'She would have some choice words': Plaque commemorating Edmontonian's late mother among 123 stolen
EDMONTON -- "What's the saying? Those who don't know history don't learn from it, or are doomed to repeat it?" Sheelagh Perry mused, sitting on the memorial bench on Victoria Promenade that used to bear her late mother's name.
"Maybe these folks who took the plaques should learn about the folks whose names are on them."
Margaret Grace Walsh Perry's plaque was stolen sometime since her daughter last visited, two weeks ago.
On Monday, Perry brought a paper replacement to tape in place of the absent bronze plate.
Her makeshift memorial reads, "Margaret Grace Walsh Perry, 1909, a member of the greatest generation, to 2002," in reference to her mother's survival of two world wars and the Great Depression.
"It's a history lesson for people walking along here, too, because you recognize names that you heard of and people who have historical significance or were important parts of building this city," Perry said.
The makeshift plaque also contains quote from Shakespeare: "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety."
Perry recalled, "She was never boring."
According to numbers updated by the City of Edmonton on Monday, Walsh Perry's plaque is only one of 94 that have been stolen from the promenade – in addition to three from River Valley Road and 26 others from Grant Notley Park.
"Somebody saw a price here. They didn't see the value," Perry said.
A total of 123 placards are missing.
"I was in tears, essentially. This morning when I got up, I was more sensibly angry," Perry told CTV News Edmonton.
"I just thought, 'I'm just not going to let these grinches with hearts that are two sizes too small get away with it.' That's her bench. So I wrote up the plaque."
The city's parks and roads branch manager also believes the metal plates are being stolen and resold.
"I don’t know what an individual would get, probably pennies on the dollar for the actual metal," Brian Simpson told CTV News Edmonton on Sunday.
However, the estimated cost of replacing the plaques is over $10,000.
While the city has said it will pay to install new memorials, it is also advocating a sale process that would see transactions tracked and recorded.
"There’s no legislative requirement to report and that’s a challenge and it’s been a challenge with copper wire thefts, with other metals. This is just a proliferation of that same issue," Simpson said.
He asked buyers to pay attention and notify the city if they see plaques being sold: "Please, these are unique. It’s not hard to figure out what they’re about."
Meanwhile, Perry plans to spend more time on the promenade near her mother, who she described as a well-read and charming woman.
"I don't know that you would want to air what my mom would say to the thieves. She had a fighting Irish background," Perry speculated.
"I'm sure she would have some choice words to share with them, and perhaps she'd want to speak to their mothers."
The Edmonton Police Service is investigating.
In August 2017, a man was charged after 18 military memorial plaques were stolen from the Griesbach community and later turned up at an Edmonton scrap-metal yard.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett and Amanda Anderson, and The Canadian Press