Plans forging ahead for Cenotaph Centennial

November 15, 2023, 10:33 am
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The scene when Moosomin’s Cenotaph was unveiled in 1924.

The cenotaph in Moosomin will be celebrating a milestone birthday next year, and plans are still forming for the celebration.

Cenotaph Centennial committee chair Brian Beckett said the exact itinerary hasn’t been nailed down just yet, but a re-dedication is definitely part of the plans.

He also hopes to add a bronze plaque with some extra names to the nearly 100-year-old memorial.

“We’ve found another 53 names from the First World War that are not on the cenotaph,’ Beckett explained, adding that those new names listed had ties to Moosomin.

The committee has secured June 8, 2024 as the official date for the festivities—a few months shy of the official 100th birthday, but a date that’s hopefully more accessible for people.

“The actual anniversary date isn’t until the end of August, start of September, but that’s getting into harvest,” Beckett said.

“We wanted to get it done before summer.”

Invitations to dignitaries went out about five months ago, and Beckett noted they aimed high.

“We started wth the Royal Family and worked our way down to our local politicians,” he said.

One group with long-time ties to Moosomin is the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, who are anticipated to attend the special event.

Another plan Beckett would like to see come to fruition is a march from the armoury to the cenotaph including the PPCLI, Legion members, dignitaries and any other groups such as the RCMP, fire department and service clubs involved.

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Historic monument
While the cenotaph was unveiled in 1924, the idea came a few years prior. First mention of a war memorial fund was noted in the fall of 1919 and by the early months of 1923, a call was put out for sculptors and marble firms to present their ideas.

Eventually, a firm in Portage la Prairie, Man. took on the project but a delay occurred when they realized the list of over 60 people to be named on the memorial.

Quinn & Simpson were accustomed to memorials with lists half the size, meaning the main stone would have to be larger than anticipated.

By June, 1923, the order for the Moosomin memorial was placed with Italian craftsmen and by Sept. 10 of the same year, a plaster model made in Carrara, Italy was forwarded to a foundry in Florence.

Shipping delays occurred, but the statue eventually made it’s way across the Atlantic to New York, then taking a path to Moosomin via Montreal.

When the monument was unveiled on a sunny September day in 1924, some 3,000 people were in attendance - noted as the largest crowd ever to attend an official function in Moosomin.

It may be ambitious to expect a similar crowd for the June 2024 event, but Beckett would be pleased with even half that number for such an important community event.

“It’s a pretty amazing little town,” he said.