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Workers memorial for Welland Canal

This weekend marks the anniversary of the Welland Canal opening; a momentous occasion marred by the deaths of 137 workers during construction. The project was completed on August 6 1932 and now a number of people are working to ensure those who lost their lives are remembered.Shirley Munro says her husband’s grandfather was one of the 137 men who lost their lives building the Welland Canal. Sixty-four-year-old Joseph Stahl died falling from scaffolding 60 feet high.In 2013 the Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force was commissioned after stories of the major losses of life came to light.Yesterday and today cemetery tours in the Niagara-area were held to tell the stories of the workers killed–the youngest only 15 years old.Jill Beluga says her grandfather, George Plummer, also died building the canal after immigrating from England. Jill, however, says her grandfather’s death is not counted in the memorial because it’s not considered a direct result of construction.In 1915, two years after the beginning of canal construction, the Ontario Worker’s Compensation Act was passed, meaning families of workers who died as a result of construction were compensated. Those killed two years prior to the act being passed, on the other hand, received nothing.A book profiling each of the fallen workers will be available at the beginning of next year and an official memorial is set to be unveiled this fall, ensuring the men who lost their lives will be forever remembered.

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