Renewal of the Southampton Community Cenotaph

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of the plan recently endorsed by Town Council to renew the Southampton Community Cenotaph, more than sixty years since its latest iteration. With the deterioration of the current Cenotaph, it seems auspicious in these tumultuous times to reaffirm our gratitude for the sacrifices of our family and community members who served Canada in various military conflicts. This would be in conjunction with the exciting plans to renew High St. in Southampton.

Indeed, the work of the Cenotaph Committee, ably chaired by John Willetts with other representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion and Town, along with the Business Improvement Area (BIA) plan, are all to be commended.

I write as a retired Minister and Hospital Chaplain, who calls Saugeen Shores home, and as the Great Grandson of the Rev. John Wesley Johnston, who served as a Chaplain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in Passchendaele, Belgium in 1917. He returned to serve local congregations in Keady and Sydenham, though was afflicted with ‘shell shock’ (PTSD) for the rest of his mortal life. It is partly out of homage to his service, memory, and the sacrifices also made by his family, that I express my support for this thoughtful project.

Rendered drawing

This is an opportunity for the whole community to come together, whatever our heritage or religious affiliation, and to evoke the Vimy Memorial, a battle through which Canada is widely thought to have ‘become a nation’. Fittingly, the majestic Canadian flag already refurbished at the foot of High Street as well as the world renowned local sunset would be framed by the scaled version of the Vimy towers, with plans for a quiet space behind the Cenotaph to sit and reflect. The renewed Cenotaph would incorporate the current plaques that honour the local veterans of the World Wars, including those from Saugeen Ojibway Nation who served. And the intersection of High and Huron Streets would lend itself to maple leaf motifs on the pavement, as a spacious setting for annual Remembrance Day Ceremonies, among other observances and educational opportunities.

Heartened by the support and pledge of $125,000 from the Town, as well as a very generous donation of $80,000 from the Southampton 150th Anniversary Legacy Fund, donors from the community are needed to ‘close the gap’ of $45,000 for this project, estimated to cost $250,000. Tax receiptable donations can be made at the Town Office; specify the Southampton Cenotaph.

To echo the invitation of poet Laurence Binyon, from many a Legion and Remembrance Day gathering:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

I think my Great Grandfather would be pleased.


(Rev.) John Lougheed