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May 19, 2020

Lindsay Lambert has written a letter to the Editor of the Ottawa Citizen, our local newspaper.

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Dear Editor,

       Blair Crawford states in his article on the great celebrations of VE-Day that “Canada’s National War Memorial… in memory of the First, was hastily converted with the addition of the years 1939-1945 to its base. Even now, 75 years later, Canada has no national memorial dedicated solely to the Second World War.
       We actually do: It’s Jacques Greber’s Plan for the National Capital, the Federal Government’s Master Plan for the growth and development of the Capital Region, commissioned by Prime Minister Mackenzie King and published in 1950. From the first page of the Introduction, “IN LIEU OF ANY OTHER MEMORIAL OF THE WAR JUST ENDED THE GOVERNMENT HAS APPROVED OF FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF CANADA’S NATIONAL CAPITAL AND ITS ENVIRONMENT ON BOTH SIDES OF THE OTTAWA RIVER.” An extract from the Privy Council Minutes of October 31st, 1945, on page 5 states that Mr. Greber has been engaged “with a view of preparing plans for a suitable long-term development of such area as a National War Memorial.”
      The National Capital Commission was created in 1958 to implement Greber’s Plan. It has shaped Ottawa the way we know it today, giving us Confederation Square, The Greenbelt, the Queensway, the Parkway and others. It is not complete, as the finishing touch still remains to be done. Greber specifies on page 230 that:
      “The most effective improvement will be the  central park at the Chaudiere Falls. (His italics.)
      The time will come when the heavy and obnoxious industries, now occupying the islands, peninsula, and the rocks, from which the falls originally receded, will finally move to more appropriate sites, for their normal development, and more economical operation.
      The Master Plan is a long range programme based on which the Capital will grow; urban planning deserves resolute perseverance, and the Falls will always remain the main feature of Ottawa’s natural setting.
He continues on page 250:
      “The proposed transformation… is properly a restitution scheme, the merits of which can be judged from a great many old prints, which show how impressive was the original setting of the Chaudiere Falls, the Ottawa River banks and the whole of Parliament Hill. Such proposal aims to give a more dignified environment to the representative buildings of the nation, and is more particularly a matter of national pride….
     The restoration of the Chaudiere Islands to their primitive beauty and wildness, is perhaps the theme of greatest importance, from the aesthetic point of view —- the theme that will appeal, not only to local citizens, but to all Canadians who take pride in their country and its institutions.”
      I can’t imagine a more fitting centre to a War Memorial than a central park on the Chaudiere Islands: Prior to European settlement, the area was an Indigenous sacred and peaceful meeting place for at least 5,000 years. Although it is within Algonquin territory, it was considered neutral. People would come from huge distances. They would camp on the riverbanks, leave their weapons behind, and canoe to the Islands to gather in peace. Enemies met here. It was a place of communications and governance. It’s a place without War, which might be unique in this world. It’s the ideal. Canada is a peacekeeping nation. We should be celebrating this.
      We are instead building condos on the heart of our National War Memorial to the Second World War.
                                               Yours sincerely,
                                               Lindsay Lambert.

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