Unexpected Finds

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of playing tourist where I live.  I have spent countless hours seeking out the treasures within my home city and being delighted by what I find.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I bought a book called 150 Unusual Things To See In Ontario.  From this book, I identified 3 places in the Kitchener area I wanted to explore.

It’s about an hour’s drive from Toronto, and it didn’t take any effort on my part to convince fellow blogger, The Widow Badass, to accompany me on checking them out.  Each is within her home territory and – not a surprise – she had never visited any of them.

This post however is not about any of the 3 places we went out to find.  In the process of hunting down our targets, we discovered something completely unexpected.

It’s called the Prime Ministers Path.

MacDonald
Sir John A. MacDonald – Canada’s 1st Prime Minister 1867 to 1873 / 1878 to 1891

As we trudged through the snow against the sharp cold wind, we discovered 4 statues, although my subsequent research indicates that there are plans to add another 2 statues in 2018.  Eventually all 22 Prime Ministers (so far) will be commemorated.

These first 4 Prime Ministers were chosen rather strategically.  Sir John A. McDonald was obviously chosen since he was the first Prime Minister of the newly founded country in 1867.

Then came Sir Robert Borden, who was the Prime Minister when Canada celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1917.

Neither the Widow Badass or I guessed Sir Robert’s identity correctly.   Had we known this was a dedication to Prime Ministers, we would have guessed differently.

Robert Borden
Robert Borden – Prime Minister from 1911 to 1920

William Lyon MacKenzie was chosen to be honoured since he has the record of the longest sitting Prime Minister – 22 years.

At first we were puzzled by the 2 empty chairs in which he was engaged in conversation – then I laughed at the possible answer.

Although MacKenzie steered the country through a period of great turbulence and change, he is probably most famous for his eccentricities, including the regular seances he conducted to confer with his dead mother and others.

Mackenzie
William Lyon MacKenzie – Prime Minister from 1921 to 1926 / 1926 to 1930 /1935 to 1948.

Rounding out the first four Prime Ministers chosen for this project is Lester B. Pearson.  You may remember him from my post when I found his Toronto home when he was a student at the university.

Pearson
Lester B. Pearson – Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968

He was chosen in the top 4 because he was Prime Minister when Canada turned 100 years old in 1967.

Symbols marking his many achievements – including his Nobel Peace Prize – adorn the platform, however we were both completely baffled as to why he is depicted in his stocking feet.  I can only assume that he had a reputation in Parliament for removing his shoes, although I can find nothing to support or refute that theory.

Each statue was beautifully depicted with many small details and symbols imbedded in the structure.  Given the frigid temperatures, we didn’t linger long to investigate all the nuances.

MacKenzie2
On the back of MacKenzie’s chair.

If I had to make an educated guess on the next batch of Prime Ministers to be honoured, I would put my money on Pierre Elliott Trudeau being one of them.

He is the 3rd longest sitting Prime Minister (after MacKenzie and McDonald) and is responsible for patriating Canada’s Constitution (1982) and establishing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982).

Time will tell whether or not I’m correct.

Get out and explore around your own home town.  You never know what you might find!

 

85 comments

  1. I love the thought of playing tourist in my town. I may have to give that a whirl. I’m always impressed at all the details put into statues. It looks like they put a lot of thought into these.

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    • I admit that I have had a tendency to look at monuments at face value only. I’m come to realize that there is so much more in their design. One could spend a lifetime analyzing the symbolism in monuments! It is fascination and increases my sense of awe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They are beautifully rendered, but what I like most of all is the narrative aspect. They are not just monuments of famous people to be admired, but are designed to tell a story about some key moment in history. Armistice Day, for example, or Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize and the “big shoes” he left to be filled at some point in the future (hopefully).

    Jude

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  3. I enjoy your touristy posts, Joanne. Thanks for letting us go with you! I only wish I had been more of a “tourist where I lived” when I was in New Mexico. But I never could talk anyone into those things. Hugs.

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  4. We both always enjoy sculptures, especially in outdoor settings. I love how nature interacts with works of art depending on the placement of the sculpture and the season. The snow makes such a wonderfull backdrop and in some cases more than just backdrop, creating a light blanket. Your photographs are beautiful Joanne. Sounds and looks like such a fun discovery. Love the idea of exploring locally ~ always, no matter where you live!

    Peta

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  5. This was a cool thing to find on your way to find some other things. When I first looked at the statue of Robert Borden, I sisn’t realize that was a newspaper tucked in his arm. I thought “what happened to his arm” – it’s late for me, Joanne – this is why they don’t let me type at night.

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  6. What I love about those statues is the personality each conveys. That is so cool! Rather than just a man with his thumbs in his lapels, there’s a real character. How fun when all 22 are in place. Great find, Joanne!

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    • My comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, although MacKenzie’s interest in the spirit world is well-known.
      I did some more digging and found a short write-up about this statue. It’s called “A Meeting of Minds” and is supposed to illustrate the 1943 secret military meeting concerning the war effort,held by Britain, the US, and Canada in Quebec City .
      Thanks Jan for the nudge to do more digging.

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    • I would make a terrible journalist. It is only with the comments made by others that I think to research a question 🙂
      It appears that all the statues are relatively new. MacDonald in 2016, MacKenzie and Pearson in June 2017, and Borden added in Nov 2017.
      I haven’t yet found any clue as to when the next 2 will be unveiled in 2018.

