Hundreds of commemorative bricks near the entrance of the Peace Arch Hospital have been destroyed during renovations, but they will be replaced after the meeting area receives a “facelift.”
Approximately 1,200 bricks have lined McCracken Courtyard at the front entrance of the hospital for 20 years.
“The bricks have started to deteriorate and are at the end of their lifespan,” Peace Arch Hospital Foundation executive director Stephanie Beck said in a news release last Wednesday announcing the renovation.
“We have asked current brick owners to let us know if they would like their name to be carried over into the new program… If anyone has not received a letter from us, please contact the foundation. As most of the records were 20 years old, it’s likely that some addresses have changed or we didn’t have all of the contact information to begin with.”
The names on the bricks – purchased by residents, businesses and families for $1,000 each to remember a loved one – will be grandfathered into a new design.
PAHF officials have yet to decide the appearance of the new memorial but said it will be located near the park fountain.
Beck said foundation staff tried to send a letter last month to everyone who had purchased a brick, but unfortunately some have since moved or passed away.
Surrey resident Carolyn Swayze contacted Peace Arch News last Wednesday, saying she did not receive notification and only found out when visiting a relative in hospital that day.
She moved into a new home five years ago.
“I was a bit dismayed to find the memorial in a state of deconstruction, with many of the plaques, including ours, gone,” she said, noting Dr. Pam Lockhart had purchased a memorial brick for her mother Norma Swayze after she died in 1994.
Swayze told PAN she was “dumbfounded” to receive an emailed response from the foundation saying: “We were unable to return the brick to you as they completely crumbled upon removal. I know you mentioned that even if it was broken, that you would still like it to be returned, but all of the removed bricks were in small chunks and names were not legible.”
Swayze said she had gone to the construction site to look for her mother’s plaque, and examined a “few dozen” intact and legible bricks. She contacted the foundation office and asked if staff could look for her mother’s brick. The following day, her son visited a relative in the hospital and spoke to the foreman about their request.
“When he returned from his visit, the foreman gave him the plaque,” she said. “It is a bit damaged on the corners, but it reads ‘Norma Swayze Remembered.’”
The original brick read: “Norma Swayze Remembered With Love.”
Beck told PAN she called Swayze and that PAHF had a “happy conclusion to her concern.”
“Most of them were damaged. Most of them were crushed and in pieces. It was just fortunate that hers wasn’t. Well, hers was damaged, there was a chunk missing. We got what we could for her, but the other bricks, as you can see, have all been removed. We weren’t able to save them.”
Beck said that purchasers who did not receive a letter from the foundation should call 604-535-4520 this month.
“We will make sure that they get grandfathered in.”
The renovations and installation of the new donor-recognition panels is expected to be complete by the end of August, with the redesigned courtyard to include public art and new benches.
“We’re really excited with the look of the donor-recognition program,” Beck said in the release. “It’s fresh, colourful and modern and will look beautiful in the updated courtyard.”