Algonquin Regiment sacrifices...
Algonquin Regiment sacrifices honoured
On the Parry Sound’s waterfront trail where the privilege of enjoying peace and carefree living can easily be overlooked, a monument now recognizes the 372 members of the Algonquin Regiment who lost their lives in the Second World War.
“Stand easy boys, you are back home at last,” said Algonquin Veteran Jack Patterson of Parry Sound, as the monument was unveiled September 23.
For Patterson, it was the culmination of a dream, spawned by the emotional experience of visiting the graves of fallen Algonquin comrades overseas.
“Carved in stone are the names of 372 young Canadian boys who voluntarily stepped up to the plate and joined up to fight and destroy the insidious Nazi tyranny that threatened to destroy our motherland, our country and our freedom,” he said.
“Whatever their reason for enlisting,” Patterson added. “Underlying, was the thought that there could be a price to pay, a sacrifice to make and a determination to pay that price for a principle of ridding our world of evil, of protecting our country, family and friends.”
Several hundred veterans, family members of those who served, militia, and a cross section of the community ¬– from school children to the elderly – gathered at the Bay Street entrance to the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail to observe the consecration of the monument.
It towers roughly eight feet high and six-and-a-half feet wide in the shape of the Algonquin badge. Gray granite envelopes the memorial tribute etched in black granite.
“Today we dedicate this memorial where each name of sacrifice is carved forever in stone so that their memory will be forever cherished in the land they love,” Patterson said.
At the ceremony, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement recognized the efforts of Canadians who have chosen to serve our country in the past and today in defence of peace, freedom, and the rule of law and democracy.
“Here today we have the opportunity to remember and to pay homage to those men of the Algonquin Regiment who made that decision so many years ago, but who still live in our memories and our thoughts,” he said.
The morning began with a parade of the Algonquin Regiment from the CNR station on Church Street, to a Freedom of Municipality and inspection of troops in front of the Town Hall, before proceeding to the dedication and wreath-laying ceremony. Participants included veterans, troops from the Algonquin Regiment located in Timmins and North Bay, the band from the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, Algonquin Cadet Corp 3133, First Nations members, dignitaries and local citizens.
“It’s a proud day for all of us,” said Private Jonathon Aldworth from the Algonquin Regiment in North Bay who marched with troops in the parade.
As a Parry Sound area resident, the young soldier said he was proud to see his hometown recognizing the regiment’s local heritage and paying tribute to Algonquins who died in the Second World War. He also expressed pride to be a part of the Algonquin Regiment being honoured day.
For Algonquin veteran Mid Kitchen, the unveiling was gratifying.
“Every time I see it I think about the comrades who were killed oversees and we hope the citizens of Parry Sound, as they look at it, will have the same thoughts of remembering these men who died for our freedom,” says Kitchen, who shared Patterson’s memorial dream, along with Jean Blake, a peace time veteran with the Algonquin militia in North Bay.
“I was extremely pleased today that the ceremony attracted so much attention because places people’s focus on these guys,” Kitchen said. “Nobody walks past this without glancing at it.”
The Algonquin Regiment originated in northern Ontario in the late 1800s when militia units formed in the Parry Sound District and the area north to James Bay were consolidated.
But for some reason, the regiment needed the skills of James Broomfield who hails from Galt. He was a paymaster and good with numbers. Broomfield, just shy of turning 100 on December 1, joined other Algonquin veterans in Parry Sound on Sunday and recognized many of the names of the names of the fallen Algonquins engraved on the memorial.
“The monument is significant to me because there were a lot of good friends of mine who got killed and it’s great to recognize them,” says Broomfield. “It’s a great outfit.”
Broomfield drove a jeep bringing wounded soldiers back from the front lines, a role which brought him under frequent fire. He was captured in the woods of Holland and spent nearly a year in the Stalag XI-B German prisoner of war camp. During that time, his comrades in the Algonquin Regiment went on to see heavy service and casualty in Normandy, Holland and Belgium.
Barbara Monk travelled from the Kingston area to the ceremony to honour her father Major Lyle Monk who led the Algonquins in Normandy, Belgium and Holland. Although he survived the war, he died in 1961 while she was 15 and his ashes were scattered.
“It’s a place to honour him,” Monk explained. “Coming here has given me a lot of peace and closure.”
Lyle Monk worked here at D-I-L (Dominion Industries) in the 1920s and early 30s. He joined the Algonquin reserves and earned a reputation as a crack shot. Although he’d moved on to Montreal, when war broke out he returned to enlist with the Algonquin Regiment. Patterson served under him and Broomfield was his driver.
“Having this memorial has been a fabulous connection for me,” she said. “It’s a place of remembrance.”