Winnipeg comes alive in June with many events, including our Manitoba Marathon this Sunday. There is much to do and celebrate at this time of year.
And there is also Assinboine Park, which is going through its very own transformation to modernize and attract thousands of Winnipeggers and tourists alike to its new venues.
Have you checked out the new nature playground or the Australian walkabout exhibit at the zoo?
While at the zoo you also need to see Hudson the polar bear and the black-footed African penguins. And the Assiniboine Park Conservancy is forging ahead with its ambitious Imagine a Place fund-raising campaign, which is part of a major $200-million redevelopment of the entire park.
One thing that cannot be lost in all the excitement around the new campaign is the existing attractions — the Pavilion Gallery, the Lyric Theatre, the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and the English Gardens come to mind. Let's not forget all the passive recreational space for people to relax and enjoy the pleasant weather at this time of year.
A unique and significant art installation in the southeast corner of Assiniboine Park across from the Formal Gardens is the WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame. It now boasts 39 local artist portraitures of outstanding Winnipeg citizens who have been instrumental in contributing to the development of Winnipeg and its quality of life. The individuals honoured come from all walks of life.
Leo Mol, who sculpted a number of these portraitures, is an inductee. And speaking of the Manitoba Marathon, can you imagine running a marathon a day? That’s what 2011 inductee Terry Fox did until he was sidelined by a recurrance of cancer that soon afterward claimecd his life. Young local sculptor Erin Brown has done a terrific representation of him, including subtle lettering on his t-shirt spelling marathon.
Sculpted by Leo Mol, the program’s first inductee on 1986 is former mayor Stephen Juba. The sculptor is impressive in scale and bears the city's coat of arms.
Pulitizer Prize-winning novelist Carol Shields has a replica of her Order of Canada medal proudly displayed on the sculpture of her.
All inductee plaques affixed on the granite pedestals have a bronze QR code, which allows anyone with a smart phone or tablet to go directly to the dedicated web page at winnipegfame.ca to learn more about the inductees. There are also links to the areas inductees were directly involved in or to organizations dedicated to their exploits. For example, Sir William Stephenson, the extraordinary Second World War spy master and 2012 inductee, is linked to the Intrepid Society.
An ongoing effort by WinnipegREALTORS® is to obtain proper wayfaring signage for the Citizens Hall of Fame site at Assiniboine Park.
“We have been in talks with Assiniboine Park Conservancy senior management to urge them to include our outstanding and unique installation in Assiniboine Park as an attraction they should want to promote and direct visitors to as part of their ongoing communications,” said Rick Preston, chair of the Citizens Hall of Fame program. “We would support this financially and it would enhance a visitor’s experience to Assiniboine Park.”
Whether a local citizen or tourist, who would not be interested to know about some of the exceptional citizens Winnipeg has been truly blessed with over the years? While they are not all household names, the inductees were all committed to making Winnipeg a better place community.
Next time you are at Assiniboine Park, be sure to check out the Citizens Hall of Fame at the southeast corner of the Formal Garden off Corydon Avenue.