Fifteen St. Davids soldiers laid down their lives for freedom and their names are now on a new commemorative plaque at the St. Davids-Queenston United Church cemetery.
The plaque was unveiled Sunday, in time for Remembrance Day, which was a challenging feat, said Niagara Historical Society president David F. Hemmings.
Researching and verifying the names of the 68 fallen soldiers from Niagara-on-the-Lake was a vast undertaking, he said.
And in that research, he said it was discovered that 15 of those soldiers were from St. Davids.
“That’s nearly a quarter of the fallen soldiers from town, which we found to be quite extraordinary,” Hemmings said.
During the war years, St. Davids had about one-tenth of the population it has today.
“When you start thinking about the number of young men that were of that age in St. Davids – you’re dealing with one in a very few that were killed, or died, during these wars. That’s a very high percentage,” he said.
That is why it made sense for a plaque commemorating those names to be erected in St. Davids.
And though, initially, David Murray and his wife Elizabeth Surtees, who donated the plaque, said they wanted it placed at St. Davids Elementary School so that it could be seen and remembered by young people throughout the years, it was decided that it would stand at the St. Davids-Queenston United Church instead.
“By putting it on school property though it was unclear what may happen to the plaque sometime in the future, whereas putting it at the cemetery, it’s likely to remain ad infinitum, forever,” Hemmings said.
With help from Steve Hardaker of the church board, Hemmings said the plaque will now be seen each week by one of the largest congregations in town, as well as those driving down York Road.
“Steve thought it would be a really good idea for us to have this plaque where we now put it. He was able to work with his board to gain appropriate approvals,” Hemmings said.
The plaque was erected by the NOTL Historical Society with the support of Surtees and Murray, in collaboration of the church’s board of trustees and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.