UXBRIDGE: What has been touted as "the largest public art commission in Uxbridge's history" was officially unveiled recently.
On Friday, July 5, a large crowd - including Kate Macdonald, the granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery - gathered at the Historic Leaskdale Church for the launch of the "Maud in the Garden" statue.
According to Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario (LMMSO) President Kathy Wasylenky, the statue, which is intended to be a life-sized bronze likeness of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the one-time Leaskdale resident and author of 'Anne of Green Gables' and several other notable titles, originally came about during the 100th anniversary celebrations of Maud's arrival in Leaskdale two years ago.
"As a result of our big celebration surrounding the 100th anniversary of Maud's arrival, we had some extra money and decided to put in a statue in the garden, because that's where Maud found her solace. We thought that a garden on the south side of the church would be a great memorial for Maud," Ms. Wasylenky told The Standard.
While the LMMSO continues to seek out grants to help offset the cost of the project, they are already hard at work raising their expected portion of the project, which is expected to be $29,000. Ms. Wasylenky added that the garden at the church has been buoyed by a recent donation from Canadian Tire Uxbridge.
The man charged with crafting the statue is renowned Uxbridge artist Wynn Walters, who spoke glowingly about the opportunity to be a part of such an ambitious project.
"I consider this to be the opportunity of a lifetime," Mr. Walters explained. "The pinnacle of sculpting is to be able to do a life-sized bronze sculpture, and it is a courageous commission to be sure. This will likely be the largest-ever public art commission in the Uxbridge area, and I'm grateful to be a part of such an ambitious and courageous endeavour."
Adding to the excitement of the announcement was a surprise appearance by local actress Jennifer Carroll, who is in the midst of her second run as the title character in 'Maud of Leaskdale,' which runs at the Historic Leaskdale Church throughout the summer.
Ms. Carroll appeared onstage with Mr. Walters and a replica of the statue. It was later revealed by Mr. Walters that Ms. Carroll had acted as the model for the statue.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor also took part in the presentation, as she praised the continued efforts of the LMMSO in preserving a key portion of Uxbridge's heritage. Lucy Maud Montgomery would pen 11 of her 22 novels during the 15 years she spent living in Leaskdale.
"I can't say enough about the LMMSO, they are one of the hardest working groups I know of," said Mayor O'Connor.
"When I first heard about the statue, I thought it was the most amazing thing. Wynn's work is second-to-none, and we are blessed to have him in our community."
For more information on the LMMSO and all of their upcoming events, please visit their web site at www.lucymaudmontgomery.ca.