There’s a lot of war history tied to the Conception Bay community of Freshwater, and some residents are building on that connection to military service in a unique way.
Last year, a new committee was established with a goal of creating the town’s first war memorial.
“It’s been bounced around a number of years,” explained David Moriarity, treasurer of the committee. “People would say, ‘Why do we have to go to Carbonear for a war memorial?’”
Committee members like Moriarity and Darryl Parsons have their own connections to military service. Moriarity started with the Canadian Forces through its weather service and later moved into intelligence work. He eventually served in the Navy, Army and Air force over the course of a 38-year career. Parsons was a combat engineer with the Canadian Armed Forces for 17 years and completed one tour of duty in Bosnia and two in Afghanistan before moving back home to Freshwater. Chairwoman Lynne Priddle also has relatives who have served in some capacity.
So far, the committee has 60 names of people from Freshwater who have completed military service since the First World War, with common surnames like Butt, Davis, Dean, Noel, Parsons and Penney cropping up among them.
“There’s a lot of families in Freshwater that go all the way back to World War I and World War II, right up to the present day that are 19 or 20 years still serving, and there’s other younger generations here in the community that are looking forward and want to join the service,” said Parsons. “Newfoundland is a place everyone wants to come home to … I know for me, if it was here when I was serving, it’s where I would have made a point to come, because there’s nothing better than coming back to where you’re from when you’re serving in something that’s so important.”
After the idea of starting up a committee to spearhead the war memorial project was raised at a meeting of the local United Church men’s service group, the ball really got rolling. The committee was formed in partnership with the women’s service group from the church and the local service district committee.
The committee has contacted Veterans Affairs making them aware of the process in place to establish an official war memorial in Freshwater. Royal Canada Legion Branch 23 in Carbonear has also been helpful in offering some behind-the-scenes support.
“This is going to happen,” said Parsons. “Come hell or high water, there’s going to be a memorial here in Freshwater.”
The group started fundraising last year and Moriarity believes they’re well on track to reaching their goals in time to have the war memorial ready for a 2020 Remembrance Day ceremony. It could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 to establish the memorial, and there is a possibility of securing a grant from Veterans Affairs. The exact location has not been settled on, though the committee is eyeing a property near the ocean, not far from a former schoolhouse in Freshwater. The committee cannot apply for a grant until the location has been addressed.
“Once we’ve got the land secured, then it’s full steam ahead, and I think once we get the application in and it gets approved … then we can get some serious donations, too,” Moriarity said.