Belgian War Memorial statue in need of repairs
A memorial commemorating fallen soldiers has fallen into disrepair with the local Belgian Veteran’s branch saying it would be an injustice not to continue with its upkeep.
Unveiled on October 1, 1938, and standing on the median of Provencher Boulevard across from the Belgian Club ever since, the Belgian War Memorial depicts both the heroism and pain of war.
“It was completed and designated right on the eve of World War II,” said Marcel DuGrave, president of the Belgian Veteran’s Branch #107. “Who seen that coming? Nobody, but that was supposed to be for the World War I veterans.”
Eighty-three years later the statue is beginning to show its age and in need of costly repairs.
“It’s flaking and deteriorating just like a sidewalk or a road,” said DuGrave.
Created by local artist Hubert Garnier, the memorial depicts two soldiers. One standing holding a gun, another face down before him.
Della Leclair, secretary and treasurer of the Belgian Veteran’s Branch #107, said it is the only statue in Canada showing a fallen soldier, symbolizing those who perished.
“People say it’s a dead soldier lying there with another soldier but that’s the truth. That is the truth. That’s why it is important. You can’t just sugar coat it or anything, that’s what it is,” said DuGrave.
According to city documents, the idea of a monument dedicated to Belgian soldiers was brought up during a 1937 meeting of the Belgian Club executive.
Later that year, St. Boniface city council approved a land grant for the memorial saying they, “highly commend this very worthwhile and patriotic objective.”
Documents say it appears the construction costs were covered by the Veteran’s Association and donations from the public.
“Our old veterans that worked so hard to do the upkeeps on this over the years … you just can’t destroy it,” said Leclair.
- With files from CTV's Jamie Dowsett