Bringing the General home

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A statue of Major-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock is making its way to the University campus.

This is the story of two journeys.

One began a half century ago, and has no end.

It is the trajectory of Brock University, which opened in 1964 in a renovated factory with 127 students, and this year celebrates its 50th birthday on a modern campus bustling with more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff.

Those first 50 years produced over 82,000 graduates, and more intellectual, societal or athletic triumphs than could fit in this article.

The other journey will happen late this summer when a bronze sculpture of Major-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock leaves an Oregon foundry and travels across North America, carefully wrapped and secured on the back of a flatbed truck.

When he reaches Niagara, the General will be placed in his permanent home at Brock University, 19 kilometres from the battlefield where he fell two centuries ago.

He will perpetually watch over the campus that proudly bears his name, and an entire region that honours his role in the formation of what would become Canada.

Then in September comes one of the most anticipated moments in the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations: the official unveiling of Niagara’s hero, his contemplative double-life-size likeness rising above specially landscaped lawns in front of the Schmon Tower.

Conspicuously sited in the heart of the campus - where thousands of people get on and off buses, or pass by in vehicles and on foot - the striking figure will become the University’s emotive reference point, an iconic and timeless talisman for future generations of students, Niagara residents and Canadian heritage buffs.

The ambitious project by Canadian artist Danek Mozdzenski (whose sculpture of Lester Pearson graces Parliament Hill) is made possible by a $1 million-gift from businessman David S. Howes, a longtime University supporter and past chair of its Board of Trustees.

After being selected for the project in June 2013 from among 27 bids, Mozdzenski spent months researching General Brock’s physique as well as the nuances of 19th-century British officers’ uniforms.

Then he retreated to his Edmonton studio to create a scale model, or maquette, of what the final artwork will look like.

Early reviews are ecstatic.

A delegation who viewed the maquette this winter were struck by the beauty and impact of Mozdzenski’s work.

Over the next several months, craftsmen in the Oregon casting facility will meticulously transform Mozdzenski’s design into final artwork.

Then begins the journey home.

The route and dates have yet to be determined, but once the precious cargo is ready to leave its foundry, University officials intend to electronically track the General so people in Niagara, or anywhere in the global Brock alumni community, can go online and follow its progress.

Throughout the spring and summer, people can monitor the Brock University’s home page for updates. Share in this special journey of bringing the General home.

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Posted on March 10, 2014

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