Banners honouring veterans adorn downtown Little Current

A total of 32 military banners that recognize local military veterans will be displayed on light standards and in some local business windows in the downtown area of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands. As shown in the photo, the top of the banner reads ‘Lest We Forget’ with the name and photo of the military personnel member, their rank and the person(s) who sponsored the banner in the military members name. In photo back left are Rob Marshall, Nancy Marshall, David Marshall, Heather Hutchinson, Gail Fenton, Debbie Turner, Jib Turner, Al MacNevin, and Wes Leeson. In front left is Linda Bowerman, who spearheaded the project, and Roy Eaton, both of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 Little Current. Those in the photo represent six families of military members who are among the 32 military personnel who are being recognized on the banners.

LITTLE CURRENT—Banners of local veterans were flying on the main street in Little Current this past Monday as a way for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #177 to give back to the community.

Linda Bowerman, who spearheaded the recognition of the local military veterans, those who have, or are serving in Canada’s armed forces or who have passed on, told The Expositor, “we did this as a way for our branch to give back to our veterans who served and as the Legion branch way of giving back to the community.”

A total of 32 banners have been made, 28 of which are displayed on light standards in the downtown area of the town, with four hung in business windows. Each banner has the name and photo of the veteran. All the veterans are from the Northeast Town.

“I started this project in May of this year, approaching people in person who I know about veterans in their family and whether they (families) would like a banner flown,” said Ms. Bowerman. She pointed out the Northeast Town had provided a donation of $500, and $2,200 was provided through the Legion. Each of the families paid $125 towards the making of the banners.

Linda Bowerman explained, “in fall of 2019, when Espanola Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39 displayed their banners along Centre Street in Espanola and there were news articles regarding these banners posted on Facebook, many comments were made and my daughter Leeanne posted, ‘Mom this is a project for you.’ A couple of ladies I knew contacted me and said they would be willing to sit on a committee.”

“It had only been a little over a year since my husband had passed and he had been my biggest supporter on all the many fundraising projects that I had been involved with so I was not sure if I wanted to do this, but after a lot of thought a vision took place,” said Ms. Bowerman. “This vision was to see these banners hanging in all of the communities and First Nations that encompass the area that Branch 177 covers. In other words, the east end of the Island.”

Ms. Bowerman first contacted Branch 39 President Gary McPherson who provided information on how they acquired their banners. She then went about getting permission from the municipalities and First Nations by writing letters.

Then COVID-19 came and the project had to be put on hold, said Ms. Bowerman.

She recently happened upon her banner file. “I wondered if I could start this project again but on a smaller scale.”

“One day in early May on my walk to get my mail I met Reid Taylor who works for NEMI and his crew putting up new banners on the main street,” said Ms. Bowerman. She inquired as to the size of the banners and where the town had purchased them. She then emailed three different companies requesting a quote on the banners.

“In the meantime I had written a letter to NEMI requesting a donation from the wind mill (McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm) money. I also made a presentation at the general meeting of the Legion Branch in June and requested that some of the monies they receive from the Catch the Ace draw be provided toward the banners. A motion was put on the floor and received approval and I was wished all the best with this endeavour.” Then she received word that $500 was being provided by NEMI.

“In compiling my list which started with my own three uncles, I was adding names of those who I knew and who had family that I could contact on a personal level,” said Ms. Bowerman. “I also wanted some recognition of veteran’s that had served and were retired, so they would know that we appreciate them and the role they played.” In July she received a quote from O.J. Graphix, who made the banners.

“With the list I made I started contacting families, giving them a letter with information and a form to fill in and a time frame of when I wanted it returned with their money if they were interested,” explained Ms. Bowerman.

“First and foremost, I want people to know that this is not a money maker for Legion Branch 177. It is another way of Branch 177 giving back to the community with my assistance,” said Ms. Bowerman. “With the monies I received I was able to lower the cost for families that purchased them.”

“As for my vision, I still have it, but feel in order for it to be completed it would require someone or some group in each community to take the lead role,” continued Ms. Bowerman. “I would be more than willing to assist in providing any information I can but for me to go and try and compile the information, no, as I feel I still have work to do here in the Little Current area; these 32 banners don’t even begin to recognize all of our veterans.”

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin said, “Linda should be congratulated for everything she has done on this project to recognize military veterans for their service. It’s nice to have these 32 banners flying here, to support those in the military who served in different wars.” He noted the town donation had come from an agreement the town has with McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm. They made a commitment to support different worthy community events every year.”

“I am happy that I have accomplished this project and feel I couldn’t have given myself a better birthday gift as I will soon turn 79,” said Ms. Bowerman.

The banners will be displayed until November 15.