Thunder Bay

Hillcrest colt mascot to be auctioned off for charity

A plan to auction off the metal horse that stands over the doors of the former Hillcrest High School in Thunder Bay, Ont. is sparking some lively online conversation.

The metal mascot was made by students and staff in the mid 90s

Hillcrest Neighbourhood Village Condiminiums is turning the former Thunder Bay, Ont. high school into residences. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

The future of a metal mascot that's been a fixture of the old Hillcrest High School building in Thunder Bay, Ont. is sparking some lively discussion online. 

The Hillcrest colt, which stands over the doorway of the former school, will have to be removed as part of an ongoing work to turn the building into condominiums, said Chris Tingey, a labourer working on the project.

So the owner of the building hopes to find a new home for the horse, while also benefiting a good cause. 

"They don't want to see it go to waste, they don't want to trash it," he said. "They're going to auction it off and they're going to match dollar for dollar whatever's raised, and they're going to donate all the proceeds to a charity."

The decision, which Tingey wrote about on a Facebook group, drew a lot of reaction, he said, both positive and negative. 

"Surprisingly, a lot of negatives," said Tingey, adding that many people seem to be upset with the idea of moving the colt.

"And I mean we would [leave it] ... except, unfortunately, we're not allowed." The horse has to be removed to meet the building code, he said. 

The emotional reaction, from former students in particular, is understandable, he said, adding that although it's only been in place since the 1990s, "the colt is synonymous with Hillcrest High School."

The making of the mascot

Metal sculptor Luc Despres remembers making the colt with a group of students in the mid 90s, when he worked at the school as a part-time tech teacher. 

"We decided to make a huge metal sculpture of the school mascot to kind of bring a sense of belonging, to help with the school spirit and pride of being at Hillcrest," he said. 

The work, which students did as an extracurricular project, took about six weeks, he said, recalling the day people gathered to see the horse mounted above the school.

"It was very exciting," he said. 

Despres said he's not sure where the horse should end up, but he likes the idea of auctioning it off for charity.

"I mean as long as it finds a good home," he said, adding that he's just as proud of the spirit of the project, as he is of the product.

"The product's the product. But the time that these young people put together to work hard on this, that's always going to belong to them, no matter what." 

Tingey said the horse will remain on the building until July or August.

Before it's auctioned, he hopes to arrange for those who had a hand in making the colt to gather together for a group photo.