Letter to the Editor: Mother Canada No ‘Rough Beast’

Mother Canada artist's renderingIn a recent article, Mary Campbell raises some concerns regarding the Never Forgotten National Memorial (NFNM). To describe Mother Canada (which is, by permission of the Allward family, modeled after Walter Seymour Allward’s Mother Bereft at Vimy, France) as “some rough beast” is inappropriate — would she apply the same sobriquet to Canada Bereft?

After public consultation, Mother Canada was reduced in size to less than 5 feet taller than the Big Fiddle on the Sydney boardwalk. In addition, the NFNM Foundation has met with and satisfied a Detailed Environmental Impact Analysis and the Indigenous Mi’Kmaq Educational Study requested by Parks Canada which already had Green Cove set aside for recreational and educational use. Currently, there is a paved parking lot, a board walk and a memorial bench on the site and, one time, outdoor privies were available.

Eric Le Bel has been superintendent at CBHNP since Nov 15, 2015.

The People North of Smokey and Beyond Who Believe in The NFNM (NOS) has over 1500 members and has a website friendsofourfallen.ca which outlines and updates ongoing activities.

Recently, the NOS group erected a sign on the Cabot Trail in Ingonish promoting the project. By contrast, the so called Friends of Green Cove numbers less than 80 with only five living North of Smokey.

Ms Campbell listed some of the prominent Canadians who support the NFNM but did a disservice to her paper by including the “E.I.E.I.O.” note with the name of renowned indigenous architect, Mr Douglas Cardinal.

For the People North of Smokey, the project is very much alive and we will be actively promoting the NFNM during the coming federal election.


Ray Stapleton,
Ingonish Centre


Mary Campbell replies:

I thank Ray Stapleton for the additional information he has provided on the status of the Mother Canada project. I particularly thank him for the correction of my factual error — namely, misidentifying the current superintendent of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park as Helene Robichaud. I had relied (unwisely) on LinkedIn, which told me Robichaud was still in that position.

In answer to his question, no, I would not apply the sobriquet “rough beast” to the original Canada Bereft statue. (Although she does have her critics, one of whom suggested she looks like she’s poised to leap off the monument.)

I take some comfort in the news that a revamped Mother Canada will be “less than five feet taller” than the Big Fiddle on the Sydney waterfront. That she will no longer be large enough to conceivably play the Big Fiddle on the Sydney waterfront is an improvement. But I still can’t get behind the project.

That is in part because I question the wisdom of taking an 80-year-old statue, blowing it up out of all proportion, changing the position of its arms and calling it a war memorial. But it is chiefly because, no matter what it’s proportions, I don’t think this monument belongs in a national park. (And I feel the need to point out here that our national parks belong to all Canadians, not just those who live within walking distance of them.)

Stapleton believes that in adding “E.I.E.I.O.” to the long string of letters appended to Douglas Cardinal’s name on the NFNM website I was making fun of Cardinal, so now it is I who must set him straight: I was not making fun of Cardinal, I was making fun of the NFNM and its credential fetish.

I meant no disrespect to Cardinal (who, I suspect, does not sign himself: “Mr. Douglas Cardinal, O.C., Ph.D. (h.c.), B.Arch, O.A.A., A.A.A., S.A.A., A.I.B.C., A.I.A., NCARB, R.C.A.A., F.R.A.I.C., F.R.I.A.S., F.R.S.C.” as the NFM does).

I wish Stapleton and I were on the same side of this issue. I admire his tenacity — he has been tireless in his support of Mother Canada. But I hope his dream never becomes a reality.

Mary Campbell, B.J. (Hons), M.C.B.R.L.,1 P.D.L.L.C.2



  1. Member of the Cape Breton Regional Library
  2. Possessor of a Dr. Luke’s Loyalty Card