Saint John — It’s often said that opportunity makes a thief, and that appears to be the case with a famous Saint John landmark.
Last night, somewhere between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m., thieves made off with one of the city’s most iconic structures — the bandstand in King’s Square in uptown Saint John.
The King Edward VII Memorial Bandstand, with its copper roof and its elegant filigree metal framework, was constructed in 1908 as a gift to the city — donated by the City Coronet Band. It quickly became a favourite location for outdoor musical performances in Saint John’s city core.
In 2013, a refurbishment project was undertaken to update the bandstand, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor. The upgrades included installing new supports and flooring on the second level, restoring the roof, painting and sandblasting of the structure, upgrading the lighting and refurbishing the water fountain.
After the completion of the refurbishment, its restored copper fountainhead was stolen just days after the site was reopened. Following a heartfelt and exasperated plea from then-mayor Mel Norton, the fountainhead was found the next day in the Loyalist Burial Grounds.
Now, Saint John’s new mayor, Don Darling, is making a similar plea for the bandstand’s return.
“There’s always a chance that when you polish up a gem like the bandstand, someone is going to want it for themselves,” said Darling. “We aren’t sure if they intend to display it on their own property, or sell it as scrap metal. It might be melted down and turned into selfie sticks and light sabers for all we know. That would be a real tragedy.
“For now, we are asking the public to be on the lookout for it and let the police or the mayor’s office know right away if you locate it.”
Saint John citizens are devastated by the loss of the monument that exemplifies heritage conservation in the uptown. “I remember getting my first kiss at the bandstand from a high school sweetheart in 1941,” faintly smiled 93-year-old senior Marjorie MacDonald, her eyes welling up with tears. “I also let him get to second base and some other stuff, but I probably shouldn’t talk about that.”
Any information or tips regarding the missing bandstand can be emailed to the city at BringBackTheBandstand@saintjohn.ca.