Statue with 'too much beard' will grace Provencher Park after all

A statue at Winnipeg's Provencher Park criticized for being "too old" and having "too much beard" by the group who commissioned will be finished.

Committee that bashed Miguel Joyal's statue of Georges Forest chooses to go ahead with it

Georges Forest, right, was an advocate for French-language rights in Manitoba. Winnipeg sculptor Miguel Joyal's depiction of Forest, seen on the left, which was rejected by a committee in charge of erecting a statue in Forest's honour in Provencher Park has changed its mind. (Left: Thibault Jourdan/Radio-Canada; Right: Submitted by Miguel Joyal)

A statue criticized for looking "too old" and having "too much beard" will be completed and eventually be erected in Winnipeg's Provencher Park. 

Last month, the project to celebrate French-language activist Georges Forest was almost cancelled. The organizing committee rejected the sculpture by Miguel Joyal on the basis that it had "wrong facial angles" and lacks "character [and] personality," said committee chair Marcien Ferland. They put the project on hold. 

Forest, who died in 1990, became famous in the 1970s for defending French language rights in Manitoba. He fought an English-only parking ticket all the way to the Supreme Court in 1979, which struck down a 1890 law that made the province unilingual. 

The city told the group they had until May 31 to resolve their dispute with the artist. They could only keep the $25,000 pledged to the project if the statue was built. 

This week, Ferland told Radio-Canada the committee is satisfied enough with the statue to see it through.

Joyal, who previously described working with the Forest statue committee as "a real nightmare," began working on the statue five years ago.

He first created a full-body figurine of Forest with his arm on a parking meter but it was rejected because it would be too costly to bronze. He completed his scaled-down bust in January.

Joyal has addressed several concerns since then. He's scaled back the abundant amount of facial hair the statue had, which required him to change Forest's head, and put more emphasis on the statue's eyes after hearing complaints they were too soft. 

For decades, Joyal worked at Festival du Voyageur making snow and ice sculptures. Perhaps his best-known work, though, is his statue of Métis leader Louis Riel, which stands outside the Manitoba Legislature near the Assiniboine River and replaced an earlier, and controversial, statue in the same spot.

The provincial legislature unveils a new, dignified statue of Riel to replace the controversial old one. 2:16

Plans to unveil the statue this month have been postponed. It needs to be bronzed, which Joyal previously said would take as long as six months.​

Another $25,000 will have to be fundraised, said Ferland.

About the Author

Ian Froese


Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email:

With files from Laura Glowacki and Sylviane Lanthie