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  • peter monahan
    Below is a somewhat incoherent article from the Toronto Star describing Toronto s newest piece of public art, located on a street corner near Ft York.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2008
      Below is a somewhat incoherent article from the Toronto Star
      describing Toronto's newest piece of public art, located on a street
      corner near Ft York. Copeland, btw, is probably best known for his
      unusul takes on Canadian culture, including the mural on a Toronto
      subway station wall which depicts Queen Elizabeth riding a moose.

      A photo of the monument has been posted in the PHOTOS section.

      Peter Monahan


      Nov 04, 2008

      FROM: DOUG


      Hi there.

      My dad was in the Canadian Air Force (not the Armed Forces ... he's
      picky on that one) and so I grew up surrounded by military objects
      and imagery everywhere: crests, weapons, pictures of my father flying
      jets and on and on. Growing up, Nov. 11 was a huge deal and I get
      sombre on the subject quickly.

      A few years ago I was on a train in England on Nov. 11 and suddenly
      the train stopped halfway inside a tunnel and everyone went silent
      for two minutes and it was a haunting experience for me, as if
      everyone died and their souls were collectively agreeing to go to
      heaven. It was like time stopped. And then the train started again
      and life resumed but it was different because of that small moment. I
      think Nov. 11 is a day when everyone, to some degree, harmonizes with
      everyone else in the best possible way.


      TO: DOUG

      What did your family do on Remembrance Day?

      DC: In general there's an unofficial dinner at my parents' place,
      poppies mandatory, and Dad talks about his military experiences and
      old friends. Most of them are gone now and so there's a wistful side
      to things. Dad's 83 – he loved every moment of military life.

      FK: Do you remember what you thought of it then?

      DC: My earliest war memories are of Vietnam on the CBS news on this
      ancient B&W TV in the living room. I remember that it never seemed to
      be going well. Even in kindergarten you could sense that it was a
      useless stupid war.

      FK: How long should society continue to honour Nov. 11?

      DC: Always. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and to not
      remember old wars is to diminish vigilance.

      FK: Do you think there's any chance some veterans might regard the
      sculpture as lacking in gravitas?

      DC: I don't think so. I think it's pretty obvious what the piece
      says. Yes, it's partially about war in the abstract, but it's also a
      reminder to passersby who might not be fully aware of the importance
      of the War of 1812 to our history. It's also bait to get people to go
      and see Fort York (where, BTW, you quickly learn how short people
      used to be in 1812).

      Much cheer and fire away more Q's if you like,


      FROM: DOUG

      Yup, I'll be at the unveiling. The event itself will be on the short
      side (cold out) and afterwards I donate scale model maquettes to Fort
      York inside the building's lobby.

      To more IMPORTANT subjects ...

      FK: You say: "It's pretty obvious what the piece says." What do you
      think it says?

      DC: I guess what I want to happen is for people to walk/drive/ride by
      and see these figures and say, "What the heck is going on here," and
      then maybe they'll stop and come over and see the figures in
      relationship to each other. And then they'll find out what they are
      and what they represent. The piece isn't so much an anti-war
      statement as it is a reminder of a) that there was once a War of 1812
      when the Americans tried to take Canada and lost, b) Toronto exists
      because of this war, c) Canada exists because of this war, d) there
      are people out there trying to (literally) rewrite history to make it
      look like the U.S. didn't lose and, e) why not take a stroll over to
      Historic Fort York, a trip rendered extra-surreal by the presence of
      the Gardiner.

      FK: As the author of books of iconic Canadiana (Souvenir of Canada),
      what do you think is our most iconic statement on war?

      DC: There's a photo of the trenches in WWI that I've never been able
      to shed from my mind. It's from the National Gallery, I think and has
      no copyright.

      FK: What do you think of the red poppy pins?

      DC: Please, dear God, can somebody invent a better pin so that they
      don't always fall off in the first three minutes? And I remember they
      used to be three-coloured growing up. How hard is it to add a touch
      of green to it? It's as if by not taking pride in their craftsmanship
      we're forgetting something.

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