New park honours Galt airman killed in 1944

Waterloo Region Record, Ont. Canada
May 7, 2012 Monday
First Edition

New park honours Galt airman killed in 1944

by Kevin Swayze

Irene Peters smiles as she looks around the busy little city park at
the south city limits.

Mothers are pushing babies in strollers. Kids are giggling on the swings.

Behind her, a sign has just arrived bearing the name of her brother,
who died in a Lancaster bomber over Germany in 1944 during the Second
World War. Paul Peters Park is a reality.

“Paul would have loved the idea,” Irene said, as workers unwrapped the
sign with his photo on it. “He wasn’t a mournful kind of fellow. He
would have loved to see all the kids playing in a park in his memory.”

Today at 2 p.m., family, friends and park neighbours are invited to
gather at 255 McNichol Dr. for a dedication ceremony.
“It will be a celebration,” Irene said.

Afterwards at City Hall, a small private reception is planned for
family, close friends and politicians.

The city takes applications to name city parks after local residents.

Sunday, for example, local sports organizer John Corbett was asked to
throw the first pitch at the first game of the first season at the new
baseball field bearing his name. Corbett Field is a regulation Peewee
Ball Diamond, for children 12 and younger. It’s in
Stirling Macgregor Park, in the area of St. Andrews Street and Grand
Ridge Drive.

At first, Irene wanted Paul’s name on a street sign. About 130 of the
city’s 1,100 streets have blood-red memorial poppies beside veteran’s
names on signs. The veterans’ memorial policy was championed 15 years
ago by the late Coun. Bill Struck, a Canadian airman in the Second
World War.

Trouble was, the name Peters was already used. Instead, Irene asked
for a park to carry her brother’s name.

The park is on about a hectare of land given to the city as part of
subdivision development south of Myers Road.

It cost about $50,000 to outfit it with playground equipment, trails
and a few benches, said Susan Reise, city landscape architect.
Irene talks of how her parents, Abraham and Lucy Bedrossian met and
married in Armenia. They brought their family to Canada in the 1930s,
in the middle of the Great Depression, to make a better life for their
children.

“When dad came to Canada, he found it difficult with that name. He had
it translated to Peters,” she said.

Irene was the youngest in the family. Oldest was Margaret, then Paul.
Then came McKay – but everyone called him “Mushy,” Irene said. They
grew up in a house on Glenmorris Street, attended St. Andrew’s public
and Galt Collegiate schools.
Irene was a child when her father died, just before the war started in 1939.

“I knew Paul better than I knew my dad,” she said.

“He loved anything that was fiery and dangerous . . . that’s why he
was in bombers,” she said. “He loved rough cars and motorcycles. He
bought one when he went over . . . that’s what he wanted desperately.”

Paul expected to be called up to the army when he turned 18, so he
enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force first, in 1942, lying about
his real age: 17.

A gunner in a Lancaster bomber, his plane was shot down Aug. 26, 1944.
He’s buried in a British military cemetery in Germany.
Irene remembers how Paul would send letters home to Margaret in
English. When Margaret translated and read them aloud, Irene listened
in.

Now, all Irene’s siblings are gone. Only memories remain.

“I’m the last. That’s why I’m doing this,” Irene said. “I just wanted
Paul’s name remembered and now I’ve got the park.”

From: Baghdasarian

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