By Kristine MacDougall, Tillsonburg News
Middlesex London, Joe Preston (third from left) and Bayham Mayor
It’s full steam ahead for Project Ojibwa and the new Elgin Military Museum of Naval History.
“It’s a great day for Bayham and the region,” said Bayham Mayor Paul Ens. “A lot of kudos go to the Elgin Military Museum and committee members for bringing it so far to fruition. I think it’s going to be a great thing for Bayham, the area and all of Canada.”
The official groundbreaking ceremony took place Tuesday afternoon, amid fanfare and applause on site of the future home of the HMCS Ojibwa in Port Burwell.
Project Coordinator Dan McNeil said the ball is rolling and it will be a very busy time in Port Burwell over the next few weeks.
“We immediately went to our contractors who tendered for the foundation,” said McNeil. “We have tendered those contracts - I expected to see surveyors on the property today. I think you’ll see earth moving equipment as early as next week.
“The current schedule would have the big pilings and concrete pads that the Ojibwa will sit on, in place by the Canada Day weekend.”
McNeil was set to fly out Wednesday to Halifax on behalf of the Elgin Military Museum, to oversee the docking of the HMCS Ojibwa, which is expected to take place either on Friday or Saturday of this week.
“When the HMCS Ojibwa goes into the dock, and the dock lifts it out of the water, it officially belongs to the Elgin Military Museum,” he said.
McNeil noted the number of people involved in Project Ojibwa over the last several years and the amount of support it has received in recent months.
Joe Preston, Member of Parliament for Elgin Middlesex London has been one of Project Ojibwa’s biggest supporters from the beginning and was thrilled to a part of the groundbreaking ceremony on such an historical occasion.
“Look around and see the number of volunteers and the amount of effort that’s gone into this project,” said Preston. “We’re looking towards the future and what this could mean for the economic development of this area.”
Preston said the HMCS Ojibwa will be great for families, students, businesses and individuals from all over the country. The project is, noted Preston, a reflection of what can happen when a community puts its mind to something.
“It takes every level of government, it takes all the clubs, all the people to get behind something like this,” he added. “I think there was a bit of disbelief in the beginning but now look what’s happening.”
A number of Port Burwell residents came out to take in the spectacle and official groundbreaking ceremony for the HMCS Ojibwa Tuesday afternoon. They were joined by members of the board of directors for the Elgin Military Museum, government officials, representatives from the Municipality of Bayham and other interested individuals.
McNeil said that with the ball now rolling on Project Ojibwa and the new Elgin Military Museum of Naval History, reality will soon sink in for residents of Bayham and the surrounding communities.
“People are going to all of a sudden realize that, holy smokes, this is really happening,” McNeil concluded. “It’s going to be big.”