Lethbridge’s rich artillery history was honoured on Saturday as the Legacy of Alberta bronze statue was officially dedicated.
“Today’s dedication brings the Legacy of Alberta statue home,” said Glenn Miller, Lethbridge United Services Institute president.
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Modelled after the last gun fired in WW1 from the Lethbridge 39th Battery, the statue depicts a gun detachment of six horses with their drivers, towing an ammunition carriage and an 18-pounder field gun used by the 20th, 39th, 61st and 78th Batteries of Lethbridge.
Donna Reid, a family historian, was happy to see the legacy of her great uncle and grandfather, part of the 39th Battalion, preserved.
“It really is where it’s meant to be. It’s a part of history and it’s nice to have that recorded,” Reid said.
The bronze statue sits on a wood base made from harvested trees that grew on the artillery training grounds and WW1 staging area at Exhibition Park.
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It took almost two years for the artist Don Toney to complete the statue. He said it tested his more than 40-year skill set.
“It was so challenging, especially working on the cannon with all its components,” said Toney.
His Excellency Patrick Van Gheel, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Canada, attended the ceremony to mark his first official day of a five-day visit to Canada.
He highlighted the efforts of Canadian forces at the end of WW1 on November 11, 1918, during the Battle of Mons — a fight that freed Belgium from German occupation.
“Belgium will never forget the sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers to liberate our country,” said Ambassador Van Gheel.
“Our freedom does come with sacrifice. We see it nowadays unfortunately with what’s going on with the new war in Europe.”
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Miller added that the statue is one of the latest examples of what he hopes will be an ongoing education process on Canadian history.
“For future generations, it is hoped we can continue to discover even more of the rich military history from Lethbridge,” said Miller.
The statue is now a permanent feature at Lethbridge & District Exhibition.
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