The cenotaph at Parksville City Hall is normally surrounded by 3,000 people for the Remembrance Day ceremonies, but this year only a small group of local Legion members will be there to pay their respects to the 61 men Parksville lost in the Great Wars.
“They are the ones that are on the cenotaph. Their names are on the cenotaph and they’re read out every year on Remembrance Day,” said Jim Dollis, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 49 in Parksville.
But this year the City of Parksville and the Legion have teamed up to create a new way to honour those who died.
Colourful banners now line part of the Island Highway near downtown Parksville, with the names of those who died and the war they died in while fighting for Canada.
However, of the 61 who died, only pictures of about half have been found.
“It’s hard to get information because a lot of these fellows who died in the war were single and didn’t have any families,” said Legion Branch 49 President Ken Griffith.
“It’s been a very difficult job,” said Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne. “We had a great researcher who did the work for us but still, we were only able to find 31 pictures before going to print. We have about four more we were able to locate after the print was done which will be added next year.”
The project was approved by Parksville council before COVID 19 hit but now the timing seems just right to allow people to remember the fallen on their own time.
“You’re not talking about a large distance between all the banners,” added Dollis. “You might want to just get out on a nice day like today and actually walk the route and look up and see the fellows that are there.”
The City and Legion would like to find a picture for every person on the cenotaph and are calling on anyone in the community who might have a connection and a picture to give them a call.