NOTL cenotaph waits for much-needed repairs

The quest to restore Niagara-on-the-Lake’s iconic clock tower cenotaph is unfortunately a slow one.

This June marked the 100th anniversary of the Queen Street landmark and it is starting to show its age.

In May, the town began working with the NOTL branch of the Royal Canadian Legion to raise the money needed to restore the cenotaph.

“We’re coming up to the 11th of November. We’re going to be standing there looking at these wonderful poppies hanging from the Chamber of Commerce,” said Peter Warrack, a NOTL resident who is concerned about the condition of the cenotaph.

“And then, turning the other way, and you look at the cenotaph and all you can see is the brick pointing pulling out,” he added.

Warrack, who is ex-military and ex-police, said it’s sad to see the how the cenotaph has deteriorated.

“A lot of the brickwork inside needs to be repaired,” said Legion president Al Howse.

“One of the issues has been that there are spots across the top if you look at it that have been open to the elements for the last 100 years,” he added.

Which is why the inside is not as structurally sound as the outside, he said.

The Willowbank School of Restoration Arts in Queenston has been in charge of putting together a report on the costs to repair the cenotaph.

“They wrote a report, which we got back at the end of August, and we turned it over to the town,” said Howse.

The town is getting an engineering estimate on the work that needs to be done, he said.

The town is also working on a list of what repairs need to be done and in what order.

The whole thing has been dragging on, said Warrack.

Howse agrees it’s been a slow process, but right now they’re trying to focus on building an interest for the project within the community, he said.

Warrack said he was told it would cost about $46,000 to repair the cenotaph and that so far $16,000 has been raised.

“I don’t know. And I don’t want to make a guess,” said Howse when asked how much has been raised.

However, he said they received a donation of $2,500 recently from the United Empire Loyalists, an organization that focuses on teaching the history of the loyalists and how they helped shape Canada.

When The Lake Report asked the town how much has been donated to date, a spokesperson couldn’t supply a total.

“Town staff is currently calculating the total amount of donations received to date,” said spokesperson Marah Minor.

She also said the committee has paused the fundraising portion of the project while awaiting updated costs.

“At that point, there are several federal grants that we can apply for and we will restart our fundraising campaign,” wrote Coun. Gary Burroughs in an email to Warrack.

For now, members of the community can still make a donation via a PayPal link at tinyurl.com/y2a4wy4c.

Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report