Forgotten cenotaph remembered

April 26, 2022 photograph of what remains of the Williamsburg cenotaph. (The Leader/Blancher photo)
A 2012 photograph of the cenotaph. (Ontario War Monuments blog photo)

WILLIAMSBURG – During the previous term of council the former municipal building in Williamsburg was sold which left the Williamsburg Cenotaph sitting on private property.

At Monday’s South Dundas council meeting, Archie Mellan, the only member of South Dundas council who was part of the previous council, asked his fellow council members to direct municipal staff “to help remove the crumbling monument that’s there.”

“It’s falling apart quite badly,” he said.

“That probably should have been taken care of when that building was sold and it wasn’t,” said Mellan.

What prompted the request is that the current owner of the property contacted the cenotaph committee to donate the emblem capping the monument, the plaque and the flag poles to them for a future project.

Mellan said that the cenotaph committee is working on plans for a “scaled down project” for Williamsburg in 2023.

Before agreeing to have staff participate as needed in the clean up of what remains of the monument, South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds took the opportunity to express his opinion on the mishandling of the monument when that municipal building was sold.

“I was perplexed that you sold the building during the last term and nobody thought of that cenotaph,” said Byvelds. “I asked the deputy mayor at the time and he said there was no plan. They didn’t even talk to the Legion. I couldn’t believe it. There it sat on someone else’s property. We’re lucky that the person who bought it the second time is working with your committee and wanting to do something that makes sense.”

South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells, said that what’s left of the structure will crumble pretty quickly and that there won’t be much left to take to landfill or use on site for fill.

“That should have been done from the last council, and now it’s on our plate,” said South Dundas councillor Donald Lewis.

South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner said that she’s thankful that the owner is such a great community partner to be willing to do something, rather than be agitated that there’s a structure left behind that should have been cleaned up by the previous council.

“She’s (the owner) giving back the flag poles and working with us and not embarrassing us like we potentially should have been,” said Gardner. “I’m okay with staff going to remove it in the best method possible.”

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