/Legion’s care repairs wear and tear to cairn
Justin Rowden of JR Masonry, with Minden’s downtown cairn. Rowden worked to repair the cairn, which has been restored in time to commemorate Remembrance Day on Nov. 11./Photo by Amanda Rowden

Legion’s care repairs wear and tear to cairn

By Sue Tiffin

The county cairn located in Minden’s Village Green will be in fine form for the upcoming Remembrance Day service, and for years to come, after the Minden Legion funded its restoration. 

“We brought it right back to life,” said Legion president Jim Ross. “It was going to collapse, the whole thing was falling apart. The cement was falling right out of it, the water was getting into it. It was really in bad shape, but now it’s been totally restored, and a wonderful job. It’s quite a job, he’s done a remarkable job.”

The ‘he’ Ross refers to is Justin Rowden, who owns JR Masonry and responded to a call from the Legion executive and sergeant-at-arms Dick Schell to repair and restore the cairn from a state of disrepair.

“We wanted to get it fixed before we could meet again with a large crowd, because it just wasn’t safe,” said Schell. “It was kind of falling apart, frost had busted some of the stones out, and it was looking pretty shabby. It was almost unsafe to be close to … I asked a couple of contractors, only Justin came back to me so he got the job and I’m glad I got him.”

Though it was a short time between when Rowden first looked at the project and when he began working on it, he said the difference was significant.

“There was a substantial difference actually of how much worse it was,” said Rowden. “It was, fix it now, or it’d be stones all laying on the ground in the spring, type thing.”

Rowden has been doing masonry work for more than two decades, and has had his own business for the past three years. The cairn was a special project, but also not dissimilar to the work he does on a regular basis.

Justin Rowden of JR Masonry replaced stones before regrouting the cairn in a restoration project funded entirely by the Minden Legion. /Sue Tiffin STAFF

Rowden said that just like with many chimneys, it was essential to pour a proper concrete cap to replace the stone cap.

“It’s not very good when they put stone on top because the water just penetrates into those grout lines,” he said. He replaced the stones that were in rough shape, regrouted the whole cairn to ensure the colour of the cement would be consistent as it dried, spent about three hours grinding paint off the bottom before parging it and also applied stone sealer to the cap and the stone to help prevent water penetration. The project took him about two weeks.

“It was kind of neat being able to do, for the town,” he said. “I really enjoyed doing it. I put a lot of time into it. It’s a lot better, it looks a lot different than it did before. It was in pretty rough shape because it had taken on a lot of water down behind. That’s where the problem was, every time it would rain it would get in there.”

Schell, Ross and fellow Legion members are relieved the work is done and the cairn has been restored. 

“It’s kind of a town landmark, and for those that gave their lives for us it’s the least we can do,” said Schell. “It’s great to have it there and we’ve got to keep it in good shape for them.”

The Legion’s poppy campaign begins Oct. 29 and a small Remembrance Day service will be held Nov. 11.