Ravenna Cenotaph commemorates 100 years

·2 min read

The Ravenna Cenotaph was officially unveiled to the community on a rainy day in late-October, 1921.

A hundred years later, the community once again came together on a rainy afternoon to commemorate the space and pay their respects.

“We are here to mark the unveiling of this monument that was placed here in 1921 by the residents of this area,” said Shawn McKinlay, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 281 Beaver Valley, who led the special ceremony held on Saturday afternoon.

Located on the corner of Grey Road 2 and Grey Road 119, the cenotaph sits in the Ravenna Community Memorial Park where the local Remembrance Day ceremonies are held each year.

The monument was originally commissioned in 1921 by a committee appointed by the Collingwood Township council to commemorate those from the township who perished in World War I.

The cenotaph itself is engraved with the names of local men who's lives were lost during military service.

Ordinary Seaman, Neil Arbuthnot is an example of one of the men included in the cenotaph.

Arbuthnot was born in 1894 in Collingwood. He served as a shipbuilder with the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He died in 1917 and was laid to rest in Plymouth Old Cemetery in Devon, England. Arbuthnot’s mother spoke at the original ceremony to unveil the cenotaph in 1921.

Saturday’s ceremony included a drum head service performed by the Beaver Valley Pipes and Drums.

“The ceremony of the drumhead service dates back into the 1700’s and was actually performed on the battlefield where there was no church or place to worship. The bands that were in attendance would stack their drums to form a podium for whomever might have been there to provide the service,” explained McKinlay.

Following the drum head service, Rev. Grayhame Bowcott from the Blue Mountains' St. George’s Anglican Church spoke and provided a prayer for the ceremony.

A number of dignitaries were in attendance, including Terry Dowdall, member of parliament for Simcoe-Grey; Town of the Blue Mountains Mayor, Alar Soever; and Mayor of Grey Highlands, Paul McQueen.

Andrea Wilson, curator for the Town of The Blue Mountains Museum and Archives was also in attendance for the ceremony and brought along background information about the cenotaph, the individuals the cenotaph honours as well as details on its creation.

“A committee of community members was formed to raise money for the purchase of the land and the creation of the monument. In our archives, we actually have copies of the committee meeting minutes, which really showcases the effort that was made by the community to bring the monument about,” Wilson explained.

Additional information on the Ravenna Cenotaph and local military history can be found in the Town of the Blue Mountains Museum and Archives online exhibit - Our Military Heritage.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca

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