Beverly residents try to save crumbling cenotaph
Started $500,000 campaign to restore Alberta's oldest war monument
As soldiers, veterans and the public mark another Remembrance Day, a piece of Alberta's military history is starting to crumble away in one of Edmonton's poorest neighbourhoods. And locals are looking for a way to restore it.
The Beverly Memorial Cenotaph, at the corner of 118th Avenue and 40th Street, is considered to be Alberta's oldest modern war monument.
Unveiled Oct. 17, 1920, less than two years after the end of World War I, the monument honoured the 170 people from Beverly, then a coal-mining town of just 1,000 people, who served in the war. Names of the 17 Beverly soldiers who died in the war are still etched into the granite pillar.
Small plaques to honour the fallen from WWII and the Korean War have also been added.
In recent years, sidewalks that run through the grassy area around the cenotaph have started to buckle, and the concrete base crumbles away on a frequent basis. It was repaired again this summer.
"It's just putting a Band Aid on the situation," said Joe Luce, an ex-member of the Canadian military and chair of the Beverly Memorial Cenotaph Committee, following Monday's Remembrance Day ceremony at the site.
"We can't continue throwing money at something that's just going to be cracked by next spring."
The committee has developed a $500,000 plan to rebuild the platform underneath the cenotaph and improve the surrounding landscaping. Luce says the project would also make the monument more visible from busy 118th Avenue.
"In the summertime, a lot of people can't see it. We want to show it off. This would be more like the town centre of Beverly."
Deterioration saddens veteran
The project has received the hearty approval of Joe Holoiday, 88, considered the oldest living veteran of WWII in Beverly.
"I've been coming here almost every year for Remembrance Day. And when you see it going like that, it hurts."
Holoiday moved to Beverly in 1935. He served as a soldier in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany from 1944 to 1946, helping to keep peace after the war.
Luce said his committee has received $75,000 from a combination of the city and Veterans Affairs Canada. He wants the province and federal government to contribute, but is still trying to figure out who to approach.
"I just want it done. So, I'm just asking for help as best I can."
Holoiday said he plans to contribute to the project, and is encouraging other people in Beverly to do the same.
"I feel good about this cenotaph and I want it to stay here."