Monuments and Memorials

St. Catharines' War Memorials

St. Catharines is home to eight War Memorials, dating as far back as 1886. As the Town of Merritton, Village of Port Dalhousie and Grantham Township joined with St. Catharines in 1961, so too did their war memorials. Over the last several years much work has been done to research their history and to assess and plan for needed repairs.

Community support has been strong for the preservation of these Cenotaphs, which honour the men and women who have stood for our freedoms over generations. City Council approved a major restoration and renovation at the City's largest war memorial, the St. Catharines Cenotaph. Work was completed in October of 2013 that included accessibility ramps and new landscaping. While the public see about two months of work being undertaken at the site, the project, like others within the City's War Memorial collection, take years to plan and complete.

Grantham Cenotaph - Victoria Lawn Cemetery

The word cenotaph means empty grave, and acknowledges the loss of life that is represented by these stone and metal structures. Several of our War Memorials name those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Others simply and elegantly recognize the conflicts that have been fought by local men and women.

City Hall

The front doors of City Hall are surrounded by elegant bronze plaques that serve as our Honour Rolls, with the names of men and women who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. Another plaque at City Hall's main entrance commemorates the two St. Catharines recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for valour in the British Empire. Private Alexander Watson died during the Northwest Rebellion, and community sentiment was such that funds were raised to erect the figure that now graces the front lawn of City Hall. The oldest monument in the collection, Private Watson also honours local men who were lost in the Second Boer War.

Merritton and Port Dalhousie

Merritton (Merritt Street) and Port Dalhousie (Ann Street) each have beautiful Cenotaphs built circa 1921, and it is believed their statues were carved by artist Emmanuel Hahn. These Cenotaphs have been greening projects of the St. Catharines Green Committee and are now surrounded with beautiful, new landscapes. The grounds of Victoria Lawn Cemetery house the Grantham Cenotaph and the Korea Veterans Associations Memorial. Also in the cemetery is the 10th Field Battery R.C.A. Memorial, built circa 1965, and the Royal Canadian Legion's Monument, built in 1990.

Merritton Cenotaph - Merritt Street

Port Dalhousie Cenotaph - Ann Street















St. Catharines Cenotaph

The largest monument is the St. Catharines Cenotaph, located in Memorial Park, on what is now referred to as Veterans Way (St. Paul Street West). Unveiled on August 7, 1927, the first wreath was laid by His Royal Highness, Edward, Prince of Wales, who made a brief stop at the ceremony as he travelled through Niagara. At the time, the monument was a tribute to the memory of the 300 St. Catharines men who gave their lives for the British Empire in 1915-1918. Today, it also commemorates World War II, the Korean War, the United Nations Peacekeepers and the Canadian Merchant Navy.

St. Catharines Cenotaph - Memorial Park on August 7, 1927

Cenotaph Restoration

St. Catharines Cenotaph - Restoration in Fall 2012

So when did work on the St. Catharines Cenotaph begin? In July 2009 a heritage conservator was hired by the City of St. Catharines to evaluate the condition of all our memorials. His report revealed that the St. Catharines Cenotaph was in need of significant restoration. The repair was complicated by the unknowns: the original internal structure was unknown and there was concern it was a pile of dusty, crumbling brick that could mean the Cenotaph was incredibly frail. City staff began to research the Cenotaph and unearthed historic documents, newspaper stories, correspondence between the City Clerk and the original builder, McIntosh Granite Company but we could not confirm the nature of the inner core. In the fall of 2012 a team was hired to temporarily remove its top to review the interior condition of the monument. Good news! It was a solid core, concrete with very little wear, which meant what looked like slightly shifted granite blocks were in fact, intact. Early correspondence suggests that those granite blocks have been slightly out of plumb since the original build of the cenotaph in the 1920s.

St. Catharines Cenotaph - Fall 2013

The company hired to do the investigation were able to give the City an extraordinary price on the masonry work required in the restoration report, and this work was quickly completed in time for Remembrance Day Ceremonies in 2012. 2013 saw the final repointing done on the Cenotaph stairs, as part of the accessibility work, and the landscaping completed. 

This isn't the only cenotaph in need of some TLC. In 2012, the eagle eyes of Port Dalhousie Legion member Brian Bowman espied space beneath the Port Dalhousie figure atop the memorial, and a quick investigation confirmed that the statue is lifting off its pins and requires re-installing. This work is set to take place in the spring of 2014, and City staff received the support of the Royal Canadian Legion, Port Dalhousie Branch 350, in developing a grant application that has since confirmed $6,000 in matching funds from the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Government of Canada.

St. Catharines Cenotaph - Remembrance Day Ceremonies

Port Dalhousie Cenotaph - Remembrance Day Ceremonies















The costs to repair the St. Catharines Cenotaph were significant, but community support assisted in offsetting the costs to taxpayers. In May 2010 the City of St. Catharines hosted a concert by The Stadacona Band of Canadian Forces Atlantic that celebrated the Canadian Naval Centenary. The concert had over 300 attendees and raised $3,000 for the cenotaph, thanks to generous contributors in the community. Significant contributions have been made by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 ($10,000) and the Royal Canadian Legion, Polish Branch 418 ($3,000) in support of the Cenotaph's restoration. Other community members have also stepped forward and the total raised to date is $17,000.

The preservation of our historic monuments and war memorials ensures that Canada's story of valour and sacrifice is shared with future generations. Community members can expect to hear more about these and other projects in future. In future, if you're ever looking for a worthy project for your donations, consider the needs of St. Catharines' historic monuments. There will always be a need.

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