New Brunswick

Grampie's dinosaur: T. rex loose in New Brunswick

A big, green dinosaur is hiding in the woods of French Lake. But you don’t have to worry about being its lunch.

The Styrofoam sculpture is more than eight metres long and weighs about a tonne

Robin Hanson has added a Tyrannosaurus rex to his collection of sculptures at the Hanson Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden outside Geary. (Robin Hanson/Facebook)

There's now a big, green dinosaur in the woods of French Lake, 40-kilometre drive south of Fredericton.

But you don't have to worry about being its lunch.

The Tyrannosaurus rex sculpture was built by Robin Hanson, the owner of the Hanson Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden outside nearby Geary, after it was commissioned by his grandchildren five months ago.

"One of my grandkids, he goes like this, 'Well, Grampie, I'm really thinking that your art gallery needs to have a very special sculpture and I'm thinking that could be a T. rex,'" Hanson said.  

Hanson usually asks his grandchildren for ideas because they all love art, and it brings them together.

This 71-year-old sculptor's grandchildren asked him to build them a T. rex. A few months later, this monster came out of his shop ... 0:55

This isn't Hanson's first large sculpture. In 2015, he created an oversized statue of R.B. Bennett, Canada's only prime minister from New Brunswick. The statue was later sent to the federal government in Ottawa.

Hanson made a statue of R.B. Bennett, Canada's only prime minister from New Brunswick, in 2015 and it was later sent to Ottawa. (CBC News)

This is Hanson's first sculpture that dates back 65 million years.  

For his T. rex, he was inspired by his grandchildren's models of the infamous carnivore, and by the film Jurassic Park.

But after two months of working on it six hours a day, he realized what he had gotten himself into.

Hanson carved his Tyrannosaurus rex from Styrofoam blocks that were glued together. (Robin Hanson/Facebook)

"After two months on a stepladder, up eight feet working on it, it turned from the dinosaur to the monster," Hanson said.

Despite the challenge, he knew he had to get it done.

"When you make a commitment to your grandkids, you just can't back up from that, you've got to follow through on it," he said.

Hanson brought the beast to life by carving it from Styrofoam blocks he glued together. He then sealed the dinosaur with 68 litres of a special coating and painted it. 

Now, the T. rex stands about 3.5 metres tall, 3.5 metres wide and more than eight metres long and weighs about a tonne. 

Although it's not a replica of a T. rex, which would be just over 12 metres long, Hanson had trouble getting the piece out of his shop when it was finished.

Hanson was inspired by his grandchildren's Tyrannosaurus rex models and the film Jurassic Park. (Robin Hanson/Facebook)

"I didn't have any more space in the shop, but I've got a big shop," he said. "Maybe it's good that I don't have a bigger shop because it would be another few months before we'd ever get him finished."

Hanson said the T. rex is the hardest dinosaur he could've built.

"They've got those teeth and the tongue and the eyes wide open, and he's in an action stance," he said. "This is very challenging, so if you can do this, you can pretty well do just about anything."

When Hanson's grandchildren saw the T. rex for the first time, they ran up to it and gave it a big hug. They've even wanted to ride it, but their Grampie wouldn't let them because it's too dangerous.

"I said to them, 'If we were around at that time, we would be their choice meal.'"

Hanson created big teeth and scales for his T. rex but couldn't make it quite as large as the carnivore that lived 65 million years ago. (Robin Hanson/Facebook)

Now that the sculpture is completed, children who visit the gallery have been sharing their knowledge of dinosaurs with Hanson.

"The kids that come in, they start educating me on the T. rex and everything about that and the other dinosaurs, and so far, it's been really rewarding and good fun."

Hanson's grandchildren have already asked for more dinosaur sculptures.

"The kids have said, 'What about the raptors? There should be four or five raptors chasing around the dinosaur because they didn't get along,'" Hanson said.

He's considering making some raptors to go with the T. rex but he has other projects on his bucket list and sculptures can be expensive. The supplies for the T. rex cost nearly $10,000.

If not another dinosaur, Hanson's grandchildren have asked for something a little more mythical.

"The next project that they're looking for is the unicorn," he said, but it won't be as big as his T. rex.

The grand unveiling of the Tyrannosaurus rex sculpture is Saturday, June 15. The dino hasn't been named yet, but Hanson said he'll likely hold a contest to name him or her.

About the Author

Cassidy Chisholm is a summer intern at CBC New Brunswick. Have a story tip? Email her at cassidy.chisholm@cbc.ca.

With files from Graham Thompson

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