Re-dedication of the Matilda memorial to those who fell

Re-dedication ceremony for new Matilda Monument and Cenotaph in Dixon’s Corners – Despite stormy weather, a good crowd came out on Sunday, October 27, to take part in the re-dedication of the Matilda Monument and Cenotaph in Dixon’s Corners. MPP Jim McDonell, MP-elect Eric Duncan, South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds, Iroquois Legion president Darlene Riddell, and past honourary Colonel of the SD&G Highlanders, Bill Shearing, were among the dignitaries who spoke during the moving ceremony. The Legion Colour Guard and the Kemptville Pipe Band also took part in the event. A proposal from Duncan last year to re-furbish the 35-year-old memorial outside Matilda Hall led to the swift creation of a planning committee and the raising of $60,000 from the community and Veterans’ Affairs to fund the project, which honours people from this area who made the ultimate sacrifice in World Wars I and II and the Korean War. Pictured above, in a composite shot, is the Monument planning committee, l-r, Jim Locke, Cindy Ault-Peters, Eric Duncan, Darlene Riddell and councillor Archie Mellan. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

DIXON’S CORNERS – “We are what we are, here in Canada, because of the service and sacrifice of those names etched on this memorial,” said Eric Duncan, acting as emcee for the solemn ceremony, Sunday, October 27, which re-dedicated the Matilda Monument and Cenotaph.

With the colour guard of the Iroquois Legion, and the Kemptville Pipe Band leading the procession, politicians, dignitaries, service groups, families, friends and those who just wanted to pay their respects to the fallen, gathered outside Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners.

The new memorial, designed by Kevin Allen of Eastern Ontario Cemetery Memorials and Keith Ardron of Ardron Landscapes, cost $60,000, the funds raised through Veterans Affairs and the generosity of municipal and provincial governments, private donors and the sale of Memorial Bricks. (Still available for purchase from Jim Locke.)

The Memorial and Cenotaph are situated outside the Matilda Hall, easily visible from the county road and designed to be accessible to all visitors.

Re-furbishing this memorial was something that Eric Duncan, several of whose family members served in World War II, had been interested in doing for some time.

“It was amazing how fast everything came together when I reached out to Jim, Darlene, Archie and Cindy. They all said absolutely when I asked them to join the committee. The spirit of our community, its empathy and volunteerism, quickly raised the funds needed, and we are very grateful.

We wanted to enhance the site, to make the memorial noticeable and prominent. Hopefully people will take the time to look at it, and to appreciate what was done for them.”

The memorial will be lit at night, and two flag poles will soon be installed.

Around the base of the memorial are a number of individual bricks, donated by families, and groups, often in memory of someone whose name appears on the wall. One simply says “Thank you for the gifts: choice and freedom.”

MPP Jim McDonell described the event as “humbling when you see the long lists of names on the plaques.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds thanked the committee for all its work on a memorial that honours “those who went before us and made the ultimate sacrifice. We are honouring those who deserve honouring.”

President of the Iroquois Legion Darlene Riddell said “This is a beautiful memorial. I know our veterans who have since passed would be very proud to see this monument.”

Past honourary Colonel of the SD&G Highlanders, Bill Shearing, made a special and poignant presentation to the Committee, a plaque with the pictures and stories of two local young men who did not come home, Wallace James Ace and Wilfred McGinn.

The crowd stood quietly for the ‘Last Post’, a moment of silence and the ‘Piper’s Lament’, then joined in the singing of ‘O Canada’.

Pastor Aaron Thompson closed the ceremony with a prayer. “On this sombre day, where we see the names of men and women who gave their lives for our freedom, we give You thanks, and acknowledge to You the cost of that freedom.”

Many chose, after the formal ceremony, to seek out names on the walls or to locate special memorial bricks around the cenotaph.

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