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Our Heritage Spaces

Since the very early days of Charlottetown, Queen Square was the centre of government, market, court and church, with our seat of government as its focal point. Throughout the last years a the 19th century exceptional efforts were made to beautify the square and it became a place of great pride to all Islanders and their visitors. It was onto this setting that the public chose to place the Boer War Memorial in 1903 and the large war memorial in 1925 as tributes to those who made the supreme sacrifice. Both monuments were sculpted by significant sculptors, whose works appear in many prominent sites in this country. There was a time after the 1903 Market House burnt in 1958, and after the post office moved and while the Confederation Centre was under construction that the pride in the square faltered and we lost faith. The restoration of Province House by Parks Canada and their recent work on the gardens around the building has returned Queen Square to a place of tranquil beauty. During the summer months the gardens and the fountain north of the building is always being used by so many people with kids running through the fountain to the great enjoyment of many. The successful cleaning of the 1925 war monument lead naturally to the same being done for the Boer War Monument and I am sure we will be equally impressed with the results. The city and the province deserve our appreciation as does the PEI Service Memorial Park Committee who lobbied hard for this work to happen. Alas I am now concerned about the future direction of this committee. Their desire to create Memorial Park from Grafton Street to Richmond, including our Province House, is going too far. This in my mind is adding yet another name to Queen Square and truly over shadows the focal point of our provincial governance. Queen Square is a special Island place. Next the committee wishes to take over the fountain and install a sculpture reminiscent of the one on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I believe we should not copy other places but preserve our distinctiveness; and to me, the waywe preserve our distinctiveness is by saying NO to Memorial Park and NO to the loss or redesign of the fountain. And judging from comment in the Guardian recently, it is apparent that the issue of moving the Boer War Memorial is still in the minds of some. That scheme is unacceptable in the mind of any loyal Charlottetownian. The Boer War Memorial should stay exactly where it is. I appreciate the desire of this committee to commemorate the men who served since the Korean War and I believe that to be a worthy notion, but not in this location. I believe the square has more than reached its saturation point and now we must look for new locations or simpler designs that do not express such dimensions as we have in this proposal. I have walked the site and carefully considered its importance, its merits and its surroundings and I have two suggestions that I hope will send this committee back to the drawing boards. There is a small space between the south side of the monument and the gentle curved hedge to the north of the fountain. Something small, simple and thoughtful would not intrude here. Or the relationship of Queen Square with the Department of Veterans Affairs building might be enlarged upon, leading the committee to consider a monument on the front plaza of the DVA Building. The Peace Keepers and the changing mandate of DVA go very much hand in hand. This is not a letter to discourage the remembrance of our armed forces, but a plea to protect a space that must not be cluttered by excess. *This appeared as a letter to the editor of The Guardian on June 28, 2003 from myself

Written Monday, June 30, 2003 at 01:17 PM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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