Building a rock wall in the dead of winter with just a strong back and bare hands would test the mettle of any modern mason.
Two of the many stonemasons who did just that were in attendance at the Rock Wall Project Entusiastico Society‘s bronze plaque dedication ceremony in Gyro Park on Sunday.
Both Guglielmo Di Domenico and Luigi Bedin were front row centre for the ceremony honouring the work they did over 50 years ago.
Bedin says he had no idea he would one day be honoured for his handiwork while he was building the walls.
“It feels really good,” he said after the ceremony. “I would never have thought that it would go to this extent, with the plaques and everything, while we were working.”
One thing Bedin remembers about his time as a stonemason in Trail was working in below freezing temperatures.
“It was a lot of hard work,” he said. “They wanted to do (all the stone work) in the winter. In the winter, they would get the grants from the government and they tried to take advantage of that. It wasn’t fun at all. It was wet and miserable.”
Di Domenico, 97, and said he loved seeing the crowd of around 60 people gathered at Gyro Park to honour his and his brother Carlo’s work.
“It’s nice,” he said. “There are lots of people and it is really nice. I built the rock walls all over the place.
“On behalf of my brother Carlo and all the stonemasons and helpers, I want to thank Eileen and the Rock Wall Committee for the job they did to honour the work that we did. We appreciate everything – the book, the plaques with our names, the celebration and the beautiful cake. Thank you to the all the people of Trail for appreciating the work we did.”
Trail Councillor Kevin Jolly represented the city at the ceremony, and even has a personal connection to stonemasonry.
“My younger brother is in his early thirties and is a stonemason,” Jolly told the crowd.
“He already has the physical issues that come along with the job – the hands, the back, the shoulders – and he is still quite a young man, but he loves the work he does. He loves to create and he loves to build and we can only imagine that the people who built this city and these rock walls, felt the same way.
“It is really great that this tradition is being carried on through to this day. You just have to drive around Trail, as a spectator or a visitor, and see the impact (the stonemasons’) lives had on our community and it is a lasting impact. We certainly respect and honour that.”
The Rock Wall Project Entusiastico Society has erected plaques on 10 rock walls around Trail, all on walking routes set out by the society.
Eileen Pedersen from the society got a bit emotional while addressing the crowd at the ceremony, talking about the hard working conditions the stonemasons had to endure to end up with such a beautiful finished product.
“The plaques honour the back-breaking work and the legacy we inherited from the stonemasons,” she said. “It is so great to have so many people here to honour the stonemasons, the work they did, and the people who helped them.”
For a map of the rock wall walking routes with the plaques, visit www.trail.ca.