The Ridgetown Cenotaph Park is reaching out to the community requesting financial support to help with renovations and repairs.
According to Brenda Goldhawk, President, Confederation Chapter IODE, the municipality does not own the park. 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.
The work is scheduled to begin on August 9.
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 honour 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.
Goldhawk said many changes would come to the park, including the hill at the foot of the monument.
“The hill will be gone; the hill is a danger,” said Goldhawk. “The stones will be lifted, nicer trim put around the edges, the sidewalk will be made wider, so the flag bearers don’t have to stand in the grass. It’ll be more accessible to everyone with a wider sidewalk.”
In the end, the Cenotaph Park plans include having the bronze plaques cleaned up and refurbished, the monument itself will be cleaned, the lettering is 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 enlarged from the current 42 inches to 12-foot wide sidewalk. There will also be the addition of three or four steps, which will lead up to the Cenotaph itself.
All monetary donations can be made payable to Ridgetown IODE and will receive a receipt by mail. The Legion can provide receipts only 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 Brenda Goldhawk at 519-674-3514 or Cindy Devereux at 519-784-0550.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News