The 14-foot camels and wise men weigh about 300 pounds each and are made of plywood, chicken wire, Styrofoam and Silastic
—Marlene Klassen, assistant vice-president of communications services, Great-West Life
It's a sure sign the holidays have arrived when the Three Wise Men appear, perched atop the Great-West Life building at 60 Osborne Street.
They've been around as long as we can remember, so SCENE decided to find out a little bit more about the annual seasonal display.
Three Wise Men in their usual spot
(courtesy Great-West Life)
Marlene Klassen is the assistant vice-president of communications services for Great-West in Winnipeg, she says the tradition dates back to 1973. "The Three Wise Men were first displayed on the annex of the 60 Osborne Street building's north wing. They were moved to the roof of the building's main entrance the following year, where they have appeared every Christmas season since."
The figures were built by the now-defunct Reimer Display Ltd., and they're heavier than they look. "The 14-foot camels and wise men weigh about 300 pounds each and are made of plywood, chicken wire, Styrofoam and Silastic - a plastic-impregnated cloth which becomes rock-hard once it dries," she says.
Which is why in late November a large crane appears outside the building for the six hour process of lifting the camels and wise men into their positions, where they are secured with wires and sandbags.