10:30 p.m., Sept. 22)
New book tells history of Navan landmark
The 'Domes of Navan: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow'
is a new book that tells the story of the
navan Domes.. File photo
Sept. 20, 1984, more than 250,000 people gathered on Lebreton
Flats to see and hear Pope John Paul II deliver mass on
the final day of his 11 day cross-Canada tour.
mass was held under a steel structure of towers and canvas-covered
conical domes designed by Ottawa architect Pat Murray
and consrtructed by Raymond Steel. Forty-four days later,
three of the towers and four of the five domes were transported
by air and land to the Navan fairgrounds where they have
remained ever since.
new book compiled by Ross Bradley, Verna Cotton, Dorothy-Jane
Smith and Randall Ash tells the history of the domes from
the time they served as the Pope's alter on Lebreton Flats
to the present day at the fairgrounds where they were
recently used to host a delegation from Navan, Ireland.
between, they have watched over 28 Navan Fairs, a number
of street dance parties, a handful of community fun days
and even a wedding.
story of how the domes ended up in Navan begins several
days after the mass was held. Raymond Steel was responsible
for dismantling the stucture and getting rid of it. They
called Peter Clark, who at that time was the mayor of
The domes as they appeared on Lebreton Flats
for the papal mass in 1984. Fred Sherwin/Photo
by the opportunity, Clark met with councillors Ray Friel
and Gerry Lalonde to dicscuss what, if anything, they
could do with them. They were having a coffee in the Navan
Restaurant when Robin Briggs walked in.
was a member of the Cumberland Township Agriculture Society
which at that time organized the Navan Fair. The Society
had just found out they were about to lose $76,000 in
capital grants from a sunsetting government program for
fairground improvemens. The group had also been discussing
ways to reduce the costs of the Navan Fair beer tent.
would later say it was a coming together of fortuitous
town coucnil eventually agreed to have the steel structures
transported to Navan at a coat of $6,000 even though the
Agricultural Society wasn't sure exactly what they would
do with them. If worse came to worse, they would sell
them for scrap at an estimated value of $30,000.
Nov. 3, 1984 the first of the steel domes was transported
to Navan by Sikorsky helicopter. The helicopter traveled
down the Ottawa River before making a righthand turn up
Trim Road. The towers were transported by flat bed truck
with a police escort.
Pope John Paul II performs mass on Lebreton
Flats on the final day of his visit to Canada
in 1984. Fred Sherwin/Photo
structures remained on the fairgrounds during the winter
while local architect Harry Ala-Kantti drew up a layout.
The largest of the domes would cover an outdoor stage.
One dome would form the roof of the new kitchen and the
others would be used to cover a series of picnic tables.
domes were erected and the stage and kitchen constructed
in time for the 1985 Navan Fair at a cost of $240,000.
domes have been re-covered twice. The original canvass
only lasted four years despite being removed every fall
and placed back every spring. The canvass was replaced
by fibreglass panels in 1989. They lasted 21 years before
being replaced by steel as part of an extensive refurbishment
in 2010 in which the structure was dismantled, stripped
and repainted, and the footings repoured.
continued maintencance the Navan Domes should be around
for years to come so that future generations can enjoy
Domes of Navan: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" can be
purchase for $20 at J.T. Bradley's Country Convenience
Store in Navan.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business
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