Charlie Day was a model Midhurst resident.

April 26, 2016

Charlie and Jean Day were my next-door neighbours on Bayfield Street when I was growing up.

19510222 Charles Day photo

From The Barrie Examiner, Thursday February 22, 1951:

Charles E. Day was recently elected president of the Barrie and District Civil Service Association. Previous experience with the association includes two years on the executive and six years with the sub-committee of the Department Council.

He is presently work foreman at the Midhurst Forestry Station, having been with the reforestry since 1928.

Born in Cambridge, England, Mr. Day received his education in that country. Upon finishing continuation school, he came to Canada and took up farming in Flos Township from 1920 to 1922. He farmed in the West the following year, returning east in 1924 to begin four years with the CPR.

Mr. Day left the employ of the CPR in 1928 and joined the staff of the Midhurst Reforestry as accountant.

He married the former L. Anne McGinnis of Midhurst in 1929 and they have one son, William. A member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Midhurst, Mr. Day has been warden of that church since 1929, with the exception of the war years.

He is a past master of Kerr Lodge AF&AM, Barrie, a member of the Lodge of Perfection, Scottish Rite, and Spry Sovereign Rose Croix Lodge, Barrie. A member of the Canadian Legion, Vespra Branch [149]. Mr. Day was president from 1936 to 1945. He saw war service in both World Wars. In the first war he served in the British Army with the 12th division, Kitchener’s Army. He joined the Grey and Simcoe Foresters  in 1940 and served with the A&T Staff till his discharge in 1945.

Mr. Day is an ardent hunter, and was connected with the Midhurst Athletic Club as secretary-treasurer from 1929 to 1934.

Mr. Robert Peacock was the only other Midhurst resident to serve in both World Wars.

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The 2014 Remembrance Day ceremonies at Springwater Park are well on their way.

August 20, 2014

Enjoy a double slideshow of the 2012 event which features a non-cleaned Vespra Boys cairn.

If you’d like to help the organizers out, just comment on this post and I will confidentiallydo the rest.

  • my immediate family’s military heritage.

Ontario War Memorials visits and reports on the Vespra Boys cenotaph

November 26, 2013

This memorial is one small obstacle in the future development of these sacred lands, one which will be removed if the current political agenda is allowed to continue. Hopefully the will of the citizens of Springwater can win out over the tax-seeking, developer endorsed politicians of Ontario. 

Excerpt from OntarioWarMemorials.blogspot.ca:

Midhurst (Vespra Township)
Saturday, 2 November 2013

OnWar1

Location: Simcoe County N 44 26.393 W 079 45.723
Located inside Springwater Provincial Park. Follow the signs from Highway 26, park at the front gate and follow the path to the right, for 300 metres.

OnWar2

This historic memorial represents a story which is much more involved than meets the eye. The area where the memorial was erected is an area of conservation, of remembrance, and currently of conflict.

This area been used as traditional lands of the Native people who have lived here successfully for over 10,000 years, the rich hardwood forests supplying them with the means to survive and thrive. During the years of settlement, the Natives where eventually replaced by settlers and their farms. The land soon became barren, due to the sandy soil which could not support the toils of farming, and turned to a windblown wasteland of desert. Along came one of Ontario’s most prominent conservationists, Dr. Edmund Zavitz, Ontario’s first Chief Forester, who developed the idea of planting pine trees to stabilize the soil and thus helped to save the landscape across southern Ontario. Dr. Zavitz, along with future Premier Hon. E.C. Drury (1919-1922) established Ontario’s first demonstration forest right here, near Midhurst, in an area which had eroded to the point of no return and also contained several life-giving springs to sustain and grow his beloved pines. The springs are an important headwaters for the Minesing Wetlands, an internationally important, RAMSAR Convention wetlands. The Minesing Wetlands is the last, largest continuous wetlands in southern Ontario. For years this area was used by “Zavitz’s Boys” as a training ground for conservation and forestry. Over one million pines were planted in the Midhurst Forest Station, and eight to ten million seedlings were distributed across the province

With the outbreak of war in 1914, many of the local boys headed off to Europe to further serve their country and fight for freedom. Many never came back, and eighteen men from Vespra Township(now Springwater Township) lost their lives in the conflict. Dr. Zavitz arranged to pay tribute to these brave souls by erecting a monument in this forest, among the pines and natural springs, to pay tribute to the Vespra Boys. A stone cenotaph was hand-built in 1929 by local men Robert Mills and Harvey Spence under the direction of Methven A. Adamson, Superintendent of the Forest Station 1929 – 1956, The Vespra Boys cenotaph was the central focus of the Vespra Legion Branch 149 which started in 1929, had over 120 members at its height and was de-commissioned in 1974 because its membership fell below the minimum allowable. Two engraved plaques of limestone where embedded on the stone cairn. The inscription on the white marble front piece is Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – Latin from Horace meaning: It is sweet and right to die for your country. In 1913, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori was inscribed on the wall of the chapel of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK the British Army officer initial training centre. The phrase can be found at the front entrance to the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater at the Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, USA. On the back of the cairn, originally was a fountain of spring water, the essential element of life, along with a suitable plaque. In front of the memorial was once a small pond and fountain, a symbol of eternal life, now filled in and removed.

