The Little Chicago/Royalties monument has been repaired over a year after it was damaged.

In July of 2022, three brass plaques were pried off of the monument, damaging the stonework in the process.

It was one of several sites in the Calgary area that saw the theft of plaques, including a Calgary cemetery that saw 300 plaques stolen in August of last year.

The monument commemorates a small oil boomtown and was established in 2004 by a committee of former residents of Little Chicago.

lcm monument damagedA look at the monument in its damaged state, shortly after the theft. Photo courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

The Museum of the Highwood has been acting as steward for the monument since 2008, and they've now fully restored it.

Museum director and curator Irene Kerr says it's thanks to contributions from a few community members.

"We were very lucky. After the monument was vandalized, a couple from Longview called us up who had just moved there. They were stonemasons so they came up and did a few repairs for us and got us through until we could replace the plaques. We had a couple of donors drop by the museum and ask how they could help. They donated the money to cover the cost of making the plaques. So, everything fell into place."

This time around, the plaques are made of a less coveted material.

"We found a different material that's not a valuable bronze or brass or anything like that. It's an outdoor signage material that we've used here in High River for our historic signs. We got a little bit inventive and worked with Foothills Signs here and got them a metallic finish. The signs are duplicated exactly as they were before. They're not as fancy, they don't have raised letters, but the information on them is the most important thing."

Kerr digitally designed the new plaques using reference images to precisely replicate the original plaques, save for one spelling error that's been corrected on the new one.

She's relieved that the monument is back in good shape and hopes the dedication from the community and museum volunteers goes to show how much this piece of history matters.

"I'm really hoping that people will think twice about how important these sites are and how we've dedicated ourselves to taking care of it in honour of those people who lived there. It's just senseless that people would want to damage or steal a plaque off a monument."

A Facebook post from the museum warns of an eerie fate for anyone who damages the monument in the future:

"These new plaques are NOT bronze or brass or gold. If you try to remove them, they will shatter into a thousand pieces and a giant poisonous spider will crawl out and latch on to your nose."