Logging Memorial Unveiled
The community of Blind River, Ontario commemorates the contribution of the forest industry with a memorial.
By Tony Kryzanowski
A huge bronze sculpture called the Northern Ontario Logging Memorial, featuring a typical log river-driving scene, was unveiled along the TransCanada Highway in Blind River, Ontario this past summer. The memorial was built to recognize the contribution that the forest industry has made to establish many northern Ontario communities, to educate Canadians about the contribution that the forest industry has made to the development of Canada and to recognize the individual sacrifices made by Canada's loggers. It was constructed as a partnership project between the Blind River Lions Club, the town of Blind River and the Canada Millennium Partnership Program at a cost of $200,000. Because it is the first of its kind in North America, project organizers anticipate that word of the memorial will spread throughout Canada and the United States and that it will become a leading attraction in the region.
With its location along the TransCanada, millions of motorists are expected to see the memorial every year. Blind River is located about halfway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. Created by Ontario artist Laura Brown Breetvelt and called The River Hogs, the sculpture features two life-size river drivers cast in bronze working to clear a log jam on a river deep inside the forest. They have pike poles and peaveys- strong poles with moveable hooks-in their hands. The logjam in the sculpture is comprised of immense logs piled precariously on a rock, in a pool of cascading water. The logs are sand cast with a bonded bronze surface. Three copper trees standing 18 to 30 feet tall represent the forest. The copper will, over time, turn to a pine tree's natural shade of green. The monument is built on a multilevel platform that allows the public to take a closer look. Six exterior lights allow for night viewing.
This past summer, the Blind River fire hall was bursting at the seams, much to the surprise and pleasure of the organizing committee, when the memorial was officially unveiled. Many speakers commented that attendance at the unveiling was a strong testament to the continuing importance of forestry to the area. Some people traveled 500 kilometres to attend the unveiling. Environment Minister Dan Newman represented the provincial government at the ceremony. The memorial is strategically located at the eastern side of Blind River and comprises part of the town's Heritage Centre. This area features a museum depicting the history of logging in northern Ontario as well as a native art gallery. It's expected that 50,000 people will visit the Heritage Centre annually.
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