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Statue a legacy to Mowat’s love of nature

Statue a legacy to Mowat’s love of nature
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Sculptor George Boileau raves about the location of the piece, nestled among the trees at the heart of campus. It’s a fitting scene, given the message he hopes viewers will take from the statue. The sculpture of the bushy-bearded author is equipped with a walking stick, a heavy coat and thick boots, with faithful dog Chester at his heel.

Chester represents the natural world, Boileau explained. Farley is on a walk somewhere in northern Canada, and sees something ahead on the path.

“So he’s looking forward, and the allegory for that is the future. And whatever it is that he sees, his first reaction is to protect the dog, so he puts his hand down to stop the dog.”

Claire Mowat, the author’s widow, said the unveiling Wednesday was “surreal” given that Farley only died a few weeks ago.

“To see a replica of him was quite moving,” she said.

“It certainly looks like him. And I just know he’d be very happy that it was here. Saskatoon meant a lot to him, from his boyhood.”

Farley Mowat spent part of his youth in the city, and got his start as a writer by penning a few bird columns for The StarPhoenix.

Boileau said it was overwhelming to be at the unveiling, “but it’s been overwhelming right from the beginning.”

It’s taken four years of work — a bronze statue isn’t an easy project, he said. Boileau had to build a substantial armature that would support 600 pounds of clay, then make the rubber mould, cover that with a fibreglass shell, and paint the inside with a 3/16-inch coating of wax. And after Chester died, part way through the project, Farley and Claire wanted him immortalized as well.

Finally, it was sent to the foundry where the stature was welded and cast.

There were also a couple of scares along the way, particularly when the wax deformed in transit and Farley emerged from his box bent over. Boileau was also terrified by every bump in the road as he drove clay moulds of Farley’s face all the way to the artist’s Cape Breton home for inspection.

“This is what I did. When I wasn’t teaching, I was working on Farley, or I was reading Farley,” said Boileau.
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