Cape Breton Post
The buck stops here
Wildlife association, local business revive iconic statue, but now of a doe
RIVER RYAN — Thanks to a minor adjustment, the buck will now truly stop here in this community.
A popular deer statue, erected at the New Waterford Fish and Game Sportsmen's Memorial Park in River Ryan in 1990 in memory of deceased members, ended up having its antlers constantly tampered with to the point it was destroyed. Now the statue has returned but without the antler problem. This time it's a doe.
“Where our association revitalized the park and the amount of people using the park has skyrocketed, we were contacted by residents who would say that iconic symbol coming across the bridge is missed, asking how could it be replaced,” said Jeff McNeil, president of the Port Morien Wildlife Association.
But they didn't want a repeat of history with more vandalism.
“We ... grabbed the deer by the antlers ... to make this happened and returned with a doe,” he said.
BUSINESS STEPS UP
McNeil said their association recently revitalized the park and got tired of seeing the statue base with nothing on it and many from the community often commented that they missed it.
One day he called Brian MacDonald, owner of New Waterford Recycling, looking for a loan of a trailer for the association. While chatting, the subject of the statue came up so plans were put in place to rectify that.
McNeil said a statue was located in Prince Edward Island. He said it would have cost $1,300 to have it delivered to them. MacDonald gave them $500 plus $200 in two prepaid master cards for fuel and food, for two association volunteers to retrieve it. The statue was trucked across P.E.I. and the volunteers met the trucking company at the New Brunswick bridge.
“It was a $250 deer statue and by the time everything was done with transportation costs and meals for the guys, it cost about $850,” he said.
The Port Morien Association contributed $150 for the materials for their volunteers to mount and install it.
McNeil said MacDonald and the New Waterford recyclers have been awesome with this project, and also with the accessible fishing platform project in Glace Bay.
“Without their support our visions could not become reality,” he said. "We hope the community enjoys it but we also hope the community supports those who support us.”
BRIAN ‘MUNCHIE’ MACDONALD
MacDonald said while talking to McNeil one day the statue came up and he simply saw an opportunity to help.
“I asked him how much it would be to replace the statue and then told him to order it,” MacDonald said. “There was no sense in doing a fundraiser for an amount that was insignificant and, in my eyes, would bring that much attention back to that area.”
MacDonald gave the association a check for $500 plus $200 in gift cards for food and fuel. He discounted playing a major role saying the Port Morien Wildlife Association volunteers spent 13 hours in a truck to pick it up.
“That shows dedication right there,” he said. “They organized it, made all the phone calls, had it made, had it painted, delivered and set up. They did all the legwork, I only put my name on a check.”
He loves seeing the statue back up. He remembers as a child driving by and seeing it there.
“For it not to be there for so long over the cost it actually took it replace it, there wasn't a question.”
MacDonald said the community has been good to their business the last 25 years.
“It‘s a small way of giving back,” he said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”
THE ORIGINAL STATUE
Mick Bennett, a former member of the New Waterford Fish and Game Association, remembers how hard they worked to keep the statue there. According to the plaque on the base, it was erected in 1990. About 15 years ago or so, the vandalism started.
“They broke one antler one day and then about a week later the second antler disappeared,” he said.
Bennett said they found one antler and got it put back on and got a second one made to replace the other one. Then shortly after that someone smashed the back legs of the statue.
“Then they went out and broke the head of the deer,” he said. “At that time the legs and everything were gone. They wouldn't stop messing with the statue. That's when we took it down.”
Bennett said he's happy to see the statue back, adding it was awesome of Brian MacDonald step up and pay for it.
“He's very co-ordinated with the community,” he said. “Every time you turn around, all of the time, he's doing great things for people. He's a very special person.”
He said the statue makes the park look good.
“People go down there to fish, to stop and have a coffee,” he said. "It's nice and quiet down there. I'm glad to see the statue back.”
Charlie McPhee, a member of the New Waterford Fish and Game Association, made license plates for members and whoever wanted one many years ago which included a photo of the park and the deer statue.
MacPhee said it was great to see it back again. However he said garbage is a real problem there and he hopes that will change.
“People just leave it everywhere, they don't pick up after themselves.”