The Pictou County Military Museum is bringing home the Memorial Cross belonging to the family of Private Robert Joseph Melanson, after a rush to find the funds to secure the long lost piece of valour.
When the eBay auction that offered the medal ended last Tuesday evening Dave Thomson, the bidder on behalf of the museum, secured the cross for about $175 Canadian and an additional $15 express shipping from British Colombia. Thomson put in a bid in the last few seconds and secured the cross for the Military Museum in Westville.
“He (Thomson) sent me an email and then he called me,” confirmed David Avery of the Pictou County Military Museum. Avery added that there was nearly $100 in donations from the community and the Westville Legion has also agreed to help cover remaining costs that cannot be raised through donations.
“I hope people get behind David Avery and the Military Museum and the project and really support it,” said Thomson by phone from his home in St. George, Ont.
Avery also added that the family of Melanson came forward once they saw the information and news coverage about the cross coming back to Pictou County.
Michael Vienneau read about Melanson’s cross in The Advocate and said he was blown away to hear about his grandfather’s cross. Vienneau said he had goosebumps when he realized that the day he read about the cross — which was the day after the auction had been won — was exactly 40 years to the day when his grandmother, the owner of the cross, passed away.
“It’s a gift we didn’t expect,” said Vienneau. “It went on this big journey to come back to where it should be.”
He added that his family hadn’t spoken much about his grandfather while Vienneau was growing up but since the cross has been found they have begun to look more into their family history and learn about Melanson.
“It’s a really big thing to us,” he said. “It’s going to lead us to find out more about our family history.”
Vienneau also found out in the process of discovering more about his grandfather that he is, in fact, buried in the Holy Name Cemetery in Westville. The family was never aware that he was buried in Pictou County as Melanson was killed in action.
With none of the children of Melanson still living, Vienneau said that it was left to the grandchildren to decide what would become of the cross.
“The consensus of the grandchildren is that it will go to the Military Museum,” he said. “That way it will never end up on eBay again.”