Halifax's Bonaventure Anchor Memorial finally getting repair upgrades

It's going to be a busy few weeks for members of the military as they begin to repair the Bonaventure Anchor Memorial in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park. The memorial is a tribute to Canadian military members who lost their lives at sea.

New concrete base and steel cradle to be installed at Point

Members of the military are repairing the Bonaventure Anchor Memorial in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

It's going to be a busy couple of weeks for members of the military as they work to repair the Bonaventure Anchor Memorial in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park.

The memorial is a tribute to Canadian military members who lost their lives at sea. The names of dozens of Canadian navy and air force members who died during peacetime are etched into plaques beside the giant anchor.

The anchor faces the mouth of Halifax Harbour and has been badly battered by dozens of storms over the years.

"They are going to be constructing a steel cradle and then replace the anchor in the original position," said CFB Halifax acting base Cmdr. Darren Dempsey. "They will be pouring a concrete base and there will be other cosmetic work."

For more than a decade, former able seaman Allan (Dinger) Bell has been pushing for the anchor to be repaired.

"I'm ecstatic. I've been fighting this for 13 years," said Bell. "It looks like it's all coming up roses at this point."

The anchor is a tribute to military men and women who die during peace time. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The anchor has significant meaning to Bell. He was aboard HMCS Kootenay when the ship was rocked by an explosion in 1969.

Nine of his colleagues lost their lives in the fire that broke out on the ship. Bell was one of 59 sailors injured and he nearly died after suffering burns to half his body.

Work expected to be done by month's end

Seeing the repairs finally being done is also welcome news to Suzanne Ross. Her husband, Thomas Crabbe, was 29 when he lost his life on HMCS Kootenay. The father of two young children was buried at sea.

"When I go to the anchor, it's usually with someone from out of town," said Ross. "It's nice to hear that it's going to be kept up and that someone is going to be paying attention to it."

The anchor faces the mouth of Halifax Harbour and has been badly battered by dozens of storms over the years. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Work on the anchor began last week and it should be set into its new cradle on Friday. The remainder of the work should be completed by the end of March.

"Someone is now taking responsibility for it and that's the important part," said Ross. "It's kind of been like a hot potato — nobody wanted to step up and say they were responsible."

While Bell is happy his hard work has paid off with the repairs, he said he still has another fight in him in promoting the story behind the memorial.

"I'd like for us to get this into the school systems in our country," said Bell. "In order to do that, we have to contact every provincial government's minister of education."

The anchor and chain cable at the memorial site — dedicated in 1973 — belonged to the HMCS Bonaventure, Canada's last aircraft carrier that served from 1957 to 1970. 

About the Author

Paul Palmeter

Reporter

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.