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  7. What a wonderful way to commemorate your Prime Ministers. Each is different, with interesting details. I like this idea of mingling with the PMs much better than Mt. Rushmore wherein the past looks down on us.

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    • I’ve never been to Mt Rushmore but you make an excellent point about the ‘looking down’ part.
      My only criticism of the PM Walk is the lack of any signs that describe what it is. Only 2 of the 4 current statues have any description on them to signify who the statue represents. For young people, or those who don’t know Canada’s history, the statues would be a so-what.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What an interesting find Joanne. It’s amazing what we can find in our own backyards if we just take the time to have a look! I can relate to Lester, although my socks would have been off in addition to my shoes!

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    • Sadly, I’m old enough to remember both Pearson and Diefenbaker.
      It’s funny how we noticed only one statue … and then another … and then another …
      We looked for some kind of signs, plaque, or anything to explain what we were looking at, but found nothing. We recognized 3 of the 4 (sorry Sir Robert), but had absolutely no context.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hihih, Canada. These are certainly some of the quirkiest state-approved monuments I’ve ever seen. That empty chair is hilarious as is the Minister in socks. Excellent find! But this is what you get when you play tourist and you know it! Way to go! (Also, I don’t know her but The Badass Widow is a particularly great name for a blog. :D)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Manja … I like to think we Canadians are adorably quirky 🙂
      It turns out the empty chairs aren’t a nod to MacKenzie’s spiritual leanings, but rather refers to the 1943 secret military conference held in Canada with Britain and the US concerning the war effort. I learn something new everyday 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Glad to read about the Prime Minister’s path and now want to visit BUT also interested in the book of 150 places to visit in Ontario and what was on your original agenda when you headed out. Another post?

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    • Oh yes – I’m sure there will be more posts 🙂

      Our original agenda was Castle Kilbride (where we found the Prime Ministers Walk) but unfortunately it wasn’t open, the Blair Sheave Tower – very interesting history, and the Kitchener Pioneer Tower – also very interesting history.
      Neither of the towers were particularly easy to find.

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  11. What a cool find Joanne 🙂 Lester’s feet look a little cold to me though. We Americans are very lucky because we don’t have to worry about a monument for Trump. Last I heard when the times comes they plan on giving him an enema so he should fit in a shoebox. So we got that going for us which is nice 😀 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  12. The snow adds an interesting element to these shots. It makes them fittingly Canadian. I’d love to check this place out sometime if I’m ever in that area.
    For the next statue I’d put my money on Sir Wilfrid Laurier; Canada’s 1st Francophone PM and also longest consecutively serving PM. His very unimpressive childhood home is a historic site about 15 minutes from our place.
    Pierre Trudeau and maybe Diefenbaker would be good candidates for the next ones too.

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    • Laurier is an excellent candidate too! Diefenbaker is not one of my favourites. I will never forgive him for his treatment of the Avro program.
      It will be very interesting to see who the actual 2018 candidates are! Damn – now I will have to remember to follow-up! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Very cool, especially the shoes waiting to be filled. We usually don’t explore what is in our backyard until we have out of town guests, then are surprised by what we find. It took me a lot of years to finally embrace my surroundings (the mountains especially), I’m so glad I finally did. Looks like you are having fun exploring yours.

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    • All 4 statues are wonderfully detailed, but Pearson’s clearly shows a man whose contribution was beyond significant.

      I appreciate that where we live plays considerable influence on what we are able to explore. You have the magnificent Appalachians, while I have a lot of city 🙂

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  14. Fabulous take. The snow adds quite a dimension (aesthetic and metaphorical) to the commemorative statues. Good on you, too, for being a homeland tourist. We miss so much, thinking we need to be somewhere else.

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  15. What an interesting idea. Not sure they’d get away with it here though: I can think of one prime minister in living memory whose statue might not survive long! There is one of Margaret Thatcher inside the House of Commons but plans for an outdoor one were recently shelved, I believe.

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  16. I enjoyed reading this, what a great story. Your photos are lovely, especially with the snow. There’s always something to find in your local area if you look, I love doing that too!

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  17. I think the Prime Ministers Path would make a fun little hike, especially once all 22 PM’s have been collected. They were probably all very controversial in their time (just like our past presidents). But the further we look back on our political leaders, the more they seem to be liked by people of all parties.

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    • Oh yes – there are piles of controversy around our PMs too. It’s interesting how hindsight tends to change our perceptions – case in point, look at how much kinder the world is to Nixon now.
      … or maybe it’s just that the bar for bad has a way of finding new lows.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I love these cryptic statues Joanne. How wonderful that they contain clues about their subjects lives! I found the Ruth Abernethy website too, and so understand why Pearson is shoeless, but I’m wondering why McDonald is depicted standing between two chairs?

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  19. Hi, Joanne – Your posts always make me want to visit the places where you have just been. Today’s post was no exception. Before reading your last paragraph, I too would have guessed Pierre Elliot Trudeau for the next chair. Wonderful post!

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    • I wondered about this post – that it may only have appeal to Canadians. In the end, I decided that although our history may be rather tame compared to other countries, I decided that our leaders have been quirky enough to stand on their own 😉
      I’m struggling trying to keep my word count down.

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