Photo by: Brenden Cowan
Local family members of war veterans are commemorating their loved ones through the St. Catharines Veteran Banners Program.
The banners, which hang from street lights on Church street and Ontario street in Downtown St. Catharines, honour the memory of local military veterans. They include the names and pictures of Canadian men and women who fought for their country in World War II, most banners also include the last name of the family who have chosen to visually honour them.
All of the banners depict the Canadian and British flag as well as the quote “Lest We Forget,” along with a “hometown heroes” subtitle. Five banners honouring hometown heroes were hung up in Downtown St. Catharines along Church and Ontario Street at the end of October.
Five new veteran banners which went up this year include a banner for Murray Conway, a member of the Canadian army who served in World War II, honoured by his family, a banner for Charles Richard (Chuck) Page, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II and his relative Albert Edward (Al) Page, who served in the army during World War II, both veterans were honoured by the Page and DeVuono families.
Other veterans remembered by the banners include one for Agnes Agherton-Wilson, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force who served during World War II, she was honoured by her family. There is one for George E Gregory, a bomber command in the Air Force who served during World War II, and one for Peter and Thomas Atherton, on a different banner from their female relative.
Peter fought in the Canadian army in both world wars, he was part of the 18th Battalion and served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Thomas served in the army in World War I, he was part of the 21st Battalion, and also served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
The program, which launched prior to Remembrance Day last year, is a work of the representatives of four Royal Canadian Legion Branches which are all located in St. Catharines: branches 24, 138, 350 and 418, after Cecil Hall, a family member of two World War II veterans, approached the local Legions and the City of St. Catharines and urged them to expand the veteran banner program he heard was already taking place in other towns.
“The purpose of the program is to pay tribute to our local veterans, deceased veterans, and active service members,” said Mike Britton, a co-chair of the St. Catharines Veterans Banners. “They send a clear message to residents and visitors alike: we appreciate our military service men and women, past, present, and future!—one of the mission of the Royal Canadian Legion is to ‘promote remembrance’ so that Canada never forgets; these banners support that goal.”
Church and Ontario Streets were chosen because prior to the pandemic, a Remembrance Day march from City Hall, which is located on Church street, took place to St. Paul Street, therefore, the program’s goal was to line the banners along the marching route. The banners are set to be hung up for about one month.