Legacy of Lt.-Col. Samuel Sharpe lives on in Uxbridge

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Legacy of Lt.-Col. Samuel Sharpe lives on in Uxbridge

Post by Trooper on Fri 05 Jan 2018, 7:45 am

Monuments and historic home of local war hero dominate news

Jan 05, 2018

By Moya Dillon

A relief bust of Lt-Col. Sharpe created by Scugog artist Tyler Briley was presented to the Speaker of the House on Thursday, July 30.

UXBRIDGE — The legacy of Lt.-Col. Samuel Sharpe lives on in his hometown, with the local war hero dominating news nearly 100 years after his death.

This year saw continued debate over a bust of the Lt.-Col created by Scugog artist Tyler Briley. The bust, commissioned by the previous Conservative government in 2015, was supposed to hang in the Parliament buildings, but the move was delayed by the change in government, and the bust remains in storage in Ottawa.

“It was a significant step for the Canadian government to be taking, to show those who served, and those serving as first responders, that PTSD is being accepted, that the stigma is being broken down,” said Briley of Sharpe’s tragic story.

A prominent Uxbridge lawyer, Sharpe was first elected to the House of Commons in 1908. When war broke out he raised a battalion of men from around Durham Region and led them into such famous battles as Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Avion.

In 1917 he was the only MP to be re-elected to the House while fighting on the front. However, after losing many of his men, including his best friend, he was hospitalized with what was then called nervous shock, but is now recognized as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He returned to Canada for treatment but died after throwing himself from the window of his Montreal hospital. He never returned to his seat in the House, and his name was virtually forgotten.

“This is about righting an historical wrong and helping us talk about PTSD and operational stress injuries today,” said Erin O’Toole, Durham MP, who originally championed Sharpe’s story and commissioned the relief during his time as Minister of Veterans Affairs.

“This is to show that anybody can be struck by mental illness or a mental injury. There were no treatment options in his day, but there are now. Veterans have really resonated with this story and how almost a century later we’re still talking about it.”

Uxbridge council added their voice to the chorus urging the current Liberal government to display the piece.

“This is someone who served as MP and lost their life as a result of having to go to war, there’s nothing political about this as far as I’m concerned,” said Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor during a council meeting on Nov. 13, during which councillors voted in favour of sending a letter to Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs, to voice their concerns on the delay.

“He needs to be displayed and given the recognition he deserves.”




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