Decoration Day draws large crowds under blue skies

SPRING BAY – The flags atop the Manitoulin District Cenotaph snapped in a stiff Sunday afternoon wind under clear blue skies as parade marshal Jack Bould marched the Decoration Day parade onto the Manitoulin District Cenotaph parade grounds.

Master of ceremonies Roy Eaton officiated at the ceremony, valiantly battling the efforts of the winds that seemed bent on overwhelming the sound system. He noted in his introductory remarks that this event at this location has been held the first Sunday in June annually since 1921.

Pastor Joel Lock started the proceedings off with an opening prayer before the singing of ‘O Canada’ brought the crowd to its feet.

Dignitaries speaking at the event included Ogimaa Linda Debassige of the M’Chigeeng First Nation, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes (MPP Mike Mantha sent regrets and a letter to be read at the ceremony), District H 2nd Deputy Commander Comrade Flora Winn, Zone H3 1st Deputy Commander Comrade Sharleen Sissons and Ann Cada of Sheshegwaning First Nation.

The excellent playing of ‘Last Post’ by bugler CPO2 Abigail Harper of the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps beside an upended rifle surmounted by a Canadian WWII helmet provided a sombre prior introduction to the two minutes of silence, followed by ‘The Lament’ performed by Pipe Major Stewart Gagan and ‘Rouse,’ again by bugler CPO2 Harper.

Comrade Eaton then recited the ‘Act of Remembrance’ before the Sgt. Charles A. Golden Veterans Rifle Team provided a traditional salute to the fallen.

As part of the rifle team’s colour party, nine-year-old Skylar Patrie of Massey was proudly holding aloft the distinctive black and white MIA flag, a role he has performed at various events, including on a Massey parade float, for the past two years. His grandfather is a member of the rifle team.

Wreaths were laid by Silver Cross representative Georgina Cada; Ms. Hughes on behalf of the federal and provincial governments; Jim Kiviaho on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces; Legion District H 2nd Deputy Commander Flora Winn; Zone H3 1st Deputy Zone Commander Sharleen Sissons; Ann Cada and escort Ogimaa Debassige on behalf of aboriginal veterans; Legion Branch 514, President Carrie Lewis; Branch 117, President Ruth Eadie escorted by Carrie Moore; Manitoulin North Shore Navy Veterans, Bryan Chapelle escorted by Bill Ranich; Manitoulin Navy League, Tom Howard; Merchant Navy, Tom Howard; Manitoulin OPP, Constable Darryl Leighton; Manitoulin Masons of the Doric Lodge #455, Keith Legge with escort Mike Terry; Sudbury/Manitoulin District Masons, Dave Hodgins with escort Jim Ramsey; Sudbury Shrine Club, President Rob Fleming; Haweater Unit of the Sudbury Shrine Club, Bruce Gordon with escort Jim Corrigan; the children of Manitoulin wreath, Alex Wright escorted by her grandfather Jim Woods; and the Manitoulin Sea Cadets and Manitoulin Navy League wreath was laid by Bob Jewell and Sea Cadet Commanding Officer Sylvain Boucher. A number of individual wreaths were also laid.

Those attending the ceremony were invited back to Gore Bay Legion branch 514 for refreshments.

“We once again thank all who joined us today in this tribute to our veterans, in particular the members of the Sudbury and District Pipe Band who, with their attendance here today are carrying on a tradition started by the Sault-Sudbury Regiment in 1938,” said Mr. Eaton. “They have maintained this commitment to attend Manitoulin’s Decoration Day on the first Sunday in June since that time.”

Following the Decoration Day ceremonies the attendees marched to the Women’s Memorial in the adjacent Veteran’s Memorial Gardens for a special ceremony honouring the women who served in the various corps. In particular, Joan Van Every Sheppard laid a wreath in memory of her great aunt Jessie Clark whose name is inscribed on the memorial. Ms. Clark served tending to the wounded on the battlefields in France during the First World War.