A small group of people gathered at the top of Queen’s Royal Park on Friday to witness the long-awaited raising of a newly installed Canadian flag on Niagara-on-the-Lake's waterfront.
NOTL council approved the installation after a column by Ross Robinson in The Lake Report last November urged the town to fly the flag there.
Robinson then connected with Tom and Jim Caldwell of the Caldwell Foundation. The foundation offered to cover the cost of the new flag.
Tom Caldwell sees the flag as a symbol of Canadian pride.
"We've contributed massively to world history way beyond our weight, at least in the past. And it's something to be proud of," Caldwell said in an interview.
"I see so many people from other countries coming to Canada, and I'm very, very happy for them when I see these families who come to, I think, a great country," he added.
The town chose the hill overlooking the waterfront park for the flag's location.
“I’m happy that there’s a flag up but I’m dismayed that they chose that location,” Robinson said in an interview.
He suggested a better place for it would have been near the park's famous gazebo, where it would be more visible. Large trees make it difficult to see the flag from some parts of the park.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero said the high point in the park was chosen for its military significance and as a nod to the community's military history.
“In military protocol, that’s where the flag goes,” she said.
“It is visible. It depends on where you're looking from. Like when you're out on the water, it's hugely visible,” she added.
Disero argued that placing it at the top of the hill also creates a second intimate space within the park.
The Canadian flag stands for "a lot more than a photo opportunity," Caldwell said.
"It stands for what we believe and what we see in ourselves as Canadians and that should be triumphant on high ground," he added.
As the flag was raised, some nearby picnickers and park visitors joined the assembled group in the singing of "O Canada."
Robinson said he didn't want to raise a fuss but also wondered if the town missed an opportunity by not getting the flag up in time for Canada Day.
Kevin Turcotte, manager of parks and recreation for the town, said various logistics prevented that.
"But we were able to get it in right before the Canada Summer Games, which was something the council really wanted to do,” he said.
Disero called it “a beautiful addition to the park. It is certainly a symbol for everyone that comes to this park who's a new Canadian, or even someone who was born here.”
Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report