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Alderville Cenotaph has stood for 90 years in honour of community members lost to war

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

VALERIE MACDONALD/NORTHUMBERLAND TODAY The 90-year-old Alderville First Nation Cenotaph on County Road 45 draws many visitors like this man – but this Sunday at 3 p.m. it will be celebrated by the whole Alderville First Nation community, together with Ontario Minister of Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation David Zimmer.

VALERIE MACDONALD/NORTHUMBERLAND TODAY The 90-year-old Alderville First Nation Cenotaph on County Road 45 draws many visitors like this man – but this Sunday at 3 p.m. it will be celebrated by the whole Alderville First Nation community, together with Ontario Minister of Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation David Zimmer.

ALDERVILLE -- David Zimmer, Ontario's Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the building of the Alderville First Nation Cenotaph remembering those band members who lost their lives in the first and second world wars, Chief Jim Bob Marsden said.

The 3 p.m. event this Sunday afternoon includes a public celebration at the Cenotaph on County Road 45.

From there, First Nation members will go to the nearby Alderville First Nation Community Centre for a history overview by local historian and former band councillor Dave Mowat, Marsden said during a recent interview.

A community feast for band members is scheduled to follow at 4 p.m.

The celebration of the Cenotaph has special personal and historical significance for the chief because it was his grandmother, Sarah Marsden, who turned the sod on the Cenotaph back in 1927. She passed away in the late 1950s as did her husband, former Chief Norman Marsden.

A plaque on the Cenotaph talks about its construction (it took less than a year) by the McNeel family of Campbellford who designed the white, monolithic edifice and donated the materials.

"The hard physical labour was supplied by many volunteers," the plaque states. "The native Indian men of Alderville used hand shovels and lots of muscle power to stir the cement which makes up the Cenotaph. The women spent hours cooking and supplying meals for these hardworking volunteers."

It goes on go explain the significance of the elements of the Cenotaph. Among these is the cube that represents the four corners of the earth and the three large pillars symbolize "the three holy virtues of faith, hope and charity," it states.

The Cenotaph was restored in 1992 as a joint project between Alderville First Nation and the Rotary Club of Cobourg.

vmacdonald@postmedia.com

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