New home for Brock’s Shoulder

From a distance, it looks like a large rock; but there’s much more to the piece of limestone that now sits beneath the stairs in Brock University’s Rankin Family Pavilion.

Known to the University community as Brock’s Shoulder, the stone torso was once part of Brock’s Monument — a 56-metre stone column and statue of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock in Queenston Heights Park.

In 1929, several pieces of the monument were damaged by a lightning storm. Brock’s outstretched right arm had fallen off and, although intact, the torso, left shoulder and head were in poor shape.

A person wearing a brimmed hat bends over to use a cleaning brush to scrub a stone torso. A long hose is uncoiled on the ground and a large white bucket sits next to the stone. A small container of cleaning chemicals is on the ground.

Brock’s Shoulder was professionally cleaned by restoration specialist Joshua Chan last summer.

The following year, the torso and arms were rebuilt from scratch, the head was repaired and put back into position, and the damaged pieces were removed and stored at the monument’s base.

The pieces remained there for more than three decades until 1966, when a group of Brock students collected the damaged torso and shoulder piece from Queenston Heights and brought it to Brock’s campus in St. Catharines, which, at the time, was a former refrigerator factory at the bottom of Glenridge hill.

Upon learning of the mischievous act, Brock President James A. Gibson promptly returned the stone. The following year, students repeated the escapade.

Several years later in 1973, the piece returned to Brock once again, this time through legitimate means. Parks Canada donated Brock’s Shoulder as a tribute to the many people and organizations that contributed to the University’s Founding Fund. It was placed outside between Mackenzie Chown Complex Blocks B and C in what was called Founders’ Court.

For the University’s 25th anniversary in 1989, Brock’s Shoulder was transferred to the edge of Jubilee Court near DeCew Residence. In 2007, it was moved within Jubilee Court to the end of the walkway near the entrance to Mackenzie Chown Complex E, F and H Blocks.

After more than four decades outdoors, Brock’s Shoulder was moved inside in 2016, first to a campus barn and then two years later to the Central Utilities Building. Last summer, a restoration specialist professionally cleaned the stone to ready it for a more permanent location indoors.

Last week, members of Brock’s Facilities Management team carefully moved Brock’s Shoulder to a place of prominence for many to appreciate: the Rankin Family Pavilion, which is considered the ‘front door’ of the University.

Over the next several weeks, a memorial plaque will be installed to explain the stone’s history and significance to the University.

To learn more about the folklore and history behind Brock’s Shoulder, read this Brock News article, co-written in 2011 by the late Alun Hughes, former local historian and Brock Associate Professor of Geography. Hughes also published a more detailed article in The Historical Society of St. Catharines newsletter (page 9) the same year.

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