A very special event will be part of this community's 2009 Canada Day Party on July 1. Following the raising of the flag and the singing of the National Anthem, scheduled for 1 p.m., Mayor Jamie Hahn will introduce a number of important guests. Family members of some of the crew of HMCS Stone Town, the World War II frigate named after the Town of St. Marys, are expected to be in attendance.Our community received notice in mid-March 1944 that it had been honoured with the choice of the name Stone Town for a new naval vessel. Several town officials travelled to Montreal to see the ship launched from the Vickers yards. She was commissioned July 21, 1944 and did almost a full year of convoy duty on the North Atlantic until the war in Europe ended in May 1945.During that year, a warm relationship developed between local people and Stone Town crew members. Service groups raised funds to send the ship "comforts" ' items including hand-knit wool socks, scarves and balaclavas; recreational items such as books, decks of cards, cigarettes and even a record player. Surprisingly, a washing machine also made the trip from St. Marys to Stone Town. When the war was over, some of the crew visited St. Marys to see for themselves just why it was also called "Stone Town."An additional symbolic link was forged after HMCS Stone Town was taken off the operation rolls late in 1945. The Department of National Defence arranged to have the ship's bell presented to the Town of St. Marys. The bell has a place of honour in the St. Marys Museum. Honouring surviving Stone Town veterans on Canada Day was the early spring suggestion of Spencer Campbell of Toronto who has been researching aspects of his father's wartime service. Now 89 years old, John Campbell was a young officer on Stone Town in 1945. He kept in touch with a number of men who served with him. The Canada Day committee is trying to contact as many surviving veterans as possible to invite them to St. Marys for Canada Day. Thorndale resident Fran Redman, who has been researching HMCS Stone Town for years, is helping to locate these men or their families.At first, Canada Day seemed too immediate to organize an appropriate commemoration; postponing the occasion to a date closer to Remembrance Day was considered. However, Spencer Campbell made a strong case to avoid delay because of the age of these surviving crew members. Very unfortunately, his own father John has recently been hospitalized and will not be able to come to St. Marys.It is a similar story for a number of others who live in this part of Ontario. However, there is still a chance that one or two might attend and a number of family members have accepted the invitation. Some will be bringing along photographs and other memorabilia of Stone Town. Following the official ceremonies, family members will be able to show these items in the resource room of the Museum where local people can meet them and learn something about the history of this World War II ship with the St. Marys connection. Other Canada Day eventsThe official flag raising and singing of the national anthem takes place at 1 p.m., however, the town's party begins at 11 a.m. in Cadzow Park with a barbecue lunch and live entertainment. Don't forget to check out the winners of the Canada Day Colouring Contest (entry form available on Page 28), as well as special exhibits in the Museum, Home Support Services' penny auction, and the Youth Centre yard sale.There is also free swimming at Cadzow pool, and don't forget to wear your patriotic red and white — you could win the Colours of Canada costume contest.
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