Unifor members who work on the Welland Canal marked the National Day of Mourning by honouring those who lost their lives in its construction a century ago.
Local 4212, representing operations, maintenance and clerical employees of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Niagara and Cornwall, donated $25,000 to help build a memorial to the fallen workers.
Members of the Local joined relatives of lost workers, representatives of the Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force and local and federal politicians at the April 28 ceremony.
“The memorial will recognize all of the workers who lost their lives building this truly amazing engineering marvel,” said Local 4212 Chairperson Rory Dempsey. “We are proud to honour their hard work and sacrifice.”
The memorial will pay tribute to the 137 workers who died while building the canal, in what is believed to be the largest loss of life on a federal government infrastructure project in Canadian history.
Construction projects of the time worked with the expectation that one man would die for every $1 million spent. The Welland Canal cost $130 million. The memorial will be inscribed with the 137 names of the fallen, their places of birth and the age that they died.
Walter Sendzik, Mayor of St. Catharines, Ontario, acknowledged the donation for the memorial, scheduled to be unveiled in his city later this year.
“On behalf of the Task Force, I’d like to thank Unifor Local 4212 and family members of the fallen workers for the thoughtful donation in honour of our fallen workers,” said Sendzik.