An informed comment on the changes to the Vespra Boys cenotaph: “a locally significant public monument that deserves the best possible care”

For professional reasons, experts cannot put their name, education, and experience to their opinions.

Before sand blasting when registered with the Department of Defence.

Face marble no relief

After sand blasting. Photographed on October 11, 2013.

Nevertheless, the legitimate authority of their statements shine through. 

Such is the case with “Darwin” from this post:

2. Darwin says:
October 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm
In spite of the perception that stone and mortar are indestructible materials, such is not the case. As pointed out above, these materials all have varying physical properties that together form a complex assemblage.

I would hope that a full assessment of the condition of the monument, along with a detailed treatment plan, were developed prior to any work taking place. Sadly, this is probably not the case.

The old fashioned get-er-done approach to restoration of masonry has been “sandblasting”. Blasting with silica is highly aggressive, and more often than not causes damage to the substrate. While an improved appearance may be gained in the short term, the consequence of such an invasive approach can be accelerated deterioration. This is not to say that media blasting has no place in this type of work, but there are many less aggressive materials than silica which may be employed.

As with most projects of this nature, I’m sure it started with the best of intentions. Unfortunately it is not always as easy and straight forward as it may seem, and once the damage is done there is usually no going back.

I would hope that all work on the monument is based on a proper preservation plan, including a maintenance plan, that is sensitive to the materials and heritage integrity of the monument. There are resources and guidelines available to assist with this work, including Landscapes of Memories: Guide for Conserving Historic Cemeteries by Tamara Anson-Cartwright, and the Appleton Charter for the Protection and Enhancement of the Built Environment by ICOMOS Canada.

This is a locally significant public monument that deserves the best possible care, and I hope that the ground work for long term care has, or is, being properly prepared.

In closing, it is important to consider that preservation and ‘good looks’ are not always synonymous.

Yes: what done is done and there’s no merit in the “blame game”.

But a professional restoration includes a proper preservation plan (remedial assessment, and treatment and maintenance program) which is developed using the best practices in the field in consultation with recognized local heritage, veteran, and community stakeholders. It’s not a matter of $ because many of standards have already been paid for through our tax dollars. Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport: Heritage

We need to finish the paperwork and be more thoughtful in the future.

We owe our community builders that respect, don’t we?


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