Friday, July 23, 2010

Faces Around Town

Anyone who has spent any time at all in Mazatlan is familiar with the sculptures, especially the ones along the Malecon.

In my wanderings around the grounds of The Legislative Buildings recently I found several interesting faces, some I was familiar with and some I was not.

There was good old Queen Victoria, everyone knows her!

and Louis Riel, we know him too.

The Earl of Dufferin

and James Wolfe

might not be as well known so I cheated and took a photo of the plaques as well.

but Taras Shevchenko, who was he???? I had to look him up. How did we ever live without Google?????????????

Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko was a Ukrainian poet, artist and humanist. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language. Shevchenko also wrote in Russian and left many masterpieces as a painter and an illustrator. There are monuments to him all over the world - even one here in Manitoba!

The sculpture of Nellie McClung and the Famous Five was unvieled the week before my visit. I'm sure all the women who are reading this know who Nellie McClung is, but just in case, I took a few extra photos (good idea because I'm feeling lazy)

My favourite faces were on the residents of 'Bear Park".

Sixty-two polar bears were displayed on Broadway Avenue, starting in front of the Legislature and continuing to Portage Avenue, throughout the summer of 2006. The bears were a fund raiser for CancerCare Manitoba and over $500,000.00 was raised, $320,000.00 in the first few weeks of the exhibit alone. Each concrete bear is over six feet tall and was given a unique identity by a local artist. Polar bears were chosen for the project based on the fact that Manitoba is well known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, and because Winnipeg is the original home of Winnie the Pooh. Eighteen of the bears now live in the Bear Park behind the Legislative Buildings and the balance have been distributed around the city.

I love the bears!

The Two Minute Rule

When I was still working, my boss shared the "Two Minute Rule" with me. Basically, when you think of something that needs to be done, go ahead and do it. It will probably only take two minutes (hence the name of the "Rule") and if you don't do it, chances are you'll forget and it won't get done at all.

Well, he was right. I was working on my post about the Legislative Buildings and was rambling on about the Masonic codes and messages hidden within the building and detailed in the book, 'The Hermetic Code', but darned if I could remember the name of the author of the book. I'll just put in a few xxx's I thought to myself and then before I publish the post, I'll look up the name. Unh hunh, sure you will. It wasn't until my husband came home and read my latest efforts that I realized I'd forgotten to check and edit.

The "Two Minute Rule" is not to be taken lightly.

The author's name, by the way, is Frank Albo. He is a Research Fellow at the University of Winnipeg and a specialist in ancient Near Eastern religions and Western esoteric traditions. He is presently a Huygens scholar in the Department of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam and a doctoral candidate in the History of Architecture at the University of Cambridge, UK.

(I lifted part of that from the Internet - and it took less than Two Minutes!!!!!!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Golden Boy

As part of my on-going quest to see what I can do for free this summer, and because the Queen was coming to town, I decided it was high time I explored our Legistlative Building. We've lived in Winnipeg for almost 20 years and I've never been! So, once again, I rounded up a friend and set off with the camera.

The Legislative Building is located in the south part of downtown Winnipeg on 30 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Government House, residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, is located on the southeast corner of the grounds. The Assiniboine River, once a route used by fur traders and explorers, forms the southern boundary.

The river was really high when we were there and the dock was under water - and I doubt the tour boats were around when the building was under construction!

The other three boundaries are formed by Osborne Street on the west, Broadway Avenue to the north and Kennedy Street on the east.

Excavation of the "Ledge" began in 1913. By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, walls were beginning to take shape above the foundation, but a shortage of material, labour and funds delayed construction to such an extent that the building was not ready for partial occupancy until 1919, well after the end of the war. On July 15, 1920, the province's 50th anniversary date, opening ceremonies were performed by Sir James Aikins, then Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. (Just a bit of history to make reading all this semi-worthwhile!)

The Building is actually steeped in mystery!

Many of the designs in the building are repeated. The Grecian key, as well as other symbols of eternity, such as the wave or running dog pattern and the circle motif, are found throughout the interior and the exterior of the building.

Also repeated throughout the building is the number 13, as seen in the number of bulbs in the Roman Standard Lamps that help light the Rotunda. Some believe the number symbolized luck for the ancient Egyptians. Others believe the number holds symbolic importance to freemasons, whose members were, no doubt, involved in the design and construction of the Legislative Building. Frank Albo, who wrote the book, The Hermetic Code, a best seller in Manitoba, has attempted to explain the trail of secret messages and symbols concealed in the architecture of the building. Shades of Dan Brown!!!! Others believe such repetition is because ancient Romans felt the number 13 to be bad luck and hoped that honouring the number was the way to escape its curse. Most agree it is an intriguing but unsolvable mystery. (Another history lesson)

Guided tours of the building are available, however the tour costs just under $40.00 (and just over $50.00 if you want a copy of the book) and as I am trying to do this without spending any money, I just wandered on my own. I have put the book on my 'want to read' list.

