The first anniversary of the death of legendary Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart was marked by his hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario with an update on their ongoing plans to honor him.
The town sent over the following update: One year after Neil Peart's passing on Jan. 7, 2020, momentum continues to build in the establishment of a commemorative work of art that will honour the legendary Rush drummer from Port Dalhousie.
This past year, St. Catharines City Council, with the support of the community, voted to name the newly rebuilt pavilion at Lakeside Park after Neil Peart. The pavilion, now known as the Neil Peart Pavilion at Lakeside Park, honours Peart's connections to Lakeside Park - a place that inspired the lyrics to a famous Rush single of the same name.
Council also established the Neil Peart Commemorative Task Force this past year with the objective to commission a public work of art that will commemorate Neil Peart's life in music. The task force, chaired by Dave DeRocco, has been meeting since last July, reviewing options for the type and location of a memorial, which will also be located in Lakeside Park. The procurement process is in progress and a request for pre-qualifications will be issued within the next few weeks with the goal of selecting an artist and proposed design. The task force has also established a subcommittee to champion a full fundraising campaign, including an online donation portal, that is set to launch in February.
The City has had significant community interest in the memorial, with expressions of interest in supporting the project coming not just from St. Catharines, but from across the globe.
"The task force has overwhelmingly positive support from fans across the world on the concept of a memorial, which is indicative of the undying love and respect people have for Neil. Whether it's ideas from artists or offers from fans willing to donate to the project, there's no shortage of people wanting to contribute something to honour him," said DeRocco, who is also a member of the City's Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee.
That passionate outpouring of support, he says, is why the task force is taking such a methodical approach to this important memorial project.
"We have one shot to get it right, and our goal since the beginning has been to create a lasting memorial befitting of Neil's international impact, stature and influence," said DeRocco. "We know this will become a mecca for fans. We want to ensure the memorial is something everyone, including Neil, would be proud to see in Lakeside Park."
St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik said the outpouring of support following the death of Peart is proof of just how important this project is to not only St. Catharines, but the broader music community.
"We want to be able to acknowledge and commemorate an iconic individual who has done so much for music, not just here in Canada, but around the world," said Sendzik.
"The City of St. Catharines would like to thank the Neil Peart Commemorative Task Force for all of its efforts to date. I am looking forward to the day we can come together to celebrate the installation," said Sendzik. "Port Dalhousie is a place where Neil spent the formative years in his life, even working at Lakeside Park's former midway. He learned to play music here, launching his career as a writer and musician who is recognized as one of the best all-time drummers in history."
The community - both St. Catharines and Rush fans - can watch for updates on the launch of the memorial fundraising campaign in February at www.stcatharines.ca.