Forgotten Westmount cannons sit in storage for years

WESTMOUNT – Sitting in a dusty corner of a Public Works building in Westmount is a pair of bronze cannons dating back to 1810.

They have a storied history, with some people questioning whether they were used in the Napoleaonic wars.

They’ve called Westmount home since Queen Victoria’s Jubliee in 1897.

But for the last decade, the 200-year-old cannons have been out of sight and in storage in a building off Bethune Street, needing more than $80,000 worth of repairs.

Westmount’s mayor Peter Trent said the city has focused on other problems.

“Let’s face it, they aren’t top priority,” Trent said.

“We have to worry about fixing our streets and infrastructure before worrying about 200-year-old cannons.”

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With Westmount boasting budget surpluses, though, some councillors and citizens believe it’s time they’re restored.

Former Westmount city councillor George Bowser worked on the file a decade ago.

Now retired, he said the cannons have been out of sight for too long and it’s time to move forward with the project.

“I think it’s a shame they aren’t in a place where people can see them,” Bowser told Global News.

“Could they be in a visible spot like the cenotaph? They belong to the city.”

But first, the city needs to figure out where to put the cannons.

For decades, they were fixtures in Westmount park, but the mayor is concerned the cannons could be stolen.

“They were stolen 30 years ago, so we know it can be done and now the price of bronze has increased,” Trent said.

“You have to understand the cannons are worth $200,000 to 300,000, so we don’t want to stick them out there in plain view.”

The wooden and steel carriage and wheels holding up the cannons deteriorated over the years, and a decade ago they could no longer support the cannons.

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“They were rotting in the park,” said Westmount city councillor Patrick Martin.

“The carriage is wood and so are the wheels and with the elements over time they were rotted out and had to be replaced.”

Last year, the city finally replaced the wheels – for almost $20,000.

Finding the right person for the specialized task wasn’t easy.

“We had the wheels redone by a master cooper down in Virginia. It’s very hard to find people who can do that,” said Martin.

Rebuilding the carriage isn’t as complicated, but it would cost roughly $60,000.

Martin said the cannons have sat in storage too long.

“I’m asking about them. We have to get it done,” he told Global News.


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