There are many memorable sights and landmarks around Niagara-on-the-Lake.
In an area with so numerous links to important historical events, we are fortunate to have many monuments and reminders of that past.
But there is none more iconic, probably none more photographed and, given the names immortalized upon it, possibly none more significant than the clock tower cenotaph built a little over a century ago in the middle of Queen Street.
Take the cenotaph out of downtown Old Town and we have a very ordinary stretch of road.
But more than just a visitor-friendly landmark that makes an impressive backdrop for photographs, the cenotaph is a testament to NOTL’s history and the roles played by dozens of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars.
As was so well-documented by history expert Ron Dale in his 53-part Monuments Men series in The Lake Report, this memorial keeps alive the stories of the men whose names are engraved upon it.
With the cenotaph rising high above our town’s main street, it is the perfect setting for memorializing the deeds of those young men who gave their lives.
It also is the centrepiece for Old Town’s annual Remembrance Day tribute, where large crowds gather every year, rain or shine, to honour the fallen, past and present.
For all those reasons, and more, it has been gratifying – though not at all surprising – that after the Royal Canadian Legion branch 124 announced the need to raise at least $80,000 to do some essential repairs to the structure, Niagara-on-the-Lake residents and businesses rallied to raise the money over the past year.
After looming tall over Queen Street all these years, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s landmark clock tower cenotaph is in desperate need of internal repairs.
While it looks great from the outside, that part is literally a facade. The inner workings need fixing.
As well, elements such as cement pointing and windows have been desperately in need of restoration since at least last spring.
So, it is significant that at this time of year – Thanksgiving – we each tend to express our thanks to those who have made a difference in our lives or, in some cases, have been purveyors of good deeds in the community.
We are grateful for the communal generosity that has helped the cenotaph’s revitalization reach this pivotal point.
Good on ye, NOTL, for once again coming through in aid of your community.