Lachine teen builds memorial to war dead at Lakeside Academy

Evan Rowat, 16, created a concrete war memorial in front of Lakeside Academy.

Evan Rowat, 16, constructed the monument over a series of months

Evan Rowat, left, created a war memorial in front of his school, Lakeside Academy. Here, he stands beside his work with his friend Thomas Cahill. (Daniela Scoppa/Lakeshore Academy)

Evan Rowat grew up hearing stories about the Second World War.

His grandmother would tell him what his two grandfathers had done in the war: his mother's father, Peter Burns, served in the Royal Air Force, while his father's father, John Rowat, was in the Canadian Navy.

"I grew up with my grandma and she taught me all my history," said Evan, 16. "She comes from England. I've heard all the stories from Canada, from England, from everywhere."

The stories might have led to his love of history and politics, but he realized how passionate he was about history last year, when he helped at Lakeside Academy's Remembrance Day assembly.

That inspired him to do something even bigger this year.
The war memorial on the grounds of Lachine's Lakeside Academy, created by Evan Rowat, was inaugurated in time for Remembrance Day 2017. (Daniela Scoppa/Lakeside Academy)

With the encouragement of principal Kathleen O'Reilly, Evan created a concrete war memorial in front of the school.

​The idea came to him at the beginning of the summer, when his parents gave him a special inheritance.

"A few weeks before I actually started the project, my father and mother handed me down both my grandfathers' medals from the war," he said. "I guess that kind of inspired me."

Important to pay respects

Building the monument took a couple of months.

With the help of his father, Evan built a wooden form at their home in Lachine, then poured cement, letting it set over four days and then sanding it. 

He later ordered a plaque to be mounted on the monument.

It's engraved with the dates of the Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean and Afghanistan wars.

Evan hopes students at the school will look at the monument and appreciate the soldiers and sailors who died in battles far from home.

It's something, he said, too few of his peers think about.

"We are here today because of the people who died and the people who built us up to here," he said. "It's important that we give them respect and give them acknowledgement for what they did, so no one died in vain, so we can live here peacefully."

The International Baccalaureate student, who is in his final year of high school, hopes to get a law degree and eventually enter politics. His ultimate dream, he said, is to become prime minister one day.