It wasn’t a bird, nor a plane that Haliburton residents saw flying through the air May 22 – it was an old Second World War-era M4 ‘Easy Eight’ Sherman tank.

Around a dozen volunteers from the Haliburton Legion, Total Site Services, and Windy Ridge Homes assisted in moving the tank, which is to be restored over the summer.

Nick Bryant, a long-time member of the legion, said it’s been about 15 years since the vintage heavy-armoured vehicle last got an upgrade. He’s secured a Canadian War Memorials grant to have it sandblasted and repainted – work that needed to be done away from the busy intersection of Maple Avenue and Mountain Street.

Workers were busy most of the morning with the move. A crane was brought in from Peterborough Crane Rentals, with the vehicle hoisted onto a flatbed truck and transported to a shop in Lochlin, where much of the restoration will take place.

Pat Casey, Dysart et al councillor and owner of Total Site Services, said moving the tank took lots of planning. Initially, it was to be moved in late 2023, before winter, but that was pushed back once everyone realized how big a job it would be.

“It all worked out just the way we thought in the end – it was nice to be able to pull it off,” Casey said.

The tank weighs about 37 tons when fully loaded, less when not so. Bryant said, “it’s an icon of the town and of the legion.”

It arrived in Haliburton from Canadian Forces Base Borden in the early 1970s, long serving as a local memorial to Highlands’ veterans. A plaque installed on its side reads, “through the mud and the blood to the green fields beyond,” in reference to its use in multiple war efforts.

The M4 Sherman was constructed by Fisher Tank Company in the 1940s and used predominantly by the U.S. in the Second World War, and by Canadian troops in the Korean War. It was named after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, a celebrated American Civil War general.

According to online records, the Haliburton tank was constructed in 1945. Bryant said the restoration is a long time coming.

“It’s been three years getting this project off the ground. It’s been an interesting struggle – myself and other volunteers are doing a lot of the grunt work, but we have a company coming from Bancroft to do the sandblasting and paint it,” Bryant said, noting military members from CFB Borden are also involved.

The project is expected to wrap up in the fall, with Bryant hoping to have the tank back in front of the legion for this year’s Remembrance Day proceedings.

Casey said it will be nice to see the tank given a new lease on life. Speaking of his involvement, the local entrepreneur and politician said he likes to give back to important causes in the community.

“We donated a bunch of time and resources to the skatepark last year. I have a soft heart for the legion, for the veterans – my great grandad on both sides of my family were both in the Second World War,” Casey said. “I have a 60-year legion pin that my grandad passed down… this, I think, was a great project to help with.”