The 'high' point of my self guided tour was, of course, the Golden Boy. Here comes the history lesson again!

The Golden Boy, a magnificently gilded 5.25M (17.2-foot) figure, is probably Manitoba's best known symbol. Embodying the spirit of enterprise and eternal youth, he is poised atop the dome of the building. He faces the north, with its mineral resources, fish, forest, furs, hydroelectric power and seaport, where his province's future lies.

The boy is a runner, like the messengers in Greek mythology. He carries a sheaf of golden grain in his left arm, while his right hand holds high a torch, calling youth to enter the race. The top of his torch is 77 metres (255 feet) above ground and before the more recent construction of high-rise buildings that today form Winnipeg's skyline, it was the highest point in the city.

The figure was sculpted by Charles Gardet of Paris, and cast in 1918 at the Barbidienne foundry in France. The foundry was partially destroyed by bombs during the First World War, but the Golden Boy emerged unharmed. The figure was rushed to a seaport and put aboard a French ship carrying wheat. Before the ship could put out to sea, it was commandeered for the transport of troops.

The boy lay in the hold of the ship, travelling many miles, constantly in danger. When the war was over, the figure arrived at Halifax and was shipped to Winnipeg and finally hoisted to the top of Manitoba's then-new Legislative Building.

The Golden Boy was in place for the official opening of the Legislative Building in 1920. Except for several months during 2002, when workers lowered the Golden Boy from the dome for repair and refurbishing, he has stood proud as a symbol for all Manitobans.

I even sumbled across a piece of Mexico in the building - an extraordinary artwork donated to the Province of Manitoba by the State of Jalisco!

Enough with the history lesson. By the way, I'm going to be honest - I plagerized some of the history part - I honestly didn't already know all of this - and the close up of the Golden Boy was taken in the Gift Shop (there are Gift Shops everywhere!) Apparently climbing to the roof top of the Legislative Building is frowned upon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Assiniboine Park

We have been having the most beautiful weather and I decided last Thursday that it was far too nice a day to be spent indoors cleaning the house and preparing dinner. So, a friend and I set off to explore Assiniboine Park. We used to live within walking distance but I must confess I haven't been there in years and a visit was long overdue. I took the camera and, of course, took way too many pictures and the hard part has been deciding which ones to share!

But first, some history .....

Assiniboine Park was established in 1904 and today it covers 1,100 acres, 400 acres designed in the English landscape style.

The Park includes the 700-acre Assiniboine Forest, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Assiniboine Park Conservatory, the historic Assiniboine Park Pavilion, formal and informal gardens, a sculpture garden, a miniature railway, and an outdoor bandshell theatre for performing arts and numerous other attractions.

We decided to focus on just a few areas of the park on our visit, so started off in the Pavilion, wandering through several of the galleries.

We checked out the Mask and Mythologies series by Ivan Eyre

and also a display of works by Clarence Tillenius, a noted nature artist, where his sculpture of Leo Mol was being exhibited. More on Leo Mol later!

The art galleries are lovely and some of the art on display this week was interesting (!!)

but the whole point of the day was to be outside so we headed over to the English Garden and the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden.

The English Garden, established between 1926 and 1927, is known throughout North America for its display of thousands of annual and perennial flowers. The English Garden contains nearly three acres of flowers, shrubs and trees in the traditional English style and is the perfect place to spend a peaceful hour or so.

My favourite spot in the Park is The Leo Mol Sculpture Garden which was opened in 1992. Leo Mol was a Ukrainian Canadian artist and sculptor. The Sculpture Garden is supported by private donations, and Leo Mol personally donated most of the sculpture. In 2002, his sculpture, Lumberjacks, was featured on a Canadian postage stamp.

Some of Leo Mol's most famous works include likenesses of three different Popes which stand in museums in the Vatican. Other important subjects sculpted by Mol include members of the Group of 7, Sir Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Terry Fox. His over life-size standing portrait figure of Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker stands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Also on Parliament Hill stands a bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II, the replica of which she unveiled here in Winnipeg on her recent visit.

More than 300 of his works are on display in the Sculpture Garden.

Leo Mol died July 4, 2009. He was 94.

So, where to next .... I've made a list! The goal is to find places to go that are free to get into which means that I'll have to face the crowds and hit the Zoo on a Tuesday!