When Dan Leonhardt joined a safety company contracted to work on the Coastal GasLink project this summer, he didn’t expect that merging his work and personal interests would result in honouring WWII soldier Cpl. Keith Warren Merrick, 76 years after the soldier’s death.
“When I first joined the project back in July, I came across Mt. Merrick and noticed it was one of the most prominent mountains around. On one of my days off, I decided it would be neat to summit, with the added benefit of area familiarization,” says Dan, whose safety skills as part of the project’s Emergency Response Team includes proficiency in high angle rope rescue along steep slopes.
Before embarking on his climb, Dan researched the history of the mountain. His efforts revealed that Mt. Merrick received its name from the Canadian government in 1961 to recognize Cpl. Keith Warren Merrick, who lived in the Pouce Coupe area, but was killed in battle as his regiment advanced towards German troops in Italy in May 1944.
In consultation with a Royal Canadian Legion contact, Dan commissioned a stainless steel and granite plaque, then embarked on a 7.5 hour, 14.5 KM round-trip hike this past September. At the peak of the mountain, he found a suitable location for the plaque and placed it as a memorial for the fallen Corporal.
“It’s hard to put into words how I felt when I placed it. It was a deep feeling and it was a simple moment of reflection, similar to Remembrance Day where you have a moment of silence,” recalls Dan, adding that the distant relatives of the soldier are aware and grateful for Dan’s efforts.
Cpl. Merrick’s legacy will also live on with the upcoming opening of the Mt. Merrick Lodge, a workforce accommodation site under development in Coastal GasLink’s Section 2. Designed to house up to 165 workers, the lodge is the result of a partnership between Black Diamond Cygnus and West Moberly First Nations.
As we all commemorate our fallen soldiers this Remembrance Day, Coastal GasLink remembers Cpl. Keith Warren Merrick.