After the Second World War, a “V” for Victory was created across the bank of a small stream behind the memorial. The original configuration was made of Yew trees, and later changed to a stone V-shaped garden, which can still be seen today.

The area was designated a Provincial Park in 1958, and continued to grow, not only as a recreation area for the people of this region, but also as an area of continued conservation and appreciation of nature. Springwater Provincial Park is a tremendous asset to the people of Springwater Township and visitors alike.

The current provincial government, in its wisdom decided to close Springwater Park in October of 2012, along with nine other Provincial Parks. With encroaching development from Barrie, and the value of this land as a prospective tax base, the future of this beautiful park is under a severe threat. Shortly after the announcement of the closure of the park, the area was occupied by several Native people, destined to save this historic and unique forest from development. The Natives still occupy the park today, but allow visitors to enjoy the forest and roam freely under the tall pines.

The memorial itself is also under threat of being removed, with a group called Springwater Park Citizens Coalition trying their best to protect not only the park, but also to protect the memorial and keep it here in its chosen location, rather than have it moved to another location and possibly being damaged in the process. Recently the memorial was subjected to a severe sand-blasting of the stonework and several of the adjacent flowerpots and decorations were damaged in the process. The work done to the memorial has vastly changed the look, destroying the attractive patina acquired from years of weathering, and also caused cracks in the mortar, which will be destructive once the cold weather and ice wreaks its havoc. Why the Ministry of Natural Resources used such a destructive method is scandalous, although they claim they are trying to restore and preserve the cairn, they seem to have caused more damage than good. This memorial is one small obstacle in the future development of these sacred lands, one which will be removed if the current political agenda is allowed to continue. Hopefully the will of the citizens of Springwater can win out over the tax-seeking, developer endorsed politicians of Ontario.

This year on November 11th, a traditional Remembrance Day ceremony is scheduled to take place, despite the current situation, which will also include a tribute of the Native contribution to our nation in times of conflict. In the past, the MNR had placed a wreath at the cenotaph, but there had never been a proper ceremony. Now with the closing of the park, the local people are taking it upon themselves to do what is right.

OnWar3

The names of the eighteen Vespra Boys lost in the Great War:

· Arthur Bell
· Frederick Benson
· Ernest Cloughley
· Lewis Cole
· Ernest A. Finlay
· Wilson Greaves
· Wilfred Higgins
· Herbert Roy Hodgson
· George Hodgson
· Arthur Jacobs
· Wallace Key
· William Lang
· Garnet Maw
· John Muir
· William Parker
· James Henry (Harry) Priest
· Stanley Reynolds
· George Selkirk

OnWar4

Marker text:
Front:
LEST WE FORGET
1914-1918
IN MEMORY OF THE
VESPRA BOYS
WHO DIED IN THE
GREAT WAR
DULCE ET DECORUM EST
PRO PATRIA MORIUM

OnWar5

Back:
THROUGH SACRIFICE
WE DRINK OF LIFE

OnWar6

OnWar3

OnWar8

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*Special thanks to from Mr. Les Stewart MBA, of the Springwater Park Citizens Coalition, for providing a guided tour of the site and for his never-ending quest to save Springwater Park. His notes and knowledge helped greatly with this posting.

Mr. Tim Laye was invited to document the war memorial at Springwater Park in the summer and the visit happened on October 18, 2013, one week after the sandblasting happened. Words and pictures: Tim Laye


Who is responsible for the sandblasting, damage and repair of the circa 1929 Vespra Boys cenotaph at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi?

October 15, 2013

I took these photographs on Friday October 11, 2013. This monument had never been sand blasted in its 84 year history.

Back 34 cropped

Note the broken corner of the cairn main pedestal at the front right.

The Vespra Boys is made up of three very different materials: granite field stones, concrete mortar and marble.

P1080092

Another view with the broken urn base at the left back. The MNR-owned heritage-designated building in the back is the original park office.

Each material has it’s own much different properties such as porosity, hardness, strength, etc.

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Detail of broken urn base.

One of the key heritage preservation principles is to try to do no harm. Start with the mildest, least destructive means to the stated, justifiable end.

Back marble sign

Note how the years of patina soak so deeply in the mortar. To get a consistent “new look” the mortar would have to be blasted up to one inch deep.

I was told that the Ministry of Natural Resources considers any of their buildings that are over 50 years old to be “heritage” and extreme caution must be taken. I do not know if those standards apply to community cultural assets that they have legal stewardship for.

