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Local veterans to be honoured with highway designation

Published on

George Mathewson

One hundred years after the first Remembrance Day was observed a trio of Sarnians has come up with a new way to recognize local veterans — past and present.

On Oct. 16, a four-kilometre stretch of Highway 40 will be given the name of ‘Veterans Parkway’ and marked with new highway signs going up somewhere between the Suncor Nature Way and Plank Road intersection.

“We chose Veterans Parkway to honour all veterans in the area who fought in wars, not just those that had fallen,” said Tom St. Amand, who teamed up with fellow retired teacher Tom Slater and city forestry supervisor Chuck Toth.

Other communities including Corunna and Petrolia already have sections of road recognizing the men and women who serve, said Toth, who came up with the idea.

“I casually mentioned there hasn’t been a street designated here and these guys ran with it,” he said.

An 11 a.m. unveiling ceremony is planned for Oct. 15 at Heritage Park, which borders Highway 40.

“It’s a recognition of all those who put their lives on the line,” said Slater, author of The Sarnia War Remembrance Project.

The trio say this is an appropriate time because it’s close to Remembrance Day and the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day.

“The only problem that we discovered — ironically after the project began — was that few people know where Heritage Park is,” St. Amand said.

They conducted an informal poll by asking 100 people and only 38 knew the park’s location, and just three knew it contains a Memorial Forest.

Heritage Park features 102 trees planted in the shape of a cross as a living memorial to the 102 Sarnia soldiers who died in the First World War. The park, which surrounds a pond, is accessed only from Upper Canada Drive.

“If nothing else, we hope the establishment of Veterans Parkway will let people know where Heritage Park is,” said St. Amand.

Obtaining approval from Ontario’s transportation ministry required a lot of local support, including from Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, Lambton Warden Bill Weber, MPP Bob Bailey, Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62, 1st Hussars Association, Royal Canadian Naval Association, RCAF #403 Wing Airmen’s Club, and the Point Edward Ex-Servicemen’s Association.

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