Manitoba

Historic Minitonas, Man. cenotaph destroyed by storm

'It’s been on the site in Minitonas longer than I’ve been alive,' says Allen Martin

Posted: July 09, 2017

The cenotaph in Minitonas, Man., was destroyed after trees were knocked down by a wild storm that rolled through the community on Thursday. (Walter Mychalchuk/Submitted)

A cenotaph that stood in a small Manitoba community since just after the First World War was destroyed by wild weather earlier this week.

The cenotaph in Minitonas, located about 450 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg near Swan River, was ruined when a storm tore through the community on Thursday.

"It was a pretty wicked little storm that passed through. Very short," said Allen Martin, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39 in Swan River.

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"It was only 16 or 20 minutes long but it broke off a couple of big spruce trees which happened to land right on top of the cenotaph."

At first, Martin said he hoped the top of the cenotaph was just knocked over. But after visiting the site over the weekend, he saw that the monument made of stone and concrete was broken in quite a few places.

"It had stood fairly tall and actually had a pointed top," he said, adding the trees must have hit it very hard.

The cenotaph in Minitonas, Man., before a storm knocked trees onto it last Thursday. (Gordon Goldsborough/Manitoba Historical Society/Website)

The monument was erected in commemoration of soldiers from the local area killed during military service in the First World War, Martin said. Later, names were also added from the Second World War.

"It's been on the site in Minitonas longer than I've been alive, that's for sure. I don't know the exact year it was put up," Martin said.

A lot of people reached out to the legion after learning the cenotaph was broken, Martin said. They were sad that the historic monument had been broken and were wondering about its future.

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It will be fixed, Martin said, but they aren't sure when or how. While the legion does look after it, the rural municipality is responsible for its upkeep.

But no matter who ends up being in charge of the repair, Martin said it's important to keep remembering the names on the cenotaph.

"We have to keep that foremost that these people fought and died for us and we can't let that slide," he said.