Cenotaph ready for revamp

The Port Hardy Cenotaph revitalization project has passed its first phase.

The cenotaph at Carrot Park in Port Hardy was built in 1982 by a group of local veterans with limited skills who did the best they could in constructing it.

“It was a bunch of miners who were Legion members,” said Russ Hellberg, one of the project organizers. “They weren’t stone masons or anything, but they did the best they could.”

In 2000, cracks started to show in the cenotaph’s mortar and pieces began falling out. This caused the plaques to loosen and the cross to bend, showing signs of corrosion. The damage was due to years of the park being flooded and strong winds blowing salt water onto the cenotaph. The mortar has since disintegrated to the point it is beyond practical repair.

“When we took the crane machine to it the other day (Saturday, Aug. 6), all they did was touch it and some of the stones and two facial pieces literally fell off,” said Hellberg.

Thanks to funding from the Cenotaph Restoration Program (District and Federal government), the Port Hardy Royal Canadian Legion, the 101 squadron, and the Port Hardy Rotary Club, the cenotaph is officially on its way to being ‘restored’, along with the First Nation’s WW1-WW2 memorial totem pole which was erected in 1996 about 1,200 meters away on the main street.

The reason the memorial totem pole wasn’t placed next to the cenotaph originally was due to the fact that “Both Calvin Hunt and I realized that the cenotaph wasn’t acceptable, so if we put the totem pole next to it we realized we’d run into the same problem. So we ended up putting it where it’s visible and significant for the time being, and we’d work on building a new cenotaph,” said Hellberg.

The project hasn’t been an easy one to get off the ground. Two previous applications to build an entirely new memorial were rejected due to “a lot of background politics,” Hellberg said, but with the first step of dismantling the cenotaph, cleaning and saving the facial pieces, and taking the memorial totem pole to Hunt’s copper shop for restoration, the project has now moved along through it’s first phase.

The next step is the excavation and preparation of the three foundations for the key items of the monument at it’s soon to be new location which is higher, dryer and on more solid, compact ground. They will also have to reroute the electrical feed to the new site.

After that will be the completion of the foundation for the memorial totem pole and the cenotaph. This includes an archaeological assessment as required by the Province of B.C. Heritage Branch.

Once that’s finished, the cenotaph will be rebuilt using all of the facial parts from the old one. The cross will then be installed on the centre piece of the combined cenotaph/monument, and to finish off the project, the refurbished flag poles will be installed in their new location along with the shrubbery and sod needed to bring the site up to standards.

For Hellberg, the project is a matter of principle. He’s been working on it since 1996. “The way I look at things, either you have something that’s done correct or you don’t have it done correct,” he said. “We use the cenotaph for a number of things – Remembrance Day, the Battle of Britain, and there’s also times during the year when the military would show up, and we didn’t feel good using the old cenotaph. I believe in finishing things, and we wanted to make sure the memorial totem pole was in its rightful place.”

The grand opening and dedication will be held November 11, 2016. The entire process is projected to cost $44,465.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Miles put on the car causes North Island driver to reflect

“Up here in Port McNeill we are so blessed with nature’s tranquillity all around us”

Collaborative effort removes salmon farms from BC coast

The first farms to be removed were those in closest to the Ahta and Viner Rivers.

North Island Concert Society: Marc Atkinson Trio coming to the Civic Centre

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Port Hardy Civic Centre.

MP Blaney welcomes feedback on medical assistance in dying legislation

Over the next two weeks the Government of Canada is holding consultations… Continue reading

Picture perfect: Get the most from your wedding photography

Stop by the Comox Community Centre on Jan. 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.!

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Most Read