George Sutherland Park unveiled by City of Prince Albert

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Members of George Sutherland’s family unveiled the George Sutherland Park sign on Agnew Street on Saturday afternoon.

The City of Prince Albert began the first of what will be several ceremonies as they being the final stage of a plan to name city parks after local veterans.

The park on Agnew Street in Crescent Heights was the first to receive its new name. It will now be officially called George Sutherland Park after George Sutherland, a Prince Albert veteran who joined the Canadian Army in 1941.

Sutherland’s family travelled from around the country to be at the unveiling. Rick Sutherland, the oldest son, travelled from British Columbia and found the whole experience unexpected.

“It’s pretty impressive to me,” Rick said. “(It’s) not something I grew up expecting, I will tell you, and it’s a real honour. I always thought of him (George) as a pretty good guy.

“It is definitely something I would never have expected and I know he wouldn’t have either, but I imagine he would be at least as proud of it as I am. It’s a pretty big deal to us obviously,” Rick added.

The unveiling served as a family reunion for the Sutherland family. The family came from British Columbia, Saskatchewan and elsewhere for the unveiling. Rick retired to British Columbia and brother Roland and sister Lynelle Walters also came from British Columbia.

“That’s kind of how it works out, I mean we are so far apart we have a hard time getting together so something like this is great for all of us,” Rick said.

“That is kind of a real big deal for us because it’s another excuse to get together. It just means that much more and then the excuse to get together has got to be as good as it gets too.”

Rick had read about the other parks named after veterans, including Tom Settee and Ed Laird. He was surprised that the George Sutherland Park was the first park unveiled.

The family also knows other veterans who have parks named after them, which makes it even more special.

“I knew some of the other veterans too just growing up,” Rick said. “Tom Settee was a good friend of my dad’s and to see one named after him too is pretty good for us.

“Tom Settee was our barber when we were kids. So, every second Saturday Tom Settee would cut our hair,” Roland added.

Emcee and Ward 5 Counc. Dennis Ogrodnick gave a brief history of Sutherland’s life that he researched. When family was invited to speak youngest daughter, Walters gave another historical overview of Sutherland’s life.

Because the park is named after a veteran, there was a Colour in attendence. Legion member

Marie Mathers also did a prayer and a reading of For the Fallen to conclude the ceremony.

Sutherland was born in 1917 and passed away in 1980. He was employed by the Burns meat processing plant.

Sutherland was a member of both the Royal Canadian Legion and ANAVETS. He enlisted with Regina Rifles regiment in 1941 and was also part of the Devil’s Brigade, serving in Norway and France as part of Operation Dragoon.

After the war ended, he returned to his job at the Burns plant and met his wife Colleen. Sutherland’s family had 13 children, 34 great grandchildren and many great great grandchildren. In his remarks, Ogrodnick called Sutherland a hero who helped to end the Second World War.

After family members unveiled the monument Mayor Greg Dionne brought remarks on behalf of the city of Prince Albert. Ogrodnick, Councillor Dawn Kilmer and Dionne placed a Legion memento by the new sign.

Ogrodnick also announced that a Friends of George Sutherland Park would form to look into items like landscaping.

On behalf of the family, Rick thanked the City of Prince Albert.

“I would like to say thank you to the City of Prince Albert and Dennis for pushing this thing through and for the other ones too,” he said.