When Winnipeg Ballet artistic director Andre Lewis wrote an article for a local newspaper about his favourite place in the city, he selected Assiniboine Park.
In the July 24, 2011, Free Press article, Lewis wrote that the location in the “great park” that especially attracts him is the Citizens Hall of Fame in the Formal Garden, where the statue of former RWB artistic director, Arnold Spohr, “stands proud amongst the many luminaries of the city.”
“I think that comment really solidi-
fies our position in the city,” Harry DeLeeuw, a past-president of Win-
nipegREALTORS® who chaired the committee that established the Citizens Hall of Fame in 1986, told the WREN last Tuesday. “It has been totally accepted now. It’s one of the highlights of the city.”
There have been 38 outstanding
individuals inducted into the WinnipegREALTORS®-established Citizens Hall of Fame since it was conceived of 25 years ago, including former Mayor Steve Juba, the very first inductee, and this year’s inductee, Harold Buchwald, a supporter of arts and culture in the city, who passed away in 2008.
When Juba was inducted, DeLeeuw explained at the 1986 reception that the hall of fame was born out of a desire for a central place in the city to be a permanent and public record of the achievements of Winnipeggers who contributed to the city’s quality of life.
The location, which Lewis calls his favourite in the park, became a reality after many years of other failed sites, including The Forks, which proved to be too prone to flooding and vandalism.
Rick Preston, the present chair of the committee overseeing the hall of fame, said another inductee is now
being sought to join Spohr and the
37 others as honoured Winnipeg-
Preston said the deadline for 2012 nominations has been changed to
November 30 this year. Previously, the nomination and selection process was held in the spring.
Preston said the change allows for the finished sculpture of the 2012 inductee to be unveiled at the late-summer ceremony and afterward added to the 38 sculptures now lining the Walk of Fame in the Formal Garden.
This year was the first occasion that the unveiling of the bronze sculpture and inductee occurred in conjunction with the special annual ceremony, which was held on September 23 at Terrace Fifty-Five in Assiniboine Park. During the ceremony, Buchwald’s wife, Dee, was presented with a bronze medallion by local artist Eva Stubbs. The bronze medallion by Stubbs is given to each individual inducted or to their families in the case of a posthumous selection.
The next day, Buchwald’s sculpture, by local artist Madeleine Vrignon, was placed on its pedestal along the Walk of Fame.
All the likenesses of the inductees are cast in bronze by local artists.
“I look forward to receiving nominations this year that put forward Winnipeggers, past and present, who have made significant contributions to Winnipeg's quality of life,” said Preston.
While it is now a coveted award with a permanent and highly-visible site in the Formal Garden, DeLeeuw said the hall of fame in its first years of existence “faced some tough times.”
Following the ceremony for Juba in 1986, which he attended and was witnessed by many of Manitoba’s top politicians and community leaders, the committee was hard pressed at times to find people willing to be inducted into the hall of fame.
But DeLeeuw said he knew the hall of fame would eventually become a fixture in the city, as there was nothing then around to honour outstanding Winnipeggers, and it was also a unique program in Canada.
“We were refused on some occasions, as people said they wanted to wait until it was an accepted project,” DeLeeuw added. “It was a work in progress, but it prevailed, thanks to the hard work of individuals such as Bill Burns who took over from me as the chair. He was liked and respected, and people came forward because of him.”
With its growing popularity, there is now no difficulty finding individuals for induction, which included the courageous Terry Fox, of Marathon of Hope fame, who grew up in Transcona, and tragically died on June 28, 1981, while half way through his run across Canada. Fox’s parents, Betty and Rolly, attended 2010’s special ceremony and expressed their pride that their son was selected for the hall of fame.
Buchwald, last year’s inductee, received 13 separate nominations, and over the years, Fox received numerous nominations.
The full list and biographies of the 38 inductees is available at www.winnipegfame.ca
A new feature is that QR codes on the inductees’ pedestals in Assiniboine Park can be scanned, providing a link to the hall of fame website and more information on each individual being honoured.
Preston said the public is a vital contributor to the selection process and he is encouraging Winnipeggers to send in their nominations for 2012 by visiting the website www.winnipegfame.ca or by picking up a nomination form at the WinnipegREALTORS® office building at 1240 Portage Ave.