Decoration Day observance draws stalwart crowd to Memorial Gardens

Branch #514 President Carolyn Dearing lays a wreath for her Legion accompanied by past president Donna Foster.

SPRING BAY—Braving light rains on Sunday, many gathered at the Manitoulin District Cenotaph to mark Decoration Day on June 5 and the many contributions of those who have served in Canada’s armed forces.

Comrade Roy Eaton of Royal Canadian Legion Branch #177 acted as the master of ceremonies for Decoration Day and began by giving a brief history of the cenotaph.

Royal Canadian Legion member Linda Bowerman is escorted to the wreath laying ceremony by a member of the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps as she lays a wreath for her Branch 177 Little Current.
Royal Canadian Legion member Linda Bowerman is escorted to the wreath laying ceremony by a member of the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps as she lays a wreath for her Branch 177 Little Current.

“On September 15, 1921, over 2,000 people gathered near here to dedicate a new memorial to the veterans of the First World War,” Comrade Eaton began. “The original monument honouring the war dead of Carnarvon and Campbell townships consisted of a soldier carved from white marble imported from Italy standing upon a stone base. It was located in the center of the highway just north of us.”

“In 1959, a car collided with the monument destroying both the statue and the monument,” he continued. “This new cenotaph honouring the war dead of all of the Manitoulin District was built at its present location.”

“Each year, Br. 177 Little Current and Br. 514, Western Manitoulin alternate hosting this special day to pay homage to the men and women who served in our country’s forces and those of our allies,” Comrade Eaton explained. “Through their courage and sacrifice, these men and women have helped to ensure that we live in freedom and peace, while also fostering the same around the world.”

The opening prayer was given by Father George Gardiner, Chaplain of Br. 177, Little Current with “O Canada” led by the newly formed Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Manitoulin #328 band under the direction of Drum Major Petty Officer 1st Class Alexis French.

Carol Hughes, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP, spoke about the origins of Decoration Day as a protest in 1890 by forgotten veterans who had fought in the Battle of Ridgeway during the Fenian raids in 1866. She thanked the Legions for ensuring that Decoration Day ceremonies continues.

The parade marches onto the Manitoulin District Cenotaph grounds.
The parade marches onto the Manitoulin District Cenotaph grounds.

Following the Act of Remembrance, the Sgt. Charles A. Golden Veterans Rifle Team gave a salute before the laying of the wreaths, as follows: Silver Cross Representative, Donna Nevils escorted by her son Brent Nevils; Member of Parliament Carol Hughes, both the Canada and the Ontario Government wreaths, two cadets will be her escort; Canadian Armed Forces, Lieutenant Navy Dennis Blake, cadet escort; Aboriginal Veterans, Lieutenant Navy Maggie King, cadet escort; Afghanistan Veterans, Jim McAllister; Korea War Veterans, Red Butler, cadet escort; War Pensioners of Canada, Red Butler, cadet escort; Branch 177, Acting President Tom Stephens, cadet escort; Branch 177 Ladies Auxiliary, President Nancy Milburn; Branch 514, President Carolyn Dearing; Manitoulin North Shore Naval Veterans, Bryan Chapelle, president of the Manitoulin Naval Vets; Navy League Manitoulin, Past President Jeff Marshall; Merchant Navy, Shipmate Bob Yrcha; Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Manitoulin 348, Lieutenant Navy Maggie King; Royal Canadian Air Force, Mrs. Sue Morin; on behalf of the Manitoulin Detachment OPP and the U.C.C.M. Police, Retired Sgt. Don Watson; Municipality of Central Manitoulin, Ted Taylor; Sudbury Manitoulin District Masons District Deputy Grand Master Clive Stephenson, Escort District Secretary Reijo Luoma; Masons of Doric Lodge 455 Little Current, Bro. Mike Terry; Sudbury Shrine Club Nobles and WWII veterans Bob Bryson and  Bill McKnight, escorts Noble Chuck Searle and Noble Stan Fenton; Haweater Unit of the Sudbury Shrine Club, Noble Ed Elchyshyn, Escort Noble Ted Taylor; Royal Arch Masons Espanola Chapter #257 Companion Alan Oberland, Escort Companion Daniel Oberland; Children of Manitoulin, Chloe Bowerman, Great Great Granddaughter of the late Humphrey Beaudin; Bailey Dechateauvert, in memory of Hugh Bailey and John Bailey; Linda Bowerman in memory of Norman Lockyer; and Ron Bowerman, in memory of Mel Bowerman.

Korean war veteran Red Butler lays a wreath on behalf of Korean War veterans.
Korean war veteran Red Butler lays a wreath on behalf of Korean War veterans.

“We once again thank all who joined us today in this tribute to our veterans,” Comrade Eaton said in closing. “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. They have maintained this commitment to attend Manitoulin’s Decoration Day on the first Sunday in June since that time.”

The Sudbury and District Pipe Band attend Decoration Day each and every year.
The Sudbury and District Pipe Band attend Decoration Day each and every year.

During the March Past, the Salute was taken by Comrades Alan Tustian and Blair Sullivan who stood side by side at the cenotaph gate. Shipmate Tustian served with the Canadian Navy in WWII and Comrade Sullivan, although a Canadian citizen, served with the United States Army. Mr. Tustian is the oldest surviving Legion member on Manitoulin at 96-years-old. Mr. Sullivan is 91.

The parade then marched on to Memorial Gardens where Donna Nevils, escorted by two cadets, laid a wreath at the Women’s Memorial.