Article From Inside The Ottawa Valley Nov. 8, 2012
The Kemptville Cenotaph honours local military personnel who paid the supreme sacrifice, and those that served, during World War I, World War II, Korea and most recently, Afghanistan. The cenotaph is formally registered with the Department of National Defence, Directorate of History and Heritage, National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials as Memorial Number 35041-018.
The following is an excerpt from a speech made by Reeve Dr. W.F. Storey that was published in the Weekly Advance, dated Thursday, Nov. 10, 1921, entitled “Lest We Forget.”
“He was reminded that just a year ago the president had gently reproved the civic fathers for their procrastination in the erection of a Memorial, but was pleased to announce that through the co-operation of the Women’s Institute, the Town Council, the Oxford Township Council, and, he hoped, the Council of the Township of South Gower, the ground had been broken, a Memorial Monument ordered and he hoped that before long would be completed and erected.”
(The reference to “president” refers to Corporal H.F. O’Callaghan, who was the president of the GWVA – Great War Veterans Association of the day).
BRIEF HISTORY OF KEMPTVILLE CENOTAPH
The Kemptville Cenotaph was designed and manufactured in 1921, using seven blocks of Stanstead grey granite from the Beebe, Quebec quarry and includes the carved statue of a young soldier, bases and twin shafts.
During the month of May 1922, the cenotaph was erected on the north side lot of the old Kemptville post office on Prescott St., through the combined financial efforts of the Women’s Institute and the Town of Kemptville, Oxford-on-Rideau and South Gower Councils. An official unveiling ceremony was held on June 3, 1922, in memory of the men from these municipalities who laid down their lives in the Great War. The Kemptville Cenotaph continues to be the focal point of our Nov. 11 Remembrance Day Services since that time.
RELOCATION OF CENOTAPH
The cenotaph was relocated to the front lawn of the North Grenville District High School in November 1961, due to what was described at the time as being cramped quarters at the former post office location.
In 1988, at the request of Legionnaire Lawson Arcand, a Veteran of World War II, the inscription “Korea 1950 – 1953” was added to the lower part of the centre base of the Cenotaph, in recognition of soldiers that served during the Korean War.
DAMAGE AND MISCHIEF
On a dark October 1992 day in the history of this silent sentinel, the cenotaph was attacked and damaged by vandals who decapitated the statue of the soldier and chipped off parts of the rifle and rifle sling.
The perpetrators were tracked down and the head of the statue was later located as the result of a highly praised follow-up investigation by members of the former Kemptville Police Department. That saved an estimated cost that was said to be in excess of $25,000 to have a professional stone carver create a matching replacement. Still, the resulting repair costs were close to $3,000.
MONUMENT RESTORATION PROJECT
In June 2006, the Veterans Affairs Canada Cenotaph/Monument Restoration Program, Corporation of the Municipality of North Grenville and the Royal Canadian Legion, Kemptville Branch 212, provided joint funding to refurbish the Kemptville Cenotaph. During the restoration process, the name of Private Blake Williamson (Afghanistan –
2006) was added to the 50 names listed on the twin shafts of the cenotaph, the first name to be added to the memorial since World War II. A special re-dedication service was held on Saturday, June 16, 2007.
It is interesting to note that research conducted by accessing the National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials database, resulted in learning that there are three other cenotaphs in Ontario having very similar designs to the Kemptville Cenotaph.