League of Nations outside the Civic Centre (14 photos)Sunday, September 15, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
Seven more national flags were added to the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s rows of founding nation flags outside the Civic Centre in a special ceremony Sunday afternoon.
The flags of Norway, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were raised.
A first group of 25 flags was raised in 2009 as a City of Sault Ste. Marie initiative, followed by the raising of seven more flags in 2011 prior to today’s ceremony.
The flag display acknowledges the contributions made to Sault Ste. Marie by its multicultural population.
Myrta Rivers raised the flag of Switzerland.
Rivers (whose maiden name is Wiederkehr) is pictured at right with daughter Anne Trudel.
Rivers, 77, came to Canada from Switzerland with her parents and siblings in 1950, settling in Desbarats where her father worked on a farm.
Rivers has family members currently living in Sault Ste. Marie, including her daughter Anne.
“It makes me really emotional. It’s just wonderful,” Rivers said of today’s ceremony.
Rivers told SooToday.com she still gets homesick for her native land, but “both Canada and Switzerland are in my heart.”
“When I go overseas and see the Swiss mountains I cry. When I come back and see Air Canada amid all the Swiss planes at the airport I cry again. I love both countries.”
Trudel said Switzerland’s notoriously staunch neutrality, which gives it a reputation of diplomatic stability in times of conflict, can be viewed as that country’s greatest quality, adding that part of local historic figure Charles Oakes Ermatinger’s roots were in Switzerland.
Flags of all nations represented outside the Civic Centre were raised Sunday, including those already represented in previous flag-raising ceremonies.
Ann Elsigan was in attendance to raise the flag of Austria.
Elsigan moved to Canada in 1952 and has worked in the restaurant industry for many years, most notably as owner/operator of the Salzburger Hof Resort north of Sault Ste. Marie since 1972.
“We bring good food, for sure, and we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for my family.”
“Canada is home for me, but I feel quite honoured to raise the Austrian flag,” Elsigan said.
The flag initiative was spearheaded several years ago by City Councillor Steve Butland, who stated at Sunday’s ceremony: “I think this is a project that keeps on giving, and this is an initiative that keeps on going.”
“When you drive down Russ Ramsay Way you see these flags blowing and you can sense the pride.”
Butland added the flags of The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Morocco could be added in the future.