Monument honours sacrifices

By John Nagy
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

CONMEE TWP., ONT. — The Northwestern Ontario Military and Police Museum will have a monument unveiling later this month.

On Sept. 24, the museum in Conmee Township will reveal the memorial pillar recognizing wars that started in 1812 right up to the end of the Afghanistan War last year on one side.

The other side of the monument honours the six Northwestern Ontario police officers who were killed in the line of duty.

The wife of fallen Const. John Kusznier, the Thunder Bay police officer who died in a shootout on Jan. 15, 1978, and her two sons Steve and Mark will raise the curtain on the monument at the museum complex on Hume Road.

Bob Manns, the founder and co-owner of the museum with his wife Gayle, said the project’s distinction is in the details.

“Not only does (the monument) give you the dates of the wars, but tells you how many were wounded and how many were killed,” said Manns, who is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, which preceded him becoming an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

“Even when Lakehead Monument did the engraving, the guy who did it said, ‘My God, I never realized how many people died and how many people were wounded. This is very interesting.’ The opposite side recognizes the six police officers that gave their lives in the line of duty in Northwestern Ontario.”

Also attending the ceremony will be Thunder Bay acting police chief Dan Taddeo, representatives from the OPP Veterans Association and the Thunder Bay Youth Corps.

The museum is also hoping to secure the attendance of Second World War veterans from each of the Navy, Army and Air Forces.

Performing at the unveiling will be the Thunder Bay Pipes and Drums, a musket salute from Fort William Historical Park, the playing of the Last Post and reveille by Ken Milenko, the Flipper Flanagan band and Second World War songs from students at Thunder Bay Christian School.

“(Thunder Bay Christian School) has always supported the Kakabeka Falls Royal Canadian Legion with essays and artwork every Remembrance Day,” Manns said.

“They have always done that. I approached them and said, ‘I would really like Thunder Bay Christian School, because of your background and the families of who you are, to come out for that unveiling and sing some (Second World War) songs.’ The (director of operations Jolene Makkinga) looked at me and said, ‘What date do you want?’ I said, “You’re the (director of operations) of the school, you know when the kids are available, you pick it.’

“She said, ‘OK, Sept. 24.’ I said ‘That’s a Saturday. School won’t be in.’ She said, ‘We will be there.’ That’s such an inspiration to kids. Dutch children are raised to remember the Canadians who liberated Holland. It was the Canadians that liberated Holland and set the Dutch people free. Their parents and grandparents always remind them of that.”

The museum, which opened in 2003 and saw a new building erected on the property in 2019, features an original sword from 1812, original 1851 six-shot baby Colt revolver, Second World War German Mauser sniper rifle, original police breathalyzer machines and uniforms from almost every police force in Northwestern Ontario.

The museum has also restored military vehicles from the 1950s, which are licensed, insured and operable on the road where Manns said they take the war machines to visit seniors.