The story behind the flagpole detouring walkers at Regatta Point

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A detours has been put in place around the Canadian Flagpole for safety reasons.

A WALKING detour is in place around Regatta Point so important work can be done on the 63-year-old Canadian Flagpole. 

A National Capital Authority spokeswoman says the detour is in place due to safety measures and will remain in place while the authority conducts final inspections on the flagpole with a view to felling it as soon as possible.

An exclusion zone is in place re-routing walkers who normally walk by the Canadian Flagpole on RG Menzies Walk around the lake and the public exhibition at Regatta Point is now closed.

Erected at Regatta Point on August 29, 1957, the 40.2 metre tall single green spar of Douglas Fir, weighing about 7 tonnes, arrived in Canberra after considerable technical difficulties had to be overcome for the pole to be brought safely across the Pacific Ocean from Canada.

Logged from a forest in British Columbia, and after being submerged in Sydney Harbour for several days for quarantine reasons, it was transported by train to Canberra taking up the length of three railway trucks, arriving on November 24.

Then, under the watchful eye of the CSIRO, the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau, and the Department of Works, the pole was trimmed to 39 metres, debarked and shaped. It was encased in felt and kept constantly damp by water sprays. Eventually it was transferred to a 42.7 metres polythene plastic film bath, where it lay for three weeks in a special mix of chemicals to ensure protection of the timber.

When it was finally ready to be transported from Canberra’s railway station to Regatta Point, the transfer was described as a “dramatic event”, with the trolley at the tail end of the truck veering from side-to-side and occasionally coming off the road.

A crane followed to lift the trolley back on the road.

Once the pole was at Regatta Point, the erection went smoothly, and the pole was set into a concrete pit three metres deep, leaving the remaining 36 metres unsupported above the ground.

Those working on the preparation and erection of the pole over the two years became so attached to it, they nicknamed it “Polly”.

The high commissioner for Canada T.W.L. MacDermot handed the pole over on November 20, 1957, to Australian Minister for Interior and Works Allen Fairhall.

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