North Novies mural will soon be unveiled in its new location.
The North Nova Scotia Highlanders Mural is about to receive a new home.
The mural, being repainted on panels that will be affixed to the east wall of Amherst’s town hall, will be unveiled on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. during a ceremony celebrating the completion of the project by Jennifer Morris Cormier, who painted the original mural on the south wall of the former Dunlap’s Hardware Building on Havelock Street in 2005.
“We have a number of murals around town to honour and depict history, but one of the challenges is these murals were painted on buildings that weren’t owned or controlled by the town,” Amherst Mayor David Kogon said. “One of the issues is longevity when you don’t have control of the buildings and the other is how the weather impacts them.”
The Highlanders’ mural that was originally painted 13 years ago has become faded and the paint is peeling. Morris Cormier repainted sections of the mural soon after it was unveiled, but it didn’t take long for the paint to begin peeling again, but the Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society disbanded in 2012.
“By putting the mural on panels and putting it on town hall it solves both of those issues,” Kogon said. “In the winter the mural can be brought in and it’s also on a building owned by the town.”
It’s expected the original mural will be painted over.
Ray Coulson, of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum, is looking forward to seeing the finished product. He said the original mural was one of the final acts of the former regimental memory club that disbanded as its members grew older.
“This is great news,” Coulson said. “When CRDA was there, the agreement was they would fix it. When CRDA folded it began to deteriorate and there was no way to fix it.”
Coulson said it’s important to preserve the mural because it represents the history of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, a unit that fought with distinction through northwest Europe from D-Day in June 1944 until the end of the war in May 1945. The mural is also a memorial to the 486 North Novies who were killed during the Second World War.
“Amherst was the only town of this size across Canada to have its own battalion,” Coulson said. “They brought all these people into Amherst to train. Its headquarters was in the armouries and its barracks were in the old Bailey Arena. They all went overseas together from Halifax and 486 didn’t come back.”
Kogon said the mural is about more than the North Novies but also Canada’s war and peacetime legacy. He said it’s important for young people to know about the sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers and how they have contributed to the well-being of others during two world wars, the Korean War, Afghanistan and countless peacekeeping missions since 1945.
“This is such a proud history that I think Canadian children need to know. It tells us where we have come from and we can take enormous pride in how we, as a people and a country, can interact with others,” Kogon said.
Coulson said the town is to be applauded for taking a leadership role in preserving the mural and having it repainted.
While the Highlanders mural is being repainted, the town has yet to determine what it’s going to do about other murals including the Acadian Mural on the Johnson Insurance building, the Music Mural on Princess Street, the Women’s Mural on Prince Arthur Street, the Transportation Mural on Station Street and the Great Amherst Mystery Mural on LaPlanche Street. The Signature Mural was lost when the Bird Building was demolished in 2011 while the craft association mural at Victoria Court was taken down several weeks ago.
A study last year by recreation director Bill Schurman and horticulturalist Chelsea Baird found some of the murals are in poor condition. The hockey mural at the stadium and the Dayle’s mural were found to be in excellent condition while the Acadian mural, Mansour’s mural and the transportation and music murals were in good condition.
Ray Coulson, left, of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and Amherst Mayor David Kogon look at a photo of the original Highlanders mural on Havelock Street. The new repainted mural will be unveiled on the east wall of Amherst’s town hall during a ceremony on Nov. 10.