Southampton Cenotaph site rejuvenation gets Council go-ahead

After more than 60 years, Southampton’s Cenotaph is in need of rejuvenation and the Southampton Community Cenotaph Committee has been formed to not only rejuvenate the existing monument but to create a new and unique central focal point in the community.

At a major intersection on High Street, framed by the backdrop of Lake Huron, the giant iconic Southampton Canada flag and flags along Millard Blvd., the Cenotaph is the site each year for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Unfortunately, the cairn style monument is now deteriorating with age.  The brickwork is falling, the plaques with the names of the fallen are tarnished and the monument itself is slowly sinking into the ground.

The Committee has completed a tremendous amount of research on the project and preliminary consultations, including with surrounding residents and key community partners.

At the September 11th (2023) Council meeting, the Committee presented a presentation that included a conceptual design, site plan sketch, materials and finish elements, and anticipated project plan. At that time, the Committee requested $125,000 or 50% from the municipality toward the goal of the anticipated $250,000 cost, with an endorsement for the Committee to begin fundraising.

During the delegation, there were several questions regarding specific project elements, design details, lighting, and scale. Confirmation of these details and other project-specific components will be completed through the development of the detailed design and specifications by the consultant, in conjunction with the Southampton High Street Streetscape project that was proposed for the Town’s 2024 Business Plan.

At the recent Monday night meeting (Oct. 10) of Council, John Willetts, member of the Cenotaph Committee, presented a short analysis during the Open Forum part of the meeting.  Willetts pointed out that the Southampton Committee had already acquired a commitment of $90,000 of its $125,000 campaign.

According to Willetts, a completion date for a new Cenotaph in 2025 with a formal November 11th Remembrance Day, would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“We, the Committee, are asking that Council endorse the  Committee fundraising goal of $125,000, and direct staff to include the maximum municipal contribution of $125,000 in the 2025 Business Plan for consideration,” said Willetts.  “We would like to move forward with this as it will take at least a year to have a new monument ordered as it is a highly specialized type of build.”

Deputy Mayor Diane Huber said that, “This is the opportunity to do it right.  This is a legacy investment that has to be done properly to last the next 100 years.  It’s a place of destination that we are creating.  I think that public engagement is valuable and gives people civic pride.”

Councillor Bud Halpin wants the Cenotaph to move forward regardless of the proposed Streetscape project being planned for Southampton.  “It will take at least 12 months to create the monument and we can’t take too long to move when the materials all have to be ordered well ahead of time.”

“I agree with the Deputy Mayor,” said Councillor Cheryl Grace. “This is a a legacy project and we have a duty to ensure it is done right.  Also, public engagement is important and a good thing and is also another opportunity for fundraising.”

Vice-deputy Mayor Mike Myatt added that the Southampton Committee just wants to get on with its fundraising campaign.  “If Streetscape falls on its face, this project will go ahead.”

Coucillor Rachel Stack also asked if, by approving the recommendation, it would mean that the Town would spend $125,000 in 2025 in support of the project.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau replied saying that “… passing the recommendation as presented commits the town to endorsing the project and providing the $125,000 in support.”

It is anticipated that the project consultation and planning will occur in early 2024, with construction starting in 2025. Grant opportunities will also be explored for the Cenotaph Rejuvenation Project through the resources of Grant Match.

Recommendation: That Council endorse the Southampton Community Cenotaph Committee fundraising goal of $125,000, and direct staff to include the maximum municipal contribution of $125,000 in the 2025 Business Plan for consideration. 

Recommendation carried


The vision of the rejuvenated space will provide an accessible venue to encourage education and express gratitude and remembrance throughout the year.