George Cassidy was a Brigadier-General with the Algonquin Regiment, as well as being a local educator, artist and author.

Museum manager Dan Larocque said the murals which Cassidy painted depicted the history of the Algonquin Regiment from its beginning to its more recent years during Cassidy's lifetime. The nine murals, which have occupied a 50-foot wall in the museum, are supposed to be shown in order as the years proceeded, Larocque explained.

Bunker Military Museum representatives are questioning the need to move the artifacts to a more public space, and say that the museum is public and is accessible. The museum is open by appointment and the cost of admission is a donation at the door. The building is owned by the Town of Cobalt, they note.

The Speaker contacted the Algonquin Regiment for more information regarding the reason for the removal of the loaned artifacts, and their new location, but at the time this issue of The Speaker was going to press, a response had not yet been received.

Bunker Military Museum volunteer Marg Harrison explained that Cassidy painted the murals over boards which covered windows in the former Haileybury Armouries (located where the basement of the Haileybury Shelley Herbert-Shay Memorial Arena is now situated). There was a firing range in the basement and that was the reason the windows were boarded, she explained.

Prior to the murals being loaned to the Bunker Military Museum, they had been stored in an enclosed space in the Chippewa Barracks near North Bay, she said. Individuals in the Algonquin Regiment arranged to have the murals displayed in the Bunker Military Museum in May 2017.

The Algonquin Regiment colours were also brought to be displayed at the museum, and the museum constructed a display case for the colours at a cost of $1,000, Marg Harrison commented. She said the flags were supposed to hang in the case "until they disintegrate." She added that "the majority of the First World War soldiers (of the 159th Battalion, later the Algonquin Regiment) were from the mines of Cobalt."

Larocque said the display case was meant to be "a sarcophagus for the colours."

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker