The Col. James Layton Ralston is in danger of being torn down, leaving another hole in the fabric of our historic town.
The federal government first said they would repair and refurbish this facility, now they have decide to divest themselves of it.
We cannot allow this building to be lost as it is important to this town on several levels. It was built using red sandstone, from the Amherst red sandstone company, built it in 1915. This makes it a heritage building. and has been recognized as such by the federal government.
The North Nova Scotia Highlanders, who have been in Amherst since 1871, called it home. It was a recruiting and training facility for the First World War and it served the same function in the Second World War.
My grandfather enlisted there for the First World War, my father enlisted there in 1940. He served his five years overseas and came home. Others were not as lucky. Many gave their lives and are buried on foreign soil. This building is as much an icon of their sacrifice, as the monument in Victoria Square.
The reserves used this building until DND decide to move them to Springhill, a town for which they had no history, except for the times they came to their aid. My father was a cook in the regiment and he ran a soup kitchen for the reserves during both the 56 explosion and the 58 Springhill mine disaster.
The building is used for the cadets and it houses the regimental museum of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders., which will be lost if this building goes. It is also a building that has a large usable space, one of the few such buildings in this town.
I do not know about you, but I think this has the smell of abandonment. What makes this even worse is that the deteriorating condition of this building is due solely to the neglect and shoddy repairs done over years by DND.
This government found $6 million to build an outdoor rink, used by the citizens of Ottawa for a few weeks, but have no money to remember the fallen. Do we really want to let DND walk away from their responsibility?
Walter Jones is a freelance writer living in Amherst. His column appears weekly in the Amherst News. He is also a member of Amherst Heritage Trust that is working to save the armoury building.