Community has a cow over stainless steel statue
Councillors will meet this month to reach a compromise that appeases the local residents
The statue of Charity, Romandale Farm’s prizewinning Holstein cow, has been a source of controversy in the small subdivision of Cathedraltown since it was erected in June. Standing nine metres high, the stainless steel cow is propped up on stilts, making it rather hard to miss, especially for the residents of Charity Crescent — the cow’s namesake street, which wraps around a small urban park.
Erected by Helen Roman-Barber, the statue was inspired by a real cow named Charity, purchased in 1985 by Roman-Barber’s father and the owner of Romandale Farm, Stephen Roman. She commissioned local artist Ron Baird to create the sculpture to commemorate Charity and the history of the land.
Baird’s website showcases his other works, which are also mostly large-scale stainless steel sculptures propped up on stilts or tall poles. The description for Charity’s sculpture reads, “Made from surgical grade stainless-steel polished to a mirror finish to resist the elements, she sparkles in the sun and reflects all the colours of the sky and grass around her.”
Ed Shiller, Helen Roman-Barber’s spokesperson, said the statue is historically significant for the area as it reflects Charity Crescent’s prosperous past.
“At the time she was the world’s most productive dairy cow ever. I don’t know whether that record’s been broken now or not, but certainly she ranks among the top dairy cows in the world ever,” he said. “Charity also represents the economic roots of Markham, and those roots contributed to the growth of Markham today as a very prosperous city and industry.” However, many Cathedraltown residents have opposed the statue since before it was erected. “Some people found it offensive because it’s like you’re praising or praying to a cow,” said Tammy Armes, co-chair of the Cathedraltown Community Ratepayers Association. “It’s just too high. It looks awkward, and it’s just an eyesore.”
Next month, the residents might get their unobstructed skyline back: Markham City Council has intervened. In September, Ward 3 councillor Alan Ho, whose ward includes Charity Crescent, and regional councillor Nirmala Armstrong will sit down with Roman-Barber to try to reach a compromise on whether to remove the cow, relocate it or bring it closer to ground before the Markham City Council development services committee
Charity, the dairy cow and stainless steel not-so-prized Holstein of Charity Crescent