Cranbrook Cenotaph names get a touch-up

Legion members repaint 166 names, marking three wars, for the first time in monument’s history

The Cranbrook Cenotaph is getting a touch up, 99 years later.

Larry Miller and Bob Muir, members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 Cranbrook, were down in Rotary Park this week, repainting the 166 names engraved on the Cenotaph. The names had faded into the same colour as the stone over the decades, making them difficult to read.

Miller and Muir were repainting the names with special monument paint, gifted by Kootenay Granite. Miller applied the paint with an airbrush. But first, a layer of wallpaper glue was set down over the names, to protect the stone outside the names from the overspray. The glue was then scraped off, leaving the names standing out with the new paint.

This was the first time the names had been touched up in the Cenotaph’s history.

The plans for the original cenotaph originated in June, 1920, at a Cranbrook City Hall meeting. Sufficient funds were raised and the memorial cenotaph was unveiled at a ceremony at the Great War Veterans Association Building, now the site of the Byng Hotel, in April, 1921 — the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

In August, 1926, the memorial was moved to the new location in front of the government office on Baker Street — now the site of Safeway. It remained there until 1968, when it was moved to the entrance of Rotary Park. It has since been moved to its current location in the middle of the park.

The names on the Cenotaph commemorate those who fought in three wars: the Great War of 1914-1918; the Secondary World War of 1939-1945; and the Korean War of 1950-1953.

Nearby is the Wall of Honour. The idea for this commemorative monument in Rotary Park originated with the firefighters in 1987, with a committee consisting of both Cranbrook firefighters and Legion members. In 1995, the Wall of Honour was turned over to the Legion by the Cranbrook firefighters.

In 1999 the Wall was updated, including the painting of the mural on the west side, an informational plaque and the engraving of additional names. Cranbrook artist Joseph Cross painted the mural, which depicts in succession scenes from the Boer War, the Great War, the Second World War, the Korean War and Canada’s many peacekeeping forces.

The mural was dedicated on May 8, 2000, the 55th anniversary of V-E Day.

The engraving was completed in September, 2000.

The Legion continues to engrave names as they are brought to its attention.

Pictured below: Bob Muir, Michael Landry and Larry Miller at the Cenotaph in Rotary Park in Cranbrook. The names on the left side have been repainted. The first column of names on the right side have been painted, and are in the process of being cleaned up. The second column of names are awaiting the new paint, and are barely visible against the rest of the stone. Barry Coulter photo

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