Cairn up­grade

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

One of Glen­garry’s most distinc­tive, and old­est, land­marks is get­ting a ma­jor up­grade.

A let­ter from Hugh Ostrom, Parks Canada Su­per­in­ten­dent of Na­tional His­toric Sites, Ge­or­gian Bay and On­tario East, ad­dressed to South Glen­garry Mayor Ian McLeod – a copy of which was in­cluded in the agenda pack­age for the Sept. 5 reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing – states that the fed­eral agency has ear­marked $693,000 to sta­bi­lize the Glen­garry Cairn.

Parks Canada – which de­clared the Cairn a Na­tional His­toric Site in 1921 – is cur­rently work­ing through the con­tract­ing process for what Mr. Ostrom calls “the sec­ond phase of re­source pro­tec­tion projects on the is­land in re­cent mem­ory.”

In 2010, Parks Canada sta­bi­lized the shore­line of Cairn/Mon­u­ment Is­land – lo­cated in the St. Lawrence River op­po­site South Lan­caster – to pro­tect against ero­sion.

The mon­u­ment, de­scribed by Mr. Ostrom as “a cul­tural land­mark of Scot­tish mil­i­tary her­itage,” was built circa 1840/41 un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Lt.-Col. Lewis Carmichael, by the Glen­garry High­landers and Glen­garry Mili­tia, which had aided in the sup­pres­sion of the Re­bel­lions in Lower Canada (Que­bec) in 1837 and 1838.

It was ded­i­cated to Sir John Col­borne – who was in charge of the mil­i­tary forces dur­ing those cam­paigns – the Glen­garry High­landers and Mili­tia, and the 52nd Fraser High­landers, which he com­manded dur­ing the Bat­tle of Water­loo in 1815.

Mr. Col­borne, who died in the U.K. in 1863, was also Lieu­tenant-Gover­nor of Up­per Canada from Novem­ber 1828 to Jan­uary 1836, and Gover­nor-Gen­eral in 1839.

Cairn Is­land has been off-lim­its to the pub­lic since 2009 when the dis­cov­ery of bones led to claims of a sa­cred First Na­tions burial ground there, and a long-run­ning land claim dis­pute in­volv­ing lo­cal First Na­tions bands and Parks Canada has also pre­vented it from re-open­ing.

De­spite the ex­pen­di­ture of nearly three­quar­ters of a mil­lion dol­lars from the pub­lic purse to re­ha­bil­i­tate the Cairn, it won’t re­vert to its pre­vi­ous sta­tus any­time soon.

“Parks Canada has no plans to re-open the is­land to the pub­lic,” re­it­er­ated Mr. Ostrom.

“We rec­og­nize the long his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural con­nec­tion the Mo­hawks of Ak­we­sasne have with the Cairn Is­land, or T si kat sin a kw a here. Parks Canada has en­trusted the stew­ard­ship of the is­land to them for the past 20 years and will con­tinue to do so.”

He adds that the fed­eral de­part­ment is “cur­rently seek­ing other ways to help share the story of Glen­garry Cairn Na­tional His­toric Site and Cairn Is­land with lo­cal res­i­dents and vis­i­tors,” and “looks for­ward” to work­ing with the town­ship “on the fu­ture in­ter­pre­ta­tion el­e­ments for the Cairn to en­sure its sto­ries are also pre­served.”

De­spite hav­ing been closed to the pub­lic for al­most a decade, the Glen­garry Cairn Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Site is in­cluded in the Canada

Na­tional Parks Dis­cov­ery Pass 150 which al­lows hold­ers un­lim­ited free ad­mis­sion to all na­tional parks, his­toric sites and ma­rine con­ser­va­tion ar­eas op­er­ated by Parks Canada through the end of 2017.

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