Photo: Jim McGraw
This famous bronze memorial was erected here in
1921 to commemorate Canadian Pacific Railway employees who had lost
their lives in the First World War. There were, astonishingly, 1,100
of them. Copies of the memorial, perhaps named Winged Victory,
went up in Winnipeg in 1922 and at Montréal's Windsor Station
in 1923. After the Second World War, a plaque was added to the statues
as a tribute to soldiers in that war.
The sculptor, commissioned by the railway after
a nation-wide hunt, was the grandly named Coeur de Lion MacCarthy.
London-born in 1881, he was the son of an artist with an equally
splendid name, Hamilton Plantagenet MacCarthy. He trained in his
fathers London studio, later moved to Montréal in about
1918 to establish his own studio. McCarthy created numerous war
memorials including monuments in Trois Rivieres and Knowlton, as
well as the Verdun War Memorial. He has a lot of other work around
Canada, including busts of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and of Sir John A.
Macdonald, small lions guarding the entrance to the Parliament Buildings
and a bust of Queen Victoria for the alcove above the Speaker's
chair in the Senate Chamber.
Winged Victory is a big piece of work. Exclusive of the
base it stands seven feet high and weighs 3,000 pounds. The three
copies of the work came from the foundry of the Henry Bonnard Company
of Mount Vernon, NY.
In 1967 some locals were dismayed by what they called a dirty
statue and used wire brushes and detergent to scrub the dirt
off. It was, in fact, the usual patina of a bronze statue exposed
to the elements. Exposure to air, says a web site on
the subject, gradually changes the bronze to green; sea air
and pollution hasten the process. Rain, saturated with chemicals,
shows up as streaks on the bronze. Such a patina is either valued
or, if not appreciated, can be prevented from the beginning by regularly
washing and waxing the statue.
Scratch marks from the cleaning can still be seen on the statue.
My thanks to friend and writer Jim McGraw for aiming me at sources
of information about MacCarthy, and for noticing that the sculptors
signature is on the work. The next time you go by, look for it.
MacCarthy died January 22, 1979 in Montréal at the age of
The tablet on the sculpture reads: To commemorate those in the
service of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company whom at the call
of King and Country left all that was dear to them, endured hardship,
faced danger and finally passed out of sight of men by the path
of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others
may live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their
names are not forgotten.
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