Ned Bowes, the “Maître de Vitreux,” stood in the auditorium of Memorial Hall. “Let me welcome you to the light,” he said as seven curtains unveiled the restored stained glass windows.
After two years and over 2000 hours of labour, members of the community filled the MEM Hall auditorium to witness the restored windows for the first time.
Memorial Hall was built in 1923, dedicated to the 300 graduate and undergraduate UNB students who fought in the First World War.
“35 of them did not return and whose names are inscribed above this entrance,” said Bowes as he pointed to the front of the auditorium
The building has housed the departments of physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical engineering and physical education, until 1961 when it became the permanent Arts Centre at UNB
“It was suggested that this building would, all the more effectively, serve to honour the memory of the students in the past and that it would also serve to prepare students of the future,” said Bowes.
The seven windows were placed in the building’s auditorium between 1926 and 1943. Each one represents important figures in history, poetry, science, and the UNB community.
George MacLean, vice-president academic at UNB Fredericton, spoke at the event on behalf of the University; “These windows have made MEM hall so much more than a classroom.”
Over the years, the windows became tarnished by cement, dirt, and excessive exposure to sunlight. The glass itself began to crack due to its weight. Bowes explained that it took 200 hours to remove the cement off of one window alone.
Bowes spent between 8 to 10 hours a day on his feet restoring the stained glass windows, and he faced several difficulties throughout the process. Each window consists of nearly 500 pieces of glass. After being taken apart and restored, each piece had to be put back perfectly in place or the window wouldn’t fit in the frame.
Although it was a daunting task, Bowes says it was worth it. “It is something that I love. If you love something, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he said.
Bowes thanked the audience for joining them for the grand reveal and the crowd stood up one by one, giving him a standing ovation.