WINNIPEG — Work has begun on the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Memorial expansion in Winnipeg.
Mayor Brian Bowman, council members and representatives from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Foundation, Veterans Affairs Canada and the Winnipeg Foundation were on hand recently to mark the start of the project with a groundbreaking ceremony held in Vimy Ridge Memorial Park, the site of the current structure.
The existing Rifles monument will be restored and placed on an elevated platform, then surrounded by legacy stones purchased by individuals, organizations and corporations as a fundraising initiative. The stones allow purchasers to leave a legacy to a loved one, family member or veteran and demonstrate their support for both the Canadian military and the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, explains a release. Approximately 300 legacy stones will be placed with the monument.
Fencing and lighting will also be upgraded and the hard surface area around the memorial will be expanded to accommodate public ceremonies.
Funding for the project came from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Foundation, which put forth $86,000, the City of Winnipeg, which allocated $50,000 from its capital budget, Veteran Affairs Canada’s Commemorative Partnership Program, which donated $50,000, and the Winnipeg Foundation, which contributed $20,000.
City of Winnipeg councillors also put money in from the Land Development Reserve Funds of their individual wards.
“With over 100 years of involvement in operations around the world, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles have a proud history and a lasting legacy in our city. It is an honour to recognize and commemorate our past, present and future through the expansion of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Memorial in Vimy Ridge Memorial Park,” Mayor Bowman said in a statement.
The monument was first erected in 1992 in the northwest corner of Vimy Park to note the sacrifices of members of the regiment who gave their lives to the defence of Canada. This year marks the 135th anniversary of the regiment and is also the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, which will be marked with the installation of a tyndall stone, a light-coloured limestone from Manitoba quarries used in many buildings both locally and around the world.
“This memorial will commemorate 135 years of service to Canada by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and will serve as a legacy to those members of the regiment and Canada’s military who gave so much for their country,” said Royal Winnipeg Rifles Foundation president Ray Crabbe.
“The foundation is extremely grateful to all those individuals, corporations and organizations who purchased a Legacy Stone and made a contribution to support this project. The City Parks and Open Spaces Division has been outstanding and fully supportive and without their support and encouragement, this project would not have happened.”
Construction will begin in early summer and will be complete by fall 2018 with a commemoration scheduled for Nov. 10, the day before Remembrance Day.