Sgt. Harnett Memorial Park dedicated at Summer’s End Festival

Sgt. Harnett Memorial Park dedicated at Summer’s End Festival
HAGERSVILLE—A portrait of Sgt. Andrew Harnett is flanked by members of the police auxiliary and the Harnett family. Pictured (l-r): Aux. Constable Gurpreet Singh, Aux. Constable Alex Blakeney, Aux. Constable Tom Samac, Aux. Sgt. Phil Toffolo, Aux. Staff Sgt. Chris Dennis, Jason Harnett, Valerie Harnett, Chris Harnett, and Hagersville Lion Albert Ribbink.

By Sheila Phibbs

The Haldimand Press

HAGERSVILLE—A special ceremony was held before a large crowd during the Summer’s End Festival on September 3, 2022 to officially dedicate the park as the newly named Sgt. Andrew Harnett Memorial Park. 

Rob Philips of the Hagersville Chamber of Commerce presided over the ceremony, telling the audience that Sgt. Harnett “led a life of service, dedication, and principle.” He spoke of Harnett’s military service at the Edmonton Garrison Base, where he was a Military Police Officer for three years prior to 12 years with the Calgary Police Service. 

While in Calgary, Philips noted that Sgt. Harnett earned the respect of those who knew him. He added, “Sgt. Harnett exemplified the seven core values of the Calgary Police Service: honesty, integrity, respect, fairness, compassion, and courage.”

Philips explained that the park now features four points of memorial dedication: the new entrance sign; a story board which was sponsored by the Haldimand Norfolk Crime Stoppers; a new bench located by the cenotaph; and a red oak tree which was planted by the Hagersville Lions. 

Hagersville Lion Albert Ribbink shared that he knew Andrew Harnett well as he taught at Hagersville Secondary School (HSS) with both his parents. He said the Lions chose to plant the red oak because “it will stand there for at least 100 years as a living memory of Andrew Harnett.” 

HAGERSVILLE—Several police and military officers attended the Summer’s End Festival for the dedication of the Sgt. Andrew Harnett Memorial Park. Pictured (l-r) at the memorial storyboard are: Bryan Armstrong, OPP; Constable Mike Sposato, Canadian Pacific Police; Chief Rob Davis, Brantford Police Service; Mike White, Sgt. at Arms, Six Nations Veterans Association; and Constable Marwood White, Six Nations Police.
—Haldimand Press photos by Sheila Phibbs.

Ken Schaus of the Haldimand Norfolk Crime Stoppers recognized Harnett for his involvement with the HSS Crimestoppers and said it was an honour to have him as part of the Crime Stopper family. Former HSS teacher and student Crime Stoppers advisor Janice Schweder shared this sentiment as she recalled Harnett’s loyalty and responsibility, always the first to volunteer. She told the audience, “Andrew thrived on HSS Crime Stoppers because of his motivation to become a police officer.”

Harnett’s brothers, Jason and Chris, spoke on behalf of the family. Looking out at the gathering Jason said, “Andrew had the power of bringing people together and today is another demonstration of that…. This park will be in great hands; Andrew will be keeping an eye on things.” 

Reflecting on the ongoing support of the community, Chris said, “Andrew would be honoured, humbled, and proud. We feel your love.”

Appreciation was extended to the Summer’s End organizers for allowing the dedication of the Sgt. Andrew Harnett Memorial Park to take place during the festival. 

Philips explained that Harnett’s mother, Valerie, believed that Summer’s End is a happy time and “we need happiness at his dedication.” 

That happiness could be seen, heard, and felt throughout the park as families and friends enjoyed one of the last days of summer holidays. This celebration of community highlighted the words of Schweder, who summed up her memories of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, stating, “The echoes of his spirit are here to remind future generations to follow your heart and your dreams…. Great people can come from small places.”