When he was a child, Curtis McCormick spent countless hours at Springhill’s Lions Park pretending he and his brother, Connor, were pirates and the playground equipment there was their pirate ship.
Curtis lost his battle with cancer in April 2021 at age 21. He is being memorialized in a new shelter that was built with the assistance of the carpentry class at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Cumberland campus.
The shelter was unveiled recently during a ceremony at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill.
“Both boys were fascinated by pirates,” Curtis’ mother, Linda McCormick, said following the unveiling. “It was back during their Pirates of the Caribbean phase. When the pirate theme was suggested I knew it was something Curtis would love. There are so many happy memories in the park. The playground was so important to our family and having a place with shade and where families can picnic would really help. I really hope it provides a lot of good memories for people.”
Since he died two years ago, Curtis’ family has worked hard to continue his legacy. His mother said his friends and his community meant so much to Curtis when he was living. It only made sense to continue his legacy by doing things to make the community a better place.
“When he was 21, we knew Curtis was not going to beat cancer it became very important to me that he be remembered in some way in the town where he grew up,” she said. “After lots of ideas and discussion, we came up with the idea of the picnic shelter. We want other young families from Springhill to be able to enjoy picnics here together.”
In Christmas of 2021, Linda and a group of volunteers created the Christmas Wishes campaign to make sure adults in the community had a gift on Christmas morning, while the Food for Thought campaign was created to help feed students at Springhill’s schools. The family also launched a major fundraising campaign in support of the new Ronald McDonald House in Halifax. She credits her husband, Craig, for the work he did in coordinating the project.
“He organized and coordinated everything,” she said. “It was long and difficult and I’m so pleased with the result. There were a lot of steps and a lot of communicating with various people.”
Baxter Engineering donated its services while Ray McCormick & Sons built the foundation and Home Hardware in Springhill donated a lot of supplies. She is very thankful to NSCC for its work. Curtis was in his first year of the carpentry program at NSCC in Pictou County when he fell ill. A year later, in the fall of 2020, he restarted the carpentry program at the Cumberland campus but wasn’t able to complete the first year.
“It really is a testament to NSCC and its students,” she said. “It’s so meaningful to have the shelter built by the carpentry students in Springhill. Even though our boys weren’t born here, Curtis and Connor were raised in Springhill. I used to bring them to the park and they loved it.”
NSCC Cumberland principal Don McCormick said it wasn’t a tough decision for the college to participate in the project.
“We were delighted to be part of this project and working work with Curtis’ mother and father in order to make this a reality so his legacy can live on,” he said.
He credited instructors Tyler Rushton and Gordon Parlee and the carpentry students for focusing their energies on building the shelter that will serve the community for many years.
“Community is in our name, we are the Nova Scotia Community College and if there’s one thing we hope separates us from other post-secondary institutions is we work with community,” the principal said. “The more we can work with the community and have our students understand the evolving social fabric and how important that is the better off we all are.”
Municipality of Cumberland Mayor Murray Scott said the McCormick family has done so much for Springhill. He said the shelter will be a lasting memorial to a young man who was loved and respected by many people despite his young age.
“Curtis was so respected by so many people and what always struck me was how he interacted with others,” the mayor said. “It was really amazing the way he faced the challenge of the illness he had. He faced it with such strength and courage. He was taken away too young in life and we’re so thankful as a municipality that you are sharing his memory and this will live on forever in our community. He meant so much to all of us.”