Jack Purcell Park art honours the wrong Jack Purcell
Park named after hockey volunteer, not former badminton star
Jon Purcell's father became prominent in Ottawa's Centretown for mending hockey sticks and sharpening skates in the 1950s and 1960s.
He was not, however, a national and world champion badminton player. That accomplishment belongs to a different Jack Purcell, one who lived in Guelph, Ont. and died in 1991. They are not related, said Jon.
But the public art for the park unveiled earlier this year featured racket-like sculptures, after a consultant mistakenly confused the two Jack Purcells.
"It was an honest mistake," said Jon Purcell. "But I think maybe they should have went to a family member."
Councillor Diane Holmes blames the mistake on research that likely did not go beyond the internet.
"It's laziness to go to Google," said Holmes. "The history has been lost to our recreation department and to most people in the area."
Holmes said the original design called for the rackets to have strings as well, but once the error was realized, the more simplified design was implemented. Now the sculptures look more like "modernistic trees" says Holmes.
"My father played badminton here in Ottawa and played with the Rideau Badminton Club, and when he was in Toronto, Jack Purcell and my dad played an exhibition game," he said.
"It was billed as Jack Purcell versus Jack Purcell," he said.
Holmes said she's asking the city to put up a plaque at the park to remind people in the community who the real Jack Purcell was.