The Niagara Region, specifically it’s neighbour St.Catharines, has honoured those lost on September 11th with a touching memorial walkway, overlooking a great lake and near a place of renewed lie, the Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary.
Niagara Region September 11th Memorial
September 11 was a day that is now forever marked with the attack on US soil, but the event had global effects. Even stepping away from the diplomatic ramifications of the attack, the victims of the incident were not just US-born. Approximately 372 foreign nationals were killed at the World Trade Center on that day, from over sixty nations. Canadian losses from that number equalled 27.
Most people don’t know that there’s a 9/11 memorial in Niagara. As far as memorials go, and the normal image of monuments erected to mourn tragedy or historical events being huge stone obelisks or statues, it’s comparatively humble.
To find the walkway, look for Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary –it’s on Read Road near Port Weller, west of Niagara-on-the-Lake. This sanctuary is near the Welland Canal, the massive thoroughfare for water-based freight heading inland past Niagara Falls. Ship enthusiasts won’t have to go far to see the massive canal chambers in action and birdwatchers can usually catch at least a glimpse of various water fowl in or near the sanctuary.
The north facing of the sanctuary joins the Waterfront Trail, a continuous walkway that encircles most of Lake Ontario. It’s here, behind the sanctuary, that one will find the memorial walkway.
Along the lakeshore are 27 planted trees, all deciduous but different individual varieties – pine, sugar maple, American beech, etc. Each tree is dedicated to one of the Canadian victims, and each tree is accompanied by a small memorial plaque.
The main memorial centrepiece is just off the trail – a separate plaque that illustrates the long list of local businesses that sponsored this project and help bring it into being. This is a communal site.
The memorial is not one of feigned grandness or opulence. It’s a quiet, natural hideaway, easy to get to but not obvious from a distance. The benches near each tree plaque face Lake Ontario, providing an opportunity for quiet reflection in a tranquil environment. And ultimately, it’s in a bird sanctuary because it surrounds a tribute to the fallen with an abundance of life. Despite the loss on that fateful day, there’s symbolism there that can hopefully provide some comfort to those left behind.
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