Fern Blodgett was raised in Cobourg and always dreamt of going to sea. Early in World War 2, she decided to train to be a Radio Operator but the Canadian Navy and merchant navy would not hire a woman. Not to be dissuaded, Fern found a Norwegian ship who would and did. In July 23, 2018, Leona Woods presented to Council her idea of remembering Fern’s heroism and pioneering of women’s roles, by commissioning a statue to be put in Victoria Park. Today that statue was unveiled before a large crowd of “dignitaries”. Represented were the Canadian Navy, the Norwegian Ambassador to Canada, donors. and the committee who helped Leona reach her goal. The day was chosen because 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic and October is Women’s History Month in Canada. And the weather was kind – a perfect autumn day – warm but windy.
After a year of multiple crossings of the Atlantic in the M/S Mosdale, when it looked like they might not make it through the war, she married Captain Sunde. Against all odds, they did make it through the war and settled in Norway where she died in 1991 at the age of 73.
There was a limit to the crowd size with a fence to control that although there were people on the beach outside the fence who were also watching. People inside the fence were generally masked and kept their social distance. The Coast Guard showed their interest; their vessel was stationed just offshore for most of the ceremony.
The story of Fern has been told in previous Posts – see the links below – but Graham Beer has made a professional Video which does a great job of explaining Fern’s story (see below).
Graham has his own news media site here. Graham was also able to solve a problem: Fern’s children and others in Norway wanted to come to the unveiling but Covid-19 travel restrictions made that impossible. However, Graham has the equipment and expertise so was able to stream the event for the world to see. A video of the full event is now available on You-Tube – see below.
The statue is in Victoria Park at the East end near the beach – it’s worth a look.
The event had a large number of speakers but if you don’t have time for the full 100 minutes, I made a 7:30 minute summary video with only some speakers and only excerpts of their speeches. There are also some photos below the videos.
Fern’s Story – by Graham Beer (7:38)
Professional Video of full unveiling event – by Graham Beer – 1:41:50
Photos of the event.
- Groundbreaking for statue – 7 July 2020 – includes life story, cost and donor information
- Fern’s Life Story – download one page pdf
- Presentation to Council 26 November 2019 – Power Point presentation, pdf format.
- Sifton-Cook special page
- Statue of Wartime Female Sparks Planned – 24 July 2018 – Cobourg Blog Article; includes photo of original model of statue. The full size statue looks better – see lead photo.
- Presentation to Council – 24 July 2018 – Text of request to Council