RAIS­ING A FLAG, COM­PLET­ING A DREAM

A 60-foot by 30-foot Cana­dian flag at the foot of Ouel­lette Av­enue and River­side Drive will rise on a 15-foot flag­pole dur­ing a for­mal ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony on Satur­day, May 20 – Wind­sor’s 125th birth­day. Here is the story about the man who came up with the

Windsor Star - - CELEBRATING WINDSOR’S 125TH& CANADA’S 150TH - PETER HRASTOVEC SPE­CIAL TO THE WIND­SOR STAR Peter Hrastovec chairs the Great Cana­dian Flag Project and is a cit­i­zen of Wind­sor, On­tario.

To para­phrase the long-stand­ing joke, ‘How many peo­ple does it take to raise a Cana­dian flag?’ the an­swer is: More than you could imag­ine. And if you were to count them all, you would most likely leave some­one out. The Great Cana­dian Flag Project (GCFP) is more than a fiveyear jour­ney by a hand­ful of proud Cana­di­ans, all who de­sired to see a sub­stan­tial flag rise over Dieppe Park near the cor­ner of Ouel­lette and River­side Drive. It took the ef­forts of the City of Wind­sor ad­min­is­tra­tion, its elected of­fi­cials, some ded­i­cated con­trac­tors and jour­ney­men, a team of en­gi­neers, a slew of vol­un­teers, some gen­er­ous donors, the back­ing of the Depart­ment of Canada Her­itage Canada 150 Fund, the sup­port of the Wind­sor-Es­sex Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion -- and the in­spi­ra­tion of one hope­ful dreamer, an un­sung leg­end in the an­nals of lo­cal his­tory. Thomas G.M. McDade loved the Cana­dian flag. As a young man, he at­tended Par­lia­ment Hill on Feb. 15, 1965 and wit­nessed the rais­ing of the very first Red Maple Leaf flag up above the Peace Tower. The mem­ory re­mained etched in his heart. A life­long res­i­dent of Montreal, McDade was happy in his home­town un­til the prov­ince sent his world in a spin with re­stric­tive lan­guage laws mak­ing French the pre­dom­i­nant lan­guage of com­merce. It cost the Englishs­peak­ing McDade his job.

In 1979, he up­rooted his fam­ily from the com­fort of the life they knew and moved to Wind­sor.

McDade quickly em­braced his new home and the beauty and po­ten­tial of the riverfront that he ad­mired. He en­vi­sioned the need for a large Cana­dian flag on a 100foot flag­pole.

In 1980, he em­barked on his one-man cru­sade to bring life to his idea. Re­gret­tably, he en­coun­tered ob­jec­tions, a lack of fi­nan­cial sup­port and the ab­sence of po­lit­i­cal will.

The dream dis­si­pated. Ten years later, Thomas G.M. McDade passed away.

By the time the Great Cana­dian Flag Project took root, there had been a lot of peo­ple who had been toss­ing around the idea of a large flag on the riverfront. Thomas McDade’s pas­sion was largely for­got­ten un­til the cur­rent team — Ann Ar­quette, Mary Baruth, Dave Woodall, Lisa Kolody and my­self —be­gan to piece to­gether sto­ries they had heard about McDade.

The team reached out and con­nected with Tom’s wi­dow, Fay McDade-Smith, and daugh­ter Karen. The more we learned, the greater was our de­sire to give life to his leg­end and to see his dream be­come a re­al­ity.

Through serendip­ity and sheer good for­tune, GCFP rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of McDade’s vi­sion.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion to City Coun­cil in June 1980 Thomas McDade closed his pas­sion­ate re­marks by quot­ing Prime Min­is­ter Lester B. “Mike” Pear­son on the oc­ca­sion of the In­au­gu­ral Rais­ing of the Cana­dian Flag in 1965:

“May the land over which this new flag lies re­main united in free­dom and jus­tice; a land of de­cent God-fear­ing peo­ple; fair and gen­er­ous in all its deal­ings; sen­si­tive, tol­er­ant and com­pas­sion­ate to­wards all men; in­dus­tri­ous, en­er­getic, res­o­lute; wise and just in the giv­ing of se­cu­rity and op­por­tu­nity equally to all its cul­tures, and strong in its ad­her­ence to those moral prin­ci­ples which are the only sure guide to greatness.”

More than 50 years later, we raise our own flag, we re­mem­ber the late Thomas G. M. McDade and we em­brace the noble words of our late Prime Min­is­ter Pear­son as we con­tinue to­gether to pur­sue our col­lec­tive and bril­liant Na­tional Dream.

O Canada …. Our Canada.

Marty Ger­vais

Marty Ger­vais is the city of Wind­sor’s poet lau­re­ate. He will be read­ing this poem at the ded­i­ca­tion of the Great Cana­dian Flag ded­i­ca­tion ser­vice at Dieppe Gar­dens Satur­day, May 20 at 10:45 a.m, fol­low­ing the an­nual Mayor’s Walk.

- COURTESY PETER HRASTOVEC

Thomas McDade, who came up with the idea of a giant flag on Wind­sor’s wa­ter­front, is shown with his son Shane in this un­dated pho­to­graph. Both Thomas and Shane have since died.

- WIND­SOR STAR FILE / NICK BRANCACCIO

Peter Hrastovec, chair of the Great Cana­dian Flag Project, is shown at the foot of Ouel­lette Av­enue at Dieppe Park in Jan­uary prior to the in­stal­la­tion of a 150-foot flag­pole.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.