95th anniversary of Poplar Cenotaph celebrated by Burpee-Mills community

Bugler Abbie Harper, left, performed the Last Post at a salute to veterans in the Burpee-Mills community and the 95th anniversary of the Poplar cenotaph. Royal Canadian Legion Branch 514 Chaplain Erwin Thompson, right, delivered the services.

EVANSVILLE – Part of the Burpee-Mills Canada Day celebration and dinner held this past Monday was a remembrance of local soldiers who fought for peace in the First and Second World War as well as other conflicts, and to recognize the 95th anniversary of the Poplar cenotaph. 

“Welcome. On behalf of the recreation committee of Burpee-Mills township and as Chaplain of Branch 514 Western Manitoulin of the Royal Canadian Legion, I welcome you to this time of remembrance of the veterans of this wonderful township as we acknowledge the 95th anniversary of the Poplar cenotaph,” said Chaplain Erwin Thompson. “I would like to thank Coxswain Abigail Harper of the 348 Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps, who lives in Evansville, for agreeing to take part in this time of remembrance.”

“I would also like to thank Pat Best for letting me use a lot of the history that she had wrote, tonight,” said Chaplain Thompson.

Art Hayden, a Burpee-Mills councillor welcomed everyone to the Canada Day celebrations. “On behalf of council and the recreation committee, welcome. We want to recognize the recreation committee and volunteers; they’ve been working very hard behind the scenes getting everything ready, including the dinner. We have wonderful volunteers in our community.” 

Councillor Hayden also acknowledged Jim and Joanne Smith (who helped with the music for the evening) and Reverend Janice Frame who led everyone in the singing of ‘This Land is Your Land,’ and ‘O Canada.’

Chaplain Thompson said, “on Sunday, August 31, 1924 the monument at Poplar Corner was unveiled and dedicated in an impressive ceremony complete with choir and organist, which opened with the singing of the hymn, ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’.”

“It was the culmination of three years of work by the Poplar Women’s Institute,” said Chaplain Thompson of the War Memorial at Poplar. “The land was donated by the property owner, Sarah Sides. At the base of the monument are two machine guns given to Mills by the Canadian government to honour the large number of young men who went to the Great War from so small a community, claimed by some to the largest per capita in the whole country.”

“The names of the 19 young men are inscribed on the monument, with the names of the two who never returned from WWI listed on the front. Killed were Alden Wilkinson (May 14, 1917 at Vimy Ridge) and Joseph Gallagher. The others, who went to war, but returned, were Norman Orford (wounded August 8, 1918), Sidney Dinsmore, William Foster (wounded August 8, 1918), Arthur Atkinson, Walter Wright, Jack Robinson (gassed August 17, 1918, wounded October 1, 1918), Leonard Robinson, Arden Irwin (wounded September 30, 1918), Herbert Wright, Harvey Robinson, Henry Lee, William Dinsmore, George McPhee, Ted Middleton, Ernest Moscrop, Leonard Wright and Austin Wright.”

“Also honoured with a plaque on the front of the monument is Lloyd Orford, killed in action in World War 2 in 1944,” said Champlain Thompson. “The surviving WWII veterans listed on the Honour Roll that now hangs in the township office are as follows: James Ford, Sherman McCulligh, Carman Middaugh, Dennis Middaugh, Delbert Orford, Chester Robinson, Clifford Robinson and Wm. (Bill) Wright.”

“The unveiling was performed by Lieut. Grant Turner of Little Current who spoke with feeling about the soldiers, and of the awful times that they had to endure. Other speakers and participants were Rev. W.T. Swainson, Rev. Cannon, and Sheriff J. Haddow. The service was brought to an end by the sounding of the Last Post.” 

He then read the names of those who served from Burpee Township from 1914-1918: Robert Rueben Ainslie, James Bell, Sam Blackburn-killed, John (Jock) Campbell, Isaac (Ike) Campbell, Fred Hayden Sr., David Matheson-killed, James Matheson, J.A. (Arthur) McKinley, Charles Morden, W.A. (Percy) Pidgeon, John Robinson, W.C. (William) Scott (killed), William Williams. And from 1939-1946: Robert John Gibson, William Gibson, James Morrison (wounded), Clarence Morrison, Carman Middaugh, Arnold Bell, Leone Ainslie, Norton Ainslie, Howard Harper-wounded, Hugh Noland, Meldrum Morrison, Delbert Bell, Nelson Robinson, Orace Hayden-wounded, Wilfred Williams and Neorma Ainslie.

“We also remember and give thanks for all those who have served in the Canadian Armed Services since in conflicts such as Korea, Bosnia, Afghanistan and peacekeeping throughout the world,” said Chaplain Thompson. “We are proud of our men and women who now carry the torch of peace.”

Chaplain Thompson then lead everyone in a prayer that read in part, “we thank you for the peace we enjoy and for the opportunity that is ours of building a better order of society in this Canada for the generations still to come.”

The last post was performed by bugler Abby Harper, followed by the Act of Remembrance read by Chaplain Thompson. “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”

Rouse was performed by Abby Harper followed by everyone singing ‘God Save the Queen.’

“This concludes our service of remembrance and I encourage each of you to have a look at the Honour Roll and pictures sometime this evening and remember to thank a veteran or serving personnel when you see them for all they have done for Canada,” added Chaplain Thompson.

Councillor Hayden thanked Chaplain Thompson for preparing this special service.

The local band Family Tradition then had everyone up and dancing for the rest of the evenings Canada Day celebrations.