Donation of stained glass window brings family together

A 41 year old stained glass window steeped in family history has been donated to the Fredericton Region Museum.

Window stood in a Tay Creek, N.B. church for more than 35 years

Glen Sandwith after unveiling the window. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

A 41 year old stained glass window steeped in family history has been donated to the Fredericton Region Museum.

"I hope [people] remember my dad, and my son, and my family," said Glen Sandwith, the father of a two-year-old boy, Todd Sandwith, portrayed in the window along with Jesus.

The toddler died in a car crash in 1968. In 1977, the family commissioned Saint John stained glass artist Paul Blaney to create a piece to commemorate him, and to honour his grandfather, Howard Sandwith, who died before him, though he's not pictured in the piece itself.

Terran Sandwith films speeches before the unveiling of a window that depicts the brother he never met Todd Sandwith. His wife Wendy Sandwith is on his right. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

The window stood in the Saint James Anglican Church in Tay Creek for more than 30 years, but was taken down when the church was deconsecrated in 2016.

On Saturday, about 20 members of the Sandwith family marvelled at the stained glass window as it was unveiled in its new location on the second floor landing of the museum. Glen Sandwith said it was like a reunion, with family members travelling to the event from as far away as Australia.

"The whole thing is very humbling," he said. "It's just overwhelming that so many people would attend and the museum has put so much importance on this window that I'm just beside myself because I'm so happy about it."

Artist Paul Blaney stands next to the stained glass window he created in 1977. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Terran and Wendy Sandwith travelled from Toronto for this chance to revisit their family heritage.

For Terran, it was a chance contemplate the life of a brother he never met.

"It's your history," he said. "You kind of think about things happen in people's lives to change events and change the course of history."

Glen Sandwith said he's grateful the Fredericton Region Museum will keep the stained glass window for everyone to visit and see. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

During the ceremony, he said he thought of his two young daughters.

"When you get older, and we have kids of our own now, and you look at your father and your mother as people," he said, "at the end of the day you see the history and the things that you live through and have gone through. I can't imagine losing a child."

His wife Wendy said it's been an emotional weekend because they didn't just attend the unveiling but also visited the place where the church stood as well as the cemetery.

"This has been an incredible journey, I would say," she said. "Going through it together gives my kids, our kids, roots."

The stained glass window stood in a Tay Creek, N.B. church for 39 years. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Artist Paul Blaney, now 85, was there as well. He said while he couldn't remember making this particular piece, he was often approached to make art of family members who lost loved ones.

"I think it's nice that it's still around. Stained glass is the type of things that could literally be forever as long as there's a building to put it in," he said.

Melynda Jarratt, executive director of the Fredericton Region Museum, said the window will now be seen by thousands of visitors each year.

"We hope that it will become a focal point of some of our educational programming where we can teach children about this type of art as not only art, but its value in terms of church and community and the long history of stained glass," she said.

About the Author

Hadeel Ibrahim

Hadeel Ibrahim is a CBC reporter based out of Fredericton and Moncton. She can be reached at hadeel.ibrahim@cbc.ca