Following a $30,500 project to help repair the Ridgetown Cenotaph Park, members of the Confederation Chapter IODE, Ridgetown Legion Br. 243, dignitaries and others gathered to celebrate the grand unveiling last week.
According to Brenda Goldhawk, President, Confederation Chapter IODE, they work very hard to maintain the park for the good of the community.
“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.
The IODE and the Royal Canadian Legion Ridgetown, Branch 243, partnered to complete the project to restore the Cenotaph and all cement areas.
“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.”
On top of donations, grant funds were received from Veterans Affairs Canada through the commemorative partnership program and the Together CK Municipal Grant from the municipality of Chatham-Kent to help cover the $30,500 price tag.
According to Goldhawk, the names on the monument had all faded, making it difficult to read.
Tom Klassen, the memorial restorer who completed the project, stated that the monument has been power washed a half dozen times. 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.
In the end, repairs to the Cenotaph Park included having the bronze plaques cleaned up and refurbished, the monument itself was cleaned, the lettering was repainted, the joints and seals were put back together, finishing stone was added to the outside, and the sidewalk was enlarged from 42 inches to a 12-foot wide sidewalk. There was also the addition of a few more steps, which led up to the Cenotaph itself.
Cindy Devereux, President of Branch 243, said the Park Re-dedication of the Cenotaph was a day for celebration to see the park come to completion.
“It has been our pleasure to work towards this goal with the Confederation IODE. Your group has maintained this park so beautifully over the years. You are to be commended,” said Devereux. “This is what a small community is all about.”
IODE Provincial President Linda Gryner said the project truly exemplifies the commitment that two organizations have demonstrated for the community of Ridgetown.
Mayor Darrin Canniff said it was truly a pleasure to be in attendance for such an important day.
“I’m all over the community and interviewed a lot about what I like best about Chatham-Kent. Look around, you see it right now -- the people of Chatham-Kent. This is what makes me so proud. A community that steps to help raise $35,000 to make sure we remember the veterans that gave so much for us,” said Canniff.
Len Maynard, the Legion’s Zone A3 Commander, said it was a pleasure to come out to the event. He said, watching the ceremony warmed his heart.
“I can’t tell you, as a veteran of 30 years of service, what it means to see people care about their veterans and their history,” said Maynard. “This is why it’s so important to maintain our history. So many people do not realize the importance. Good job everybody, I’m very proud of you all.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News