Southampton History: Dominion Lookout

According to sources, there are many questions floating about in Southampton regarding the installation of a new sign adjacent to the town’s iconic giant flag.

                                              Dominion Lookout

The vision for the new sign was to have it installed in time for the Southampton Remembrance Day service in 2018 in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day, which it was hoped would also coincide with a re-dedication of the area.

The original sign concept however goes further back in history to 1992, when a group of Southampton residents formed “Friends of the Flag” with a view to installing a giant flag in time for the community’s 135th Anniversary celebration in 1993. The pole was to be 135 ft. in height, each foot representing a year of Southampton.

The group felt that a giant Canadian flag would honour the Town, the Nation, the heritage of the area and would be a legacy for the future.  It was also to “complement the wide main street for which Southampton was known and the cenotaph which honours the soldiers of Southampton and Saugeen First Nation”, who paid the ultimate sacrifice during wars when Canada was formally the ‘Dominion of Canada’ within the British Empire.  As part of the group’s vision, there would also be  “… a park-like seating, a naming of the parkette, a dedication plaque, decorative brickwork and plantings to enhance the existing fountain and park”.

On Monday, September 14, 1992, the group presented its idea to then-Southampton Council, that was followed by extensive questioning by Councilors and Mayor.  ‘Friends of the Flag’ answered the many questions and assured Council that all funds needed for the project and on-going maintenance would be through fundraising, volunteers and in-kind donations.

On September 18th, Southampton Council approved the project by formal resolution, in addition to approval by the Southampton Parks Board.

The first giant flag was marched down the main street of High Street in 1993 and delivered by the Cape Hurd Sea Cadet Corps, led by the Southampton Royal Canadian Legion Branch 155 in celebration of the 135th Anniversary, where town historian Kater Matheson accepted it.

Former Southampton Mayor, Art Knechtel, says that Council wanted to “.. pull the entire area together. We had the flag, the cenotaph and felt that a naming and signage would create a cohesive area for the town to honour our history.”

Therefore, the following year (1994), the park was subsequently named ‘Dominion Lookout” by Council and was officially dedicated on July 1, 1994, prior to amalgamation in 1998.  For whatever reasons, as years passed by, installation of a plaque did not take place … until this year, June 2020.

“This is one of the final things I have always wanted to see completed,” says Knechtel.  “It’s a way to remember our history and how we are part of the Canada in what was formally known as the Dominion of Canada following Armistice Day.  History is important in moving forward.”

A signage plaque created by G.W. Signs of Southampton was recently installed by the Town to complete the triangle … the Cenotaph, the giant Canadian Flag and the signage ‘Dominion Lookout’  – that all honour the history of Southampton and area.