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heritage membersSaugeen Shores Heritage Committee members who worked on the project, from left, Councillor Neil Menage, Joyce Johnston, Vice-Deputy Mayor Diane Huber, Gabrielle DiFrancesco, Mark Janekovic, Bill Streeter and Tracey Edwards.

Hub Staff

Thirty-nine commemorative banners with faces of people lost to wars will soon line the streets of Saugeen Shores. The banners were unveiled during a ceremony at the Port Elgin Legion Branch 340. Members of the Heritage Committee had the chance to meet with family members of those lost and explain the histories of the men of Saugeen Shores and Saugeen First Nation who lost their lives serving their country.

Heritage Committee member and Chairman of the Banner Committee, Bill Streeter, started his research in 2009 when he participated in a WW1 trench tour which covered 85 miles of the British Expeditionary Force who were assisted by the Canadian Expeditionary Force along the Western Front. From that tour Streeter learned a lot about how to research soldiers.
“When the project was suggested at Municipal Heritage Committee I said, ‘Great I know something about this,’” said Streeter September 19.

Streeter then went to the four Cenotaphs in Saugeen Shores and Saugeen First Nation to find the names of the fallen etched in stone. He first had to authenticate each name. “We had about 80 names... there were lots of spelling errors, lots of names that were meaningless on there, then authenticating the year of their birth and year of their death.”

Streeter, who was driven by passion, then contacted archive resources including Bruce County Museum and was able to produce 39 photographs of Saugeen Shores and Saugeen First Nation soldiers. “We set a goal at 24 (banners) for this year, and 39 we’re really happy about,” said Streeter.

Streeter said that there are “all kinds of stories up and down the list” of the men that he researched, adding that “they’re all buddies of mine, we got to know each other really well over the last two years.”

The commemorative banners will go up following Thanksgiving and come down after November 11. The soldiers on the banners will be seen in their respective communities with the size of the banners reflecting the size of lamppost holders.

President of Legion Branch 340, Dan Kelly, said that the Legion was proud to be part of the unveiling and welcomed Southampton Branch 155 to the ceremony.

Mayor Mike Smith said that it’s great when community members get involved in something good for the community. “When we look around and see the people here that are on these banners they would have been the leaders of our communities at that time, they would have been people who looked to better their community and it’s because of those people that we’ve got just about everything we have today.”

Heritage Committee member, Vice-Deputy Mayor Diane Huber, then read from the list of banner sponsors, 33 in all, and specifically mentioned Michael Howe, who was present, as one of the very first people to get involved in the project. “He had pictures... he was one of the first, you’re certainly a trailblazer on this one Mike,” said Huber before thanking the rest of the sponsors, adding that the people and organizations who sponsored a banner are the community leaders of today.

“It’s not dead, the project lives on,” said Streeter following his historical speech at the banner unveiling where he touched on many stories on how the soldiers met their deaths. “It’s going to go on as we continue to look and search for more names, more pictures and more people,” he said.

Streeter added that the banners are not limited to WW1 and WW2 “but limited to those who died in our community in uniform.” Streeter added that he would love to get a photograph of the late Gordon Cummings who lost his life the Boer War.

Community members past and present who may have a photographs of a solider are asked to contact their local legion or Bill Streeter. The Chairman added if one would like to research fallen soldiers the best place to look is www.cwgc.org[https://www.cwgc.org/], as well as specific battalion websites.

waltSouthampton Rotarians John Conlin (left), Syliva Sheard and Tony Sheard hold the Rotary sponsored banners, while standing alongside WW2 Veteran Walt Rodgers, Southampton Legion’s longest serving member at commemorative banner unveiling at the Port Elgin September 19.

nickelThe Nickel family attended the commemorative banner unveiling at the Port Elgin Legion in memory of Clarence John Nickel who went missing in action in France in 1918.

knechtelStanding with their uncle’s banner were Betty Knechtel-Hearn and Former Southampton Mayor and his uncle’s namesake Art (Arthur) Knechtel.

port legionVice-Presidents of the Port Elgin Legion, Bob and Rhonda Harrison, hold the banner for Maurice John who lost his life during WW2.

eaglesGordon Eagles stands next to his uncle’s banner. Clarence Gordan Eagles was a member of the Air Force and lost his life in WW2 when his parachute caught fire.

south legionMembers of the Southampton Legion Branch 155 standing in front of the Southampton banners include Secretary Barbara Cowan, Second Vice President Jean Kirk, Sports Officer Mildred Swirk, Treasurer Marylyn Guy-Smith;and Delores Speilmaker, First Vice-President and Sergent at Arms.

streeterHeritage Committee member Bill Streeter researched the histories of those who lost their lives in various wars and told a few stories about the men whose banners will soon be lining the streets of Saugeen Shores.

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