It is quite remarkable that in a relatively short time the Citizens Hall of Fame site in Assiniboine Park has evolved into a significant installation of public art.
Nine years ago, the Citizens Hall of Fame was relocated to its terrific setting in the Formal Garden of Assiniboine Park. The sculptures are ideally set amongst the park’s majestic elm trees.
“It is almost as if it was meant to be given how the likenesses of the inductees are so well complemented by the tree-lined park setting they are prominently displayed in,” Bill Burns, chair of the Citizens Hall of committee, said at the opening of the site in 1997.
At the induction ceremony held earlier this month, when Dr. Henry Friesen (contemporary category) and James Ashdown (historical category) became the program’s 32nd and 33rd inductees respectively, the Winnipeg Real Estate Board took the opportunity to showcase all of the inductee’s likenesses in Assiniboine Park. A well-orchestrated power point presentation started with the large carved granite sign proclaiming the program’s purpose to commemorate citizens who have made significant contributions to Winnipeg’s quality of life. From there, it followed in sequence all of the sculptures from Steve Juba, the first inductee in 1986, right up to Carl Ridd in 2004.
The likenesses of 2005 inductees Gabrielle Roy and Edward Lancaster Drewry are now being completed
and will be installed in the spring of 2007.
At this year’s induction ceremony, Madeleine Vrignon, the artist commissioned to sculpt Gabrielle Roy, did a public showing of the precast mould of Gabrielle Roy. This presentation allowed the guests to gain a better appreciation of the work that goes into a portraiture before it is cast at the foundry.
The commission likenesses of the
inductees is certainly a unique and
distinguishing features of the real
estate board’s Citizens Hall of Fame program. To date, there have been six local sculptors involved in the program: 1990 inductee Leo Mol, Eva Stubbs, Josef Randa, Helen Granger-Young, Madeliene Vrignon and Miguel
Eva Stubbs has the distinction of being the creator of the Citizens Hall of Fame bronze medallion which each inductee receives. It is an original piece of artwork and something worth cherishing.
To Eva Stubbs’ credit, she was instrumental in ensuring the sculptures were properly cleaned and waxed prior to their public viewing.
One thing that is evident is the public appreciation of the sculptures. Not surprisingly, many passers-by identify with the inductees and consider them as role models to be emulated.
If you do happen to go out to the site at the southeast entrance to Assiniboine Park off Corydon Avenue, you will notice Leo Mol’s sculpture is missing. It is for a good reason. Leo Mol intends to do his own self-portrait but, like the shoemaker, is too busy doing other work to complete his own. At this point, it is extremely unlikely Leo will complete his own sculpture so other options will be dealt with in due course.
Sculptors are already being asked to do the likenesses of the 2006 inductees. The completed sculptures will then securely rest on a granite pedestal with the appropriate marked plaque. They will be added to an impressive group of individuals who truly have made a difference in all of our lives.