UXBRIDGE: Donors to the recent Cenotaph refurbishment were honoured by the Township of Uxbridge in a special ceremony on Monday, April 22.
Prior to council's evening meeting, the township recognized the 45 donors to the project, which saw the downtown Cenotaph revitalized and made fully accessible.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who alongside Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the project, began the evening with a brief history of the Cenotaph in Uxbridge as well as the great fundraising spirit of the community, which has been a vital part of Uxbridge for generations.
"The year was 1920. The Great War was over, and the library was there, but there was nothing in front of it," began Councillor Ballinger. "Then, on September 7, a flat car rolled into the Uxbridge Train Station carrying a cannon built in 1902. The Canadian government gave this cannon to the township as a gift, and it was placed in front of the library."
According to Councillor Ballinger, the cannon would sit at the corner of Toronto St. and Brock St. until 1931, when the Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) approached council with a grand idea.
"The IODE, led by Lt. Col. Sharpe's wife Mabel - the first female council member in Uxbridge's history - wanted to put in a Cenotaph. They came before council and asked for money, and were given $500. From there they went to the residents and raised the rest of the funds to put in the Cenotaph that you see today, with a base made out of granite from Quebec and a solider made of Italian marble," added Councillor Ballinger.
The Cenotaph honours the members of the 116th Battalion, headquartered in Uxbridge, and the 17 men who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
"After all that time, the Cenotaph started to look bedraggled, and the township applied for a government grant for refurbishment with a maximum amount of $25,000, which we were awarded," said Councillor Ballinger.
Faced with a tight timeline - the money had to be used by December 2012, as well as impending Remembrance Day ceremonies - Councillors Ballinger and Mikuse got to work fundraising for the project.
With the effort of many dedicated members of the community, the project was able to be finished on time, and is now fully accessible for all residents.
"Before, it was on a grassy hill and very hard for veterans to get up, and you couldn't get around to the back of the monument," said Councillor Ballinger. "Now, if you are walking the streets of Uxbridge, take the time to look around the monument and read the names. And, I would like to say thank you to all of those who contributed to get our Cenotaph back to where it belongs."
Councillor Mikuse also took time to thank the many donors to the project for their commitment to the legacy of those local residents who gave their lives for the freedoms we continue to enjoy today.
"This was a very special project and we thank you very much for your contributions," added Councillor Mikuse.
The cannon originally gifted to Uxbridge by the government in 1920 continues to be showcased in the community, and can be seen on the shores of Elgin Pond in Veteran's Memorial Park.