‘I’d love to search out it’: Guelph lady looking for solutions after deceased buddy’s roadside memorial goes lacking
Stephanie Roberts has taken to social media after finding her friend’s memorial had disappeared from the side of the Hanlon Expressway near College Avenue.
It had been there for nearly 15 years since Anne Marie Graham was killed in a head-on collision with an impaired driver just minutes from home on Nov. 8, 2007.
“Everyone called her Anna,” said Roberts. She explained that the missing memorial was shaped like theatre masks to honour Graham’s love for and involvement in the theatre.
“She was a graduate of the theatre program at the university, but also highly involved with the Guelph Little Theatre, the River Run Centre and even Hillside Festival,” Roberts said. She was also a graduate of Centennial C.V.I., not far from her Hanlon memorial.
Roberts and Graham became fast friends when they worked together at the Stone Road PetSmart location in their twenties, while still attending university, and remained close for more than 10 years before Graham died. Roberts, who is now a veterinary technician said Graham also shared her love for animals, and when they lived together for a while, their house was full of pets.
“It’s been a long time, but the feelings are still there. Especially now that the marker is gone, it brings up a lot of feelings,” she said. “When you’re caring for someone who’s gone already, everything you do is with intention, right? So, it cuts deep when stuff like this happens, you know, you really feel it hard.”
Roberts explained that Anna’s ashes, along with the ashes of her beloved dog, were scattered in Scotland by her fiancée, so this memorial was the place she went to pay her respects and to remember her friend.
“It was her dream to go to Scotland,” she said, and that the couple planned to go there for their honeymoon after they were married the following year.
Roberts also shared that Anna’s favourite colour was orange. “In the fall, usually around the anniversary of the accident, myself and another friend go and put orange tulip bulbs in the ground around it, so in May, when her birthday was, the orange tulips will come up. We’re hoping the more tulips we put in, the more of a sea of orange for people will see when they drive by. I’ll put even more tulips in now.”
Roberts said the memorial was a fixture in the city that people recognized and loved, and so many knew what it symbolized. When she realized it was gone, she searched the whole area and could not even find the metal stake that was hammered into the ground.
The Ministry of Transportation was contacted by the Guelph Mercury Tribune to see if the memorial was removed and a representative said they are looking into it to see what information they can find.
“I’d love to find it,” Roberts said. She wonders if maybe the memorial was taken down for road work, or even a prank. Some have speculated on her Facebook posts that it could have been vandals or someone looking to sell the metal as scrap.
“I don’t want to think that’s what happened to it,” she said. “I’d like to give human beings a chance. I think maybe it could be a misunderstanding of some sort.”
If the memorial does not reappear, or no one is contacted about it, family and friends have suggested making another, but Roberts said, “just give me a little time first.”
She also wanted to take the opportunity to remind people of the devastating outcomes of impaired driving, and all the people impacted by it.
“If you’re drinking, distracted or not in your right mind, then don’t get in your vehicle and drive,” Roberts said.