Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Harry Cockshutt conducted an impressive ceremony marking the dedication of the memorial monument erected by the citizens of Forest in 1922, in memory of the boys who laid down their lives in the First World War (1914-1918). Approximately 3000 people attended. Ten of our soldiers were buried in Flanders Fields.
The precession was led by the Forest Excelsier Band, composed of veterans in uniform. Boy Scouts and the school children assembled at the town hall and marched to the site of the statue on King Street, north of the railroad station.
An Honour Guard was formed by veterans and Boy Scouts. In charge was Lieutenant-Colonel C.J. Woodrow, Sarnia, commanding the Lambton Regiment. Also included was Major Robertson, Sarnia, second in command, Major Williams, Arkona, commander of the Forest Company and Walter Middleton, in charge of the Scouts.
A platform had been erected on front of the monument. On his arrival, the Lieutenant-Governor and his Aide-de-campe. Colonel Alexander Fraser, inspected the guard. The chairman was Dr. J. P. Hubbard, M.D. The names of those appearing on the cenotaph were read:
Joseph W. Cole, Frederick Core, Charles E. Cole, Dr. A. E. Lloyd, John M/ Patterson, Ellsworth Rogers, Walter Venneear, John L. Warwick, Orville Wilson
In addition, the following names were added later: Gordon Ellerker, Liut. John W. Coultis and Harry Jennings.
“To the Glory of God, and the honoured memory of the men of this community who during the Great War of 1914-18, gave their lives for God, King and Country, for loved ones, home and Empire, for sacred cause of justice. I hereby dedicate this memorial.”
The last post was sounded by Lance-Corporal W. Taylor of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
The Forest Legion and Forest Excelsier Band, in 1950, consulted on moving the statue and relocating the band stand. Municipal Parks Committee recommended placing it directly in front of the Forest Community Memorial Recreational Centre. At this site it would be ensured that the caretaker would look after and properly landscape the area. This is the site of the statue today.
Photos courtesy of The Forest Museum
In 2017 the Municipality of Lambton Shores undertook a major restoration of the grounds surrounding the Cenotaph. The following year the Legion with funding assistance in the form of a grant from Veteran Affairs commissioned major restoration work on the statue. A rededication ceremony was held on June 3, 2019.