Orangeville’s Bravery Park slated for completion next summer

November 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

It’s mission almost accomplished for mother-daughter duo Shannon and Valerie McGrady, who last week announced the innovative Bravery Park project at Alder Recreation Centre, will be completed by summer of 2020. 

The excitement was palpable as the McGradys gathered alongside supporters and committee members at the site on Friday (Nov. 8) to officially unveil the new playground component of Bravery Park. An initiative close to a decade in the making, this was a special moment for Shannon, who, for perhaps the first time, has finally started to see the light at the end of the long, windy tunnel.

“It feels incredible to be here today, at Bravery Park, to celebrate the commemoration of the new playground,” Shannon told the Citizen. “This finally feels real. It’s actually happening. It’s all starting to come together. We’re really proud of what this site has become, and we can’t wait to see it finished. It’s going to be a great thing for our community.”

The Bravery Park project was first launched by Shannon and Valerie back in 2010 as they sought to provide local residents with a place of reflection to honour the bravery, achievements and sacrifices of members of the Canadian military. The park, which will boast four key features, sits on grounds behind the Alder Recreation Centre. 

While the notion of Bravery Park today represents a number of positive ideologies, according to Shannon, it was one born out of tragedy. On May 25, 2007, Orangeville native Matthew McCully – brother to Shannon and son to Valerie – was killed by a roadside bomb near a small village outside of Kandahar City, Afghanistan. In what was his second tour of the wartorn Middle Eastern nation, Cpl. McCully was a member of the Operation Mentoring and Liaison Team that trained Afghani soldiers before his untimely death. 

The first phase of development at Bravery Park saw the playground, funded by the Amaranth Lion’s Club to the tune of $34,000, and a medicine wheel, funded and completed by the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle, completed this summer. A second and final phase will boast a memorial stone and seven-foot bronze monument, depicting a Canadian soldier kneeling beside two Afghani children. 

“The memorial stone is in production right now. It will have words of bravery on it, dedicated to our Canadian soldiers. The statue is currently being stored. We commissioned that last year, after receiving a $45,000 grant from Veteran’s Affairs,” Shannon said. “We’re working with (local landscaping company) Whispering Pines right now to finalize design, and we’re hoping to be able to install (the stone and statue) in the spring, with a final Bravery Park grand opening in the summer, or fall, of 2020.”

In total, the project, upon completion, will have cost approximately $180,000. Shannon informed the Citizen that, while not actively fundraising, the committee still needed to come up with around $20,000.

Highlighted during Friday’s gathering was what Shannon called a “special component” of the playground at Bravery Park – a student-designed visual that has been built into the structure.

“We had students from Robert F. Hall in Caledon participate in a challenge we put out to the community, that called for individuals to create a piece of art that amplifies not only the bravery of our Canadian soldiers, but the compassionate side and peacekeeping side of our military,” Shannon said. “It was a tough thing for these students to bring together, but we’re really pleased with what our winner was able to do.”

Britten Woolley’s design featured a sideways view of a Canadian soldier, placed on a background largely made up of the Canadian flag. 

“It was a really tough decision picking a winner. We had so many submissions, but at the end of the day, there were three key elements that allowed Britten’s design to stand out,” Shannon noted. “She had the Canadian flag, which all of our soldiers wear proudly, featured prominently, with the soldier, which can be regarded as male or female depending on your point of view, something I personally love, front and centre. The piece is then finished off with doves overhead, which signifies peacekeeping.”

In closing, Shannon reiterated why Bravery Park has been such an important project, and, indeed, a mission for the past ten years.

“In Canada, we can live freely because of the work our Canadian soldiers do. In many other parts of the world, children are getting that education, and communities are receiving that governance because of the assistance of Canadian soldiers,” Shannon said. “Bravery Park will provide a tangible way to connect our children, youth and adults to the work our soldiers do all over the world.”

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.