The Vespra Boys cenotaph is the heart of the +90 year old park which was designed from Day 1 to promote the value of resurrection (tree reforestation). How to get there: Google map. From Barrie: look for the sign to the left, just past CPR train tracks.
Left into tall trees and cedar hedge.
Pay at the booth.
Bear to the right, go down hill.
Down a little farther…
Park in front of gate.
Through the gate…a little further on…make note of ” Adamson’s rock” on the left (subject of another post)
See the front of cenotaph? Note the total lack of interpretative signage?
Compare what it looked like circa 1936. In the 1960s I remember the goldfish in that pond.
Read the inscription (a lot to absorb in the latin): Lest we Forget. 1914-1918 In Memory of the Vespra Boys who died in the Great War. Dulce et Decorum Est pro patria Mori [It is sweet and right to die for your country.]
Go around back and look at the face it gives the park (top to bottom): crucifix, inscription, running (ever-circulating water), a child step, enclosed in 477 acres of trees. A step up not out of charity but out of love and acceptance of their (our) vulnerability and limitations. Dead land turned in life; the common(s) transformed into the sacred. A teaching cenotaph (empty tomb) for the lost children and grandchildren of the Vespra Boys? btw: The word “cenotaph” derives from the Greek: κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion (kenos, one meaning being “empty”, and taphos, “tomb”).
The Inscription: Through Sacrifice we Drink of Life. Does it mean something like this:
But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Philippians 2:17
Stand there. Turn around 180 degrees and look at the main pavillion. Look down at the far bank of the creek running into the pond (at right). See the “V” for Victory installed after the World War II?
It was originally made up of living yew shrubs. Yew symbology: the death tree, poisonous but death not being the end but of a transformation into a new life. Now replaced.
The purpose of memorials is to provide an experience through senses (eye, sound, taste, touch) to a participant through the skillful engineering of tangible objects and intangible symbols. You walk into a church: the sight, sounds, touch, tastes are different than the ordinary. This cenotaph and immediate area was designed to beckon, refresh and teach the young and remind the old on our shared, highest social values.
The cenotaph area is one symbol, one message: designed to satisfy mans’ highest principles.
Other signs have taken over informed by a different level of understanding: some driven into the ground of what some may call a sacred space.