This picture shows John Charles Merry with his wife in 1949. Submitted

This picture shows John Charles Merry with his wife in 1949. Submitted

Saanich investigates vandalism to a dozen memorial benches

A Saanich woman does not understand why anybody would vandalize a dozen benches that memorialize her father and others.

“My reaction was anger and sadness,” said Kathleen Merry. “No idea why anyone would do something like this.”

She made these comments after she had learned that somebody had ripped the memorial plaque honouring her father John Charles Merry from one of the memorial benches in Gorge Waterway Park close to a public washroom near Admirals Road. The plaque contained biographical information about Merry, who lived from 1920 to 1996, and an inscription that reads ‘Remember me with smiles and laughter.’

Merry’s family had purchased the plaque in 1997 after coming across an advertisement from Saanich. “The family liked the idea of a place to walk to and sit rather than a grave,” said Kathleen Merry, adding that the cost of the plaque was about $1,000 with Saanich looking after the upkeep.

Saanich received the initial report about this incident March 28. “Saanich Parks staff went to assess the damage and discovered that a total of 12 benches were affected by this vandalism,” said Megan Catalano, a Saanich spokesperson. “Some minor repairs will need to be done, but there are no known serious health or safety concerns at this time,” she said.

She said Saanich staff will continue to work with donors to replace the stolen plaques. “Saanich Police have been notified and a file has been started to document any findings,” she said.

Merry said she is not aware of any witnesses or surveillance cameras, which might have captured, who committed the vandalism. But she has talked to at least one other member of an impacted family.

“He felt the same as I do,” said Merry.