“Paterson Sailors Memorial Park” Comes Alive Again!

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THUNDER BAY – TBT Engineering Limited (TBTE) is pleased to announce that “Paterson Sailors Memorial Park”, once a well-known land-mark in Thunder Bay, has been brought back to life and will be formally re-introduced to the public and re-dedicated to merchant seafarers in a ceremony later this month.

The park is located at 1918 Yonge Street, home of the former Paterson Shipping company.

The re-introduction and re-dedication of the park will take place on Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 6:00 pm, 64 years to the day after Senator Norman M. Paterson unveiled the initial Paterson Sailors Memorial in what was then Fort William.

At that initial ceremony in 1946, with the world just having emerged from WWII, the local landscape differed significantly from the Thunder Bay we know and love today.  Amalgamation was decades away, so Senator Paterson had both the Mayor of Port Arthur (Chas W. Cox) and the Mayor of Fort William (Garfield Anderson) in attendance.  The Fort William City band played the National Anthem.  The crowd sang “God Save the King” as there was no Sovereign Queen yet.  In fact, Canada didn’t even have its own flag yet, so the Union Jack hung proudly from the park’s flag pole.

Certainly, though a lot has changed since that initial ceremony, the idea behind the creation of the park by Norman Paterson remains the same.  Honoring merchant seafarers who sacrificed for our way of life and freedom during the great wars, particularly WWII remains the priority.  TBT Engineering will honor both the Paterson Family and merchant seafarers at the re-dedication ceremony.

“The Paterson Family has given so much to the city of Thunder Bay over the years, and continues to do so with the on-going generosity of the Paterson Foundation”, says Liana Frenette, CEO of TBT Engineering Limited.  “We are so honored to be able to re-vitalize this park, and just as importantly, re-vitalize and honor the memory of merchant seafarers everywhere”.

Indeed, merchant seafarers played an unsung, albeit vital role in ensuring victory during WWII and consequently, our way of life as we know it today.

The grievous tasks that these men and woman faced during periods of war, and the ultimate price that many paid in doing so, where the primary motivators behind Senator Paterson’s Sailors Park.  If anyone could relate to their struggles, Norman could, as many of his own ships and crew members played an unsung, but paramount role during the most critical period of WWII.

Between 1941 and 1943, the Paterson Shipping Company sent 16 ships to assist in wartime transportation duties.  The primary task was to transport bauxite (an essential raw material used in the creation of aluminum) from mines in the semi-jungles of British and Dutch Guiana to hungry furnaces in Canada and the USA.

The merchant ships of the Paterson Shipping Company, slow and unarmed, where at the mercy of the U-boat killers in the open sea and many a crew showed tremendous courage and dedication as they faced off against guns and torpedoes, not to mention abnormal climates, tropical diseases, as well as lack of proper food and medical attention.

During the course of WWII, Senator Paterson’s company lost 8 ships to U-boat attacks, heavy seas, land mines, shelling, and the like.  Of greater significance and distress to Senator Paterson where the 58 merchant seafarers that lost their lives while serving on his ships during the war.  He decided to create Sailors Park as a lasting legacy to these courageous men and women, who paid the ultimate price for our country’s eventual freedom.

Almost 65 years later, it’s something not lost on anyone at TBT Engineering, as CEO Liana Frenette can attest to.  “Everything that we have done to the park has been with Senator Paterson’s original vision in mind.” she commented recently.  “Using historical photos and recollections from people who remember it the way it used to be, we attempted, and I think succeeded, at re-creating Paterson Sailors Memorial Park the way it used to be.  She added that re-dedicating the park to merchant seafarers was the company’s way of coming “full circle”, as the park will now remain a symbol of what Senator Paterson envisioned 64 years ago.

Jeff Halvorsen, Assistant Business Manager at TBTE and tasked with coordinating the event, says he has studied the original program from 1946 in great detail and has incorporated much of it into the 2010 event that will take place.  “From the Paterson house flags covering the signage that will be unveil right down to the order of proceedings, we’ve tried to include as many aspects from the original program as possible”, says Halvorsen.  “Everything about this ceremony is meant to honor and remember the past, and at the same time celebrate the re-emergence of a true historical landmark in Thunder Bay.”

The original monument that stood for so many years in the park now rests at the Kam River Heritage Park.  New signage will be unveiled on August 30th, along with a unique history regarding the park.

TBT Engineering is inviting everyone to come out and take part in this ceremony, which will get underway at 6:00 pm, rain or shine, and last approximately 40 minutes.

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