MANITOULIN – This coming Sunday, September 19 marks the centennial of an institution that has become very important to Manitoulin Island and is an important event that Island citizens are invited to attend.
Virtually everyone is familiar with the Manitoulin District Cenotaph and its associated Veterans’ Memorial Gardens, located in Central Manitoulin at the intersection of Highway 542 and Monument Road. It’s also commonly referred to as the Spring Bay Monument.
The District Cenotaph flies the flags in the spring, summer and fall of all the nations that were Canada’s allies during the Second World War. This colourful and meaningful memorial is a focus-point for all Island citizens for it is emblazoned with the names of all the men from the Manitoulin District who made the supreme sacrifice, 130 in all.
But before the Manitoulin District Cenotaph, but at this same location, was the Campbell-Carnarvon War Memorial that bore the names of the eight brave warriors from those two Island townships whose lives were lost in the fight for freedom during the First and Second World Wars.
This Sunday will honour the dedication 100 years ago of the original Campbell-Carnarvon monument. In fact, its actual dedication day was 100 years ago today: September 15, 1921, a Thursday that year. A special supplement with this week’s paper, The Cenotaph Sentinel, lays out the program for the day and also details the significance to Manitoulin of this historic memorial.
The Campbell-Carnarvon Memorial, which came to be known as the Spring Bay Monument, grew from importance primarily to these two adjacent Island townships to one of significance Island-wide, nearly from its beginnings. It became the focus of the annual Decoration Day services held each year on the first Sunday of June.
Decoration Day, like Remembrance Day on November 11, is also a day to remember the war dead from Manitoulin communities and to hope for peace.
The Spring Bay Monument was long ago chosen as the meeting point for Decoration Day services for veterans and their families from both eastern and western Manitoulin as it was deemed to be a central location for everyone to gather.
(In fact, it was for many years the custom for all Manitoulin veterans to gather at the Spring Bay Monument for ceremonies around noon on Decoration Day and then the eastern Manitoulin veterans would visit local cenotaphs in their region and lay wreaths in the afternoon while the Western Manitoulin veterans did the same thing in their region. These “regions” were determined by the areas served by each of the branches of the Royal Canadian Legion in Little Current and Gore Bay.)
In 1994, after a good deal of hard work by dedicated volunteers, the Spring Bay Monument evolved into the Manitoulin District Cenotaph and Veterans’ Memorial Gardens, now a prominent landmark.
This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of all of this: the original dedication in 1921.
The Manitoulin community is invited to assemble at the Manitoulin District Cenotaph corner before 1 pm on Sunday, September 19 as ceremonies begin at that time. (Please bring your lawn chair.)
Jack Bould will act as Parade Marshall and Jim Woods as Master of Ceremonies.
Those on the reviewing stand will include Carol Hughes, MPP Mike Mantha, Legion District H Commander Comrade Ken Faubert, Legion Zone H3 Commander Comrade Sharleen Sissons and representatives from Manitoulin’s First Nations Communities.
Following the Act of Remembrance and the traditional bugle solos, a rifle salute will be provided by the Sgt. Charles A. Golden Silver Star Rifle Team and the laying of wreaths at the District Cenotaph.
Following the benediction by Legion Branch 514 Pastor Erwin Thomspon, wreaths will be laid at the Women’s Memorial and at the Youth in Partnership with Veterans monuments in the adjacent Veterans’ Memorial Gardens.