Where will they install the statue of you?

VANCOUVER
I would want the statue of me to be installed on a rocky beach. Not here. This ocean doesn’t move me. Attach me to the rocks on the Canadian Atlantic.

Sculpt my statue to sit on a big rock facing the waves, with one foot propped on a rock below. Balanced on a knee, a coil-ring notebook. A pen behind my ear, with hair falling around that and over my face. My shoulders should be hunched forward, my back rounded by the awkward, bent angle. When beachcombers come across my statue, they will shake their heads — there’s nothing to see here — and leave me to my business.

The monkey on Emily Carr's shoulder outside the Empress in Victoria, B.C.
The monkey on Emily Carr’s shoulder outside the Empress in Victoria, B.C.
The statue of Emily Carr outside the Empress in Victoria, B.C.
The statue of Emily Carr outside the Empress in Victoria, B.C.

Cities tell their stories with statues. So much time and commitment goes into casting a character in steel or bronze, carving them into stone. You have to hold a special part of a city’s heart to earn yourself a statue.

Saskatoon has a marvelous statue of Wilfrid Laurier meeting a young John Diefenbaker on a street corner. Ottawa’s Terry Fox memorial makes me tear up every single time. I recently discovered Jean Drapeau in front of Montreal’s city hall.

In Victoria is it Emily Carr, lovingly represented with her monkey on her shoulder and a little dog at her heel.

Harry Winston Jerome sprinting through Stanley Park in Vancouver.
Harry Winston Jerome sprinting through Stanley Park in Vancouver.

And this Olympian in Vancouver, who I had never heard of: Harry Winston Jerome. I met him as I biked at dawn along a narrow path in Stanley Park. The sky was lightening but still navy and rich and Canada Place was just a row of shapes on the horizon, not the terrible white beast it is from my hotel downtown.

Harry looks as though he is about to take flight. He could be dancing, or jumping and there is something so very joyful in him. In the 1960s, the Olympic medalist was one of the fastest men on earth. He stayed on track despite career-threatening injuries and a media that refused to love him and when he could no longer compete, he kept a foot in, working for the sports ministry and developing a provincial program that would encourage youth to get and stay active.

His story ended when he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 1982. He was 42.

Windsor harbours a bounty of street art and sculpture

A museum of walls, and a museum without walls.

Windsor takes its art seriously and uniquely. It’s impossible to walk around downtown or along the riverside without one’s eye being caught by a mural, a sculpture, or memorial to someone who touched this city in some way.

Murals

Many buildings got a fresh coat of imagination in 2013 through a partnership with Windsor and Free 4 All Walls that gathered 30 local and international artists including Daniel Bombardier, who told the Windsor Star at the time, “I find blank spaces dead and boring. These murals show that the city is alive.”

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Sculptures

At the edge of downtown is a five-kilometre riverside walk I got to know well during my stays in Windsor. This is the museum without walls: 31 sculptures ranging from a giant hand to a crazily realistic elephant to awkward little penguins that Canada geese step gingerly around. There are dozens more sculptures around town, hidden in laneways and planted in the middle of parks. I photographed a few, but you can see them all (and better lit) by clicking here.

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Memorials

As if all that were not enough, there is more art to be had. Every green space and courtyard seems to boast a memorial to war veterans, a sculpture commemorating Windsor’s rich history or a monument urging peace and a brighter future.

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Windsor is known for its auto industry and whiskey and the Detroit skyline, but its deep connection with its artists cannot be ignored.