Face marble no relief

Front: The softest material (white marble) is easily destroyed with silica sand. The text is almost unreadable now. The contrast between the 3 media is lost. Many of the stones have horizontal etch marks now. Note how the light orange, protective patina has been destroyed. When marble is polished it changes the physical properties of its surface. By sand lasting the raised and relief areas, the contrast is lost. The sharpness of the relief lettering is much less.

Over the years, objects as well as people acquire character. Patina is a much-valued characteristic by many people that appreciate things that have endured. In stone, sand blasting destroys this highly-prized protective layer; the earned look and feel of a well-worn artifact. The cold-hard facts are that etched monuments will likely have more structural problems in the future than if it were more gently treated. The Ontario Heritage Trust talks of The Conservation Cycle.

NICMM 3

The before picture: In 2013, Major John R. Fisher took these photographs in support of the registration to the Department of Defence of the Vespra Boys cairn. There are less than 6,700 of these nationally-registered war memorials in Canada in 2013. It’s magnificent as it was and precisely how the builders envisioned it in 1929, I believe. Note the irregular patina that is appropriate for its age and nature and the sharpness of the relief edges.

Sand blasting is known to radically alter the appearance, life and strength of materials. it is the most aggressive form of abrasive cleaning and is usually the last method used.

Front cross

The after picture: The field stone/mortar joints have been opened up for water to freeze and thaw. There are only surface cracks evident over the whole monument. There is no safety issue. The symbol may indicate the builders’ were concerned in pleasing an entity other then their own ego.

Silica sand appears to be the material used against the Vespra Boys centotaph. There are chips of mortar and stone all over the grass.

P1080099

There are different grades of silica sand available. The most destructive are the cheapest. There are bits and pieces of stones, mortar and sand 2 to 3 metres away from the cairn.

Sand blasting is classified as a form of abrasive blasting.

Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, shape a surface, or remove surface contaminants. A pressurized fluid, typically air, or a centrifugal wheel is used to propel the blasting material (often called the media). The first abrasive blasting process was patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman on 18 October 1870.

There are several variants of the process, such as bead blasting, sand blasting, sodablasting, and shot blasting.

Background: At a meeting at the site arranged by Ontario Parks Zone Manager Mr. Ken Lacroix this summer, I opposed the use of chemicals being applied and then having it power blasted with high pressure water. This elicited a very strong reaction by a representative of Ian Taylor’s, Friends of Springwater Park. I was not informed of any plans to alter the monument although I take Minister David Orazietti at his word when he said he appreciates my interest in the park.

Mr. Taylor appears to be taking credit for this “restoration” project on his Facebook page (see Sept 29th). He also thanks his good friends Patrick Brown Barrie MP, Ms. Nancy Bigelow, Ken Lacroix, Park Superintendent Scott Thomas,  Monument Restoration Ltd., Barrie Legion 147 and Elmvale Legion 262.

CFB Borden, the Department of National Defence, Springwater Township and City Barrie Heritage Committees, Camp Nibi grandmothers/occupiers or the families of the 18 WWI dead appear not to have been consulted, accommodated or included in his thanks.

I have asked the Ministry of Natural Resources to secure the site and not allow any further work until more is known about some may consider a pre-meditated assault on heritage on what is claimed to be protected Ontario land.


What did the circa 1929 Vespra Boys cenotaph look like when the Department of Defence agreed to list it as a registered war memorial?

October 14, 2013

Defence has a National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials (NICMM) which has now 6,664 Canadian memorials recorded.

Major John R. Fisher did the survey, registered it and took these pictures (click here to go to the pictures).

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back

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plaque

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surroundings

The Springwater Park cairn is listed as Memorial 35078-012 (click here to go to the NICMM listing itself).

Maj Fisher1

For over 50 years, this cairn was the centre piece of the unfortunately now inactive Vespra Legion 149. Barrie Legion 147 has kept faith by keeping the the 149’s colours safe, sound and unaltered since 1976.

Canadian Legion Branch: 'Vespra 149'

The Vespra Legion 149 flag flew for the first time in +30 years last Remembrance Day.

SONY DSC


Remembrance Day 2012 at Springwater Provincial Park

November 30, 2012

To the 18 Vespra Boys who lost their lives in The Great War.

And to their families and those who chose to honour their sacrifice this fall.


Lest we Forget: after 94 years, 3 wreathes stand at the Vespra Boys cenotaph

November 19, 2012

Canada was forged in the mud and filth of The Great War.

Paid for by families and communities just like these 18 township men.

To their currently serving  brothers and sisters, OPP officers, EMS flag bearers, Canadian Peacekeepers, Royal Canadian Legion Branches 147,  149 and 262, children, family and friends and to those who laid a wreath, thank you.

Wreath presenters:

  • the Province of Ontario (MNR, park staff),
  • 2 citizens`groups, and
  • the Youth.

A resurrection in a cathedral of pines.


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