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Barrie’s Military Heritage Park officially dedicated

November 2017

On 27 October 2017, Barrie’s Military History Park was formally dedicated by Mayor Jeff Lehman.

The $1.57-million park, located just east of Southshore Centre along Kempenfelt Bay, honours and showcases the link between the City of Barrie and its ongoing relationship with CFB Borden and Canada’s military forces.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the park which has many features symbolizing Canadian military campaigns, military life and the soldiers who have endured the hardships of war and peacekeeping from the South African War to the Afghanistan War.

Three flagpoles and an obelisk with the names of Canada’s Victoria Cross winners sit on the north side of the ceremonial plaza, across from two sand pits representing the sands of Afghanistan.

As you walk around the park you come to a short wall representing a World War I trench looks out into a small patch of land with large depressions, which represent bomb craters.

Three Corten steel panels are placed beside the “trench” symbolically depicting areas of the First World War (the poppy), the Second World War (tulips – a reference to the liberation of Holland), and the contributions of Canada’s First Nations soldiers (feathers).

Also at the eastern edge of the park, the Rotary Club of Barrie has donated 25 Vimy oak trees grown from descendant acorns from the ones shipped back to Canada by Lieutenant. Leslie Miller after the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.  Miller took the original acorns from the one native oak tree that survived the battle.

Further along the path are two benches dedicated to the Grey & Simcoe Foresters which were dedicated along with the Victoria Cross obelisk by The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, the Colonel in Chief of the Grey & Simcoe Foresters, in October 2013. 

Among the names on the obelisk of Victoria Cross winners is Owen Sound native Private Tommy Holmes.  Private Holmes served in World War I with the 147th Grey Infantry Battalion, a composite battalion formed from members of the 31st Grey Regiment, one of the predecessor regiments of the Grey & Simcoe Foresters.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions during the Battle of Passchendaele, an award that made him the youngest recipient of the medal.

Another name of interest to Barrie residents is Camp Borden Chaplain and Barrie resident Major The Reverend John Foote.  Reverend Foote was awarded the Victoria Cross for action during the Dieppe Raid in 1942.  After the war, Reverend Foote was the Protestant Chaplain at Camp Borden from 1945-1948.

The Army Navy and Air Force monument that was previously located in Centennial Park since 1967 near the snack bar, has also relocated to Military Heritage Park.

Among the dignitaries at the ceremony was Theresa McInness, granddaughter of Corporal Francis Pegahmagabow, the most highly decorated Aboriginal soldier of the First World War, an Ojibwa from Ontario’s Parry Island Indian Band, who was awarded the Military Medal three times for bravery fighting in Belgium and France.

A historical plaque to Pegahmagabow is placed along the north side of the walkway.

The park will also highlight the railway history on the site of the long-since demolished former Grand Trunk Railway roundhouse. A round concrete band was placed to represent the exterior roundhouse walls, which was originally built around 1890. Prior to construction, the foundation and the filled-in work pits were still visible.

Inside the roundhouse circle is a hill, which offers a good view of the various park features, including the Beach Landing, the Ceremonial Plaza, the Trench Walk and the Marching Forest.

http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/2017/06/11/military-heritage-park-over-budget, http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/work-underway-on-military-heritage-park-in-barrie-1.3451743, http://www.barrie.ca/Living/ParksTrails/Parks/Pages/Military-Heritage-Park-Construction.aspx, https://www.barrietoday.com/local-news/barrie-puts-final-touches-on-new-military-heritage-park-this-week-703844, http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/2017/10/27/landscapes-distinct-eras-of-overseas-national-military-campaigns.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/barries-military-heritage-park-officially-dedicated/

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