Saturday, 20 August 2011

A Prime Minister with Presence

There are statues of many of our Prime Ministers scattered around the perimeter of Parliament Hill.  William Lyon Mackenzie King is one of my favourites, both as a leader and as a sculpture.  His figure has a presence of command out doors in the Parliamentary landscape - imagine how he commanded a room.

As a man Mackenzie King lead Canada through most of the depression  and the Second World War.  He got on with Churchill and Roosevelt, in part through the guidance of his dead mother as channeled to him by his faithful Irish terrier, 'Pat'.  He was also responsible for instigating the major planning and urban design initiatives that have made Ottawa such a distinctive Capital.  I also enjoy visiting his estate, now part of Gatineau Park, where he built faux ruins incorporating some stone elements from the bombed House of Parliament.  Legend has it, that he asked his friend Winston Churchill for a few pieces and they were shipped here by submarine.

As a sculpture, the figure is boldly abstracted and stands apart from the realistic style of the neighbouring works.  I just wish the sculptor had added Pat, for company.  After all FDR, at his fantastic Washington monument has his Scottie, Fala, with him.

Oh, and an obscure note - some of the roofs on Centre Block are green and others are bronze in colour.  They are all copper, but the more recently replaced portions have not yet oxidized to the beautiful green patina of the Peace Tower.  As for Mr. Mackenzie King, he's bronze, and as long as the birds stay off likely to stay that colour.

1 comment: