Man works in the heat to restore Summerside's WW I memorial as it turns 100

·2 min read
Brett Davis is working to restore the First World War memorial in Summerside, P.E.I. The statue is turning 100 this year. (CBC - image credit)
Brett Davis is working to restore the First World War memorial in Summerside, P.E.I. The statue is turning 100 this year. (CBC - image credit)

A sculptor has been working in the intense summer heat to restore a statue in Summerside, P.E.I., that's withstood the elements for 100 years.

The monument honouring 220 soldiers from Prince County who died in the First World War has been in the Veteran's Memorial Park just behind Summerside city hall since 1922.

To commemorate the statue's 100th anniversary, the city has commissioned sculptor Brett Davis to freshen it up.

Davis was in charge of the restoration of the Charlottetown cenotaph 20 years ago, as well as the Boer War monument near Province House.

"It's a depiction of a World War 1 [sergeant]," Davis said of the Summerside sculpture. "He's caught in action running up a hill.

"You can see his face. He's got … this gritty look, like he's just really leading the charge, kind of thing. I think it's a very powerful sculpture."

Davis has pressure-washed the statue and started giving it a new coat of patina that will protect the bronze from corrosion. Then he will apply hot wax, which will enhance the patina and also bring out the statue's colouration.

CBC
CBC

"It's going to bring that sculpture to life as well as going to add protection to it," he said.

He's had to recreate the statue's original bayonet based on pictures and a real First World War gun owned by a friend.

"It's very common for these war memorial statues," he said. "They're good souvenirs. And probably over time … kids and whoever like to climb up and eventually it's going to break off."

The city said the restoration will cost over $10,000. Part of the funding was provided by Veterans Affairs.

"It just seemed like a wonderful opportunity, because the statue is now 100 years old, to bring more attention to it," said Jean MacKay of Summerside's cultural department.

MacKay said the city isn't planning an official unveiling, though it hopes to highlight the significance of the statue at this year's Remembrance Day gatherings, including the one at the park.

"It's pretty hot.... And when you're working off a scaffold or lift, it's not always easy," Davis said.

"[It] just makes it a bit more challenging and maybe takes a little bit longer, but in the end, it's all worth it."

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