With a promise to “Remember Them,” Amherst Mayor David Kogon, Royal Canadian Legion Br. 10 Amherst President Roy Porter and North Nova Scotia Highlander Museum Curator Ray Coulson dedicated the new North Nova Scotia Highlander Memorial Mural on Nov. 10.
Located on the side of town hall, at the corner of Laplanche and East Victoria streets, the mural is a replica of a mural erected on a building at the corner of Havelock and Ratchford streets 13 years ago by the North Nova Scotia Highlander Memory Club and the Amherst Downtown Revitalization Society.
The original mural, like the new one, honours the memory of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, an infantry regiment that was formed in Amherst at the start of the Second World War, landed in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and fought with distinction across Europe until the end of the war in May 1945.
Four-hundred and eighty-six North Novies paid the supreme sacrifice helping to keep Canada a free and democratic society.
“Council became involved in this project because this mural not only tells the story of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, but also the story of Canada’s war and peacetime legacy,” Mayor David Kogon said during the dedication ceremony that was emceed by Wayne Dupuis, a 25-year veteran with the Royal Canadian Navy.
“Council also felt it was important to continue to honour the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers and how they contributed to the well-being of others in two world wars, the Korean War, Afghanistan and countless peacekeeping missions.
“Lastly, we felt it was important because the mural will help teach succeeding generations of the sacrifices paid by our veterans to ensure our freedom and that we all, well into the future, will keep our promise to remember them.”
Coulson presented a history of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, focusing on the scenes depicted in the mural that showed the Highlanders forming up in Amherst, landing on D-Day and entering Germany, where the raised a Nova Scotia flag – the first flag from an Allied country to be erected on German soil.
Royal Canadian Legion Br. 10 Amherst president Roy Porter thanked the town for supporting the project and for providing a space for the mural to be located. He asked the crowd to remember the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and all veterans.
The original mural, painted by Jennifer Kathleen Morris Cormier, was dedicated during a ceremony on Aug. 20, 2005. Ms. Morris Cormier repaired the mural in 2010 and 2011.
Concerns about the deteriorating state of the mural came to town council’s attention shortly after it was elected into office.
Council requested and received a staff report on the state of all murals in town. It recommended the restoration of the Highlander mural be a top priority because of its deteriorating state and the significant story it told about the sacrifice paid by the North Nova Scotia Highlanders during the war.
In September 2017, Ms. Morris Cormier agreed to create a replica of the original mural. Consultation with Mr. Coulson and the local legion resulted in the decision to erect the replica on the side of town hall.
Council set a budget of just under $25,000 to cover the costs of painting, purchasing materials, lightning, installation and landscaping.
Ms. Morris Cormier painted the replica during the summer of 2018 and it was erected during the last two weeks. All three speakers praised the artist for the “outstanding job” she did in painting the original and replica murals. She was presented with a gift of flowers, as was the town horticulturalist, Chelsea Baird, who has guided the project through its various stages.
While the mural is up, work on the project will continue next spring when walkways, decorative seating, lighting and signage will be put in place.