New Ot­tawa mon­u­ment fea­tures Stanstead Grey

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier Stanstead

On Sun­day, June 26th, a crowd of over one thou­sand which in­cluded Sen­a­tors, Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, em­bassy rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Cana­di­ans of Ukrainian de­scent, gath­ered for the un­veil­ing of a beau­ti­ful mon­u­ment at the St. John the Bap­tist Ukrainian Catholic Na­tional Shrine, in Ot­tawa.

The mon­u­ment was in hon­our of Taras Shevchenko who was a Ukrainian poet, artist, na­tion­al­ist and a ma­jor fig­ure in the Ukrainian na­tional re­vival. It was de­signed by the fa­mous Ukrainian-Cana­dian sculp­tor Leo Mol, who died in 2009, be­fore he could wit­ness the in­stal­la­tion of this tribute, one of many that he cre­ated, to the Ukrainian folk hero. Mr. Mol spent eight years cre­at­ing the work.

The lo­cal con­nec­tion of this story is that the mon­u­ment, which con­sists of four sep­a­rate sculp­tures, sits on four im­mense Stanstead ‘Grey’gran­ite tow­ers which, to­gether, weigh more than one hun­dred tons. “We built four gran­ite tow­ers – one for each statue. The main tower, the one for the poet, was built with six gran­ite cubes, each four foot square, and stood twen­ty­four feet high,” ex­plained Kelly Conn of Rock of Ages Canada, where the tow­ers were built. The three smaller tow­ers hold artis­tic sym­bols from Shevchenko’s writ­ing: the “Kateryna” fig­ure which rep­re­sents a Ukrainian woman left with a child by a Rus­sian sol­dier; the “Ban­durist” fig­ure of a folk mu­si­cian; and the “Hay­damaky” statue based on the peas­ant up­ris­ings.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Conn, the orig­i­nal de­sign called for a metal frame clad with thin gran­ite for the tow­ers, how­ever, the con­trac­tor said that solid gran­ite would be more sta­ble and vis­ually more ap­peal­ing. “What was nice about this pro­ject was that it got the ar­chi­tects away from gran­ite cladding; our tem­per­a­ture changes can cre­ate is­sues with cladding whereas solid gran­ite is per­ma­nent,” said Mr. Conn.

The pro­ject was ini­ti­ated by Ot­tawa res­i­dent, Or­est Dubas. “Mr. Dubas came to Stanstead with a cou­ple of ar­chi­tects to tour our fa­cil­ity and ap­prove the draw­ings at the end of April, and then we got started,” said Mr. Conn who had to visit the site in Ot­tawa a cou­ple of times to “do some fine-tun­ing to make sure the tow­ers fit well.”

The pro­ject was a chal­leng­ing one. The gran­ite com­pany had to cut fif­teen huge blocks of gran­ite for the four tow­ers, the blocks rang­ing in size from roughly four by four foot square to rec­tan­gles of roughly seven by eight feet by 3 feet. On top of that, the orig­i­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion draw­ings for the mon­u­ment were drawn by hand in­stead of by com­puter, by re­tired ar­chi­tects who were likely vol­un­teer­ing their time for the im­por­tant pro­ject. “What was spe­cial about this pro­ject was the size of the pieces and that they needed to be joined to­gether. The an­gles needed to be cut to pre­ci­sion; we used a con­tour wire saw. The blocks also had to be stacked so there was no room for er­ror. Dif­fer­ences of ¼ inch can be tol­er­ated in this in­dus­try – but not for this mon­u­ment be­cause the pieces had to fit to­gether,” ex­plained Mr. Conn. The blocks were all fin­ished with a ‘steel fin­ish’ which made the stone lighter in colour so the in­scrip­tions would stand out more.

“The only down­side was that we were saw­ing blocks of gran­ite with a block saw which is not a high pre­ci­sion in­stru­ment. So once the pieces were cut, we had to do a lot of han­dling of the pieces, a lot of grind­ing. It was a very time-con­sum­ing process right in our peak sea­son and dif­fi­cult to co­or­di­nate in the shop. To meet the dead­line we had to fin­ish one piece per day and each piece had to be turned four times. For the last four weeks be­fore the dead­line we were work­ing overtime and on week­ends to get it done,” he added.

The spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the in­stal­la­tion of the mon­u­ment called for Stanstead Grey, a gran­ite which is

well-known in Ot­tawa. “For us it was an awe­some pro­ject be­cause it was an ex­am­ple to the en­gi­neer­ing and ar­chi­tec­tural com­mu­ni­ties of how a per­ma­nent struc­ture should be con­structed: us­ing solid gran­ite rather than cladding. That’s how our an­ces­tors built struc­tures,” con­cluded Mr. Conn.

Photo cour­tesy

The fin­ished mon­u­ment was un­veiled in Ot­tawa at the end of June in front of a crowd of over a thou­sand. The in­stal­la­tion of the me­mo­rial was timed to co­in­cide with the 120th an­niver­sary of the first Ukraini­ans com­ing to Canada.

Kelly Conn (left) and Re­jean Gau­thier (right), both of Rock of Ages, look on as ar­chi­tect Derek Crane in­spects a block of gran­ite to be used in the mon­u­ment.

Work­ers painstak­ingly place the last block of

gran­ite at the site.

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