December 15, 2016
Thornbusch Landscaping owner Paul Doornbos was recognized for his volunteer efforts in helping to revitalize the War Memorial in Gananoque’s Town Park earlier this year.

In recognition of his contribution and dedication to the project, the Legion presented Doornbos with the first poppy of the year.

The memorial, dedicated in 1920, was showing its age and members of the local Royal Canadian Legion made plans to restore it for Remembrance Day in 2016, to mark the 100th anniversary of the costliest period for local soldiers during the First World War. In addition, the area around the memorial needed work, as it was not built in a very accessible location.

Thornbusch Landscaping was hired to do some of the work, including a small interlocking stone apron around the memorial. Doornbos then pointed out some other changes that could have a much larger impact. “What has always bugged me about the location is the memorial sits in the middle of nowhere,” Doornbos explained. “The area is not connected to the street and is not approachable at all. The vets are advanced in years and there is no easy way for them to get to the memorial.”

To remedy the situation, Doornbos told his client he would make it right — at no additional cost. So Doornbos used his expertise and designed an expanded interlocking stone area around the entire memorial that met accessibility regulations. It resulted in his crew having to remove a lot more material and build a wall that was not in the original quote, but the $6,000 worth of labour Thornbusch Landscaping donated made sure the project was done right.

Started in late September with sod laid down Oct. 11,  Doornbos said his “goal was to have the job done far enough in advance of Remembrance Day for the sod to take.”

“Being a first generation Canadian, Remembrance Day has always been a big deal for me,” Doornbos said, citing his main reason for getting involved was to honour his parents who immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands after it was liberated by Canadian soldiers at the end of the Second World War.

“Canada opened their arms to the Dutch right after the war,” Doornbos said. “This country gave my grandparents and parents many opportunities, and I have the luxury of significant opportunities as a result. It’s just a great way to give back.”

One of the project organizers, Bill Beswetherick, historian for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92, says the project would not have happened without the involvement and expertise from Doornbos and his team.