Clay and Ami Leduc put in a lot of hours over the summer restoring the cast iron fence at the Moosomin Cenotaph, along with Clay’s mother Dolores Skow. The fence was formerly painted silver and many people didn’t notice the decorative poppies on the fence, also in silver. Now the fence has been restored, the poppies have been painted red and the fence has been painted black.

Volunteers restore Moosomin Cenotaph fence

November 6, 2019 3:32 pm

Clay and Ami Leduc, along with Clay’s mother Dolores Skow, took on a labor of love this summer, restoring and repainting the cast iron fence surrounding the Moosomin Cenotaph.

“As my wife Ami and I began work on the fence at the end of April it quickly became apparent that almost 100 years of weather and wear had done extensive damage to the fence, which was erected in 1926 by the Girls Monument Fund,” says Clay.

“The entire fence was first stripped using an angle grinder with a steel wire wheel and occasionally a grinding disk to expose the cast iron under the silver paint and to remove scale rust.

“Next, a rust converting solvent was applied to prevent any small left-behind deposits from growing. This solvent reacts chemically with the rust to form new metal. This process was used for all black portions of the fence with each 15-foot section taking approximately four hours to complete. There are 21 of the 15-foot sections.”

He said some sections of the fence required more work.

“The north side of the fence required a little further care as three of the cast iron fence posts contained extensive cracking which had to be addressed before painting could be done. This was done through the combined use of a dremel, chemical rust conversion and an epoxy steel alloy mixture designed for use on cast iron.

“During the history of the fence’s lifetime a car had crashed into a section of the fence on the northwestern portion, resulting in a replacement section being erected.

“This replacement section did not have any poppies on the front of the fence posts starting from the commemorative plaque to the northwest corner. So effectively the fence was missing half of the original front cast iron poppies.

“To remedy this, I was able to find six original cast poppies on the back side of the fence and some pieces lying buried in the grass and soil around the fence.

“Of the 12 poppies now on the fence, five were broken into three or more pieces. To repair the poppies, each had to be stripped of old paint and rust, and then had to be soaked in a metal acidic prep solution prior to being brazed together, painted in a protective coating and then hand-painted with red enamel paint for the petals and black enamel for the center. These where each then sealed with a gloss coat. The last three processes were applied to all 12 poppies.”

Clay says there have been lots of positive comments along the way. “Through the whole project Ami and I have received very positive feedback on the changes and we are very appreciative of all the praise,” he said.

“However over the course of the project I have learned that there are a number of folks who value what the cenotaph stands for and have worked over the years quietly to ensure that the beauty and tranquility in a place of remembrance is preserved.”

He said he saw the project as a living act of remembrance, making a sacrifice of his time to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

And he said completing the project has given him a new appreciation for everyone who has helped maintain the cenotaph and grounds over the years.

“Thank you to all the Royal Canadian Legion members who in years past have maintained the grounds,” he said.

“Thank you to the Town of Moosomin for taking on the grounds keeping from the Legion and allowing me to pursue this project. Thank you to Sheena Metzger and company for snow blowing the sidewalk in front of the cenotaph and thank you to Kelsey and Tess Nagy for planting the flowers this year and last year.

“The best way to remember the sacrifices of the past is to give of yourself in the present.”