Local history buff and valuable volunteer would have been “tickled”
Pat McLean’s son says his mom would have been ecstatic to see Sarnia’s Centennial Cairn on the lawn of city hall is now dedicated to her.
Family and friends gathered with city officials and members of the city’s heritage committee Wednesday to unveil a plaque in front of the cairn that meant so much to McLean.
She worked for years to convince the city to recreate the original cairn that was located in Veteran’s Park by the old Carnegie library on Wellington Street. It commemorated Sarnia’s centennial year of becoming a city (1836 – 1936) but was demolished – along with its distinctive thermometer – when the old library came down in the 1950s.
The cairn was part of her youth and held a lot of meaning for McLean, said her only child Ted who attended Wednesday’s celebration. McLean spent several years convincing city fathers to rebuild the cairn and, although she ran into many challenges, she got the job done in 2004.
She wouldn’t take no for an answer, said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis who served on the heritage committee with McLean.
The new cairn is located on the southwest corner of city hall’s property and is now surrounded by a parkette, benches, a garden and a plaque describing McLean’s passion for serving her community.
“This is amazing. She would have been tickled,” said Ted McLean.
Mayor Mike Bradley, city planner Max Williams and the current chair of the heritage committee, Robert Dickiesen, spoke at the unveiling.
“This is truly fitting to dedicate this site, especially the historic Centennial Cairn, to Pat,” said Bradley. “She was so dedicated to preserving this community’s heritage, so it is only fitting that this piece of our heritage stands in her honour.”
Pat McLean died in 2019 after a lifetime of volunteerism that garnered numerous awards including recognition on the mayor’s honour list in 2014.
She was also responsible for the restoration of the Boer War Memorial Fountain in Veteran’s Park and oversaw the restoration by Parks Canada of the Alexander Mackenzie monument at Lakeview Cemetery.