Toronto

Popular driftwood statue El Corazon washed away in weekend ice storm

El Corazon, a sculpture made almost entirely of driftwood from Lake Ontario, no longer adorns the shore of Humber Bay after it was washed away by high winds and waves from last weekend's ice storm.

The team that created El Corazon is looking for financial help to replace the installation

The first piece of the El Corazon structure that washed away was the leg, according to witnesses. (Robin Clay)

El Corazon, a sculpture made almost entirely of driftwood sourced from Lake Ontario, no longer adorns the shore of Humber Bay after it was washed away by high winds and waves from last weekend's ice storm.

"The first thing that disappeared was the leg," said Humber Bay Shores resident Robin Clay. 
El Corazon was made entirely of driftwood from Lake Ontario. (Robin Clay)

Within hours the rest of El Corazon — which means "The Heart" in Spanish — had drifted away and now all Clay sees from his window is the rocky embankment where it used to sit. 

"I'll tell you, the whole community is in mourning," he said about the beloved statue, which was a popular selfie destination among tourists and locals alike.

"We had always consistently about a dozen people lining up to have pictures taken, wedding photos taken," he said. 

Now just the head and part of the body lies on the shore after pieces of the sculpture eventually washed up. Flowers have been placed on the driftwood remnants by passersby. 

"There's a strong hope that it can be replicated again." 

One of El Corazon's creators, artist Thelia Sanders-Shelton, would love to because she and her partner did not see its destruction coming. 
The structure was hammered by waves during the ice storm. (Robin Clay)

"We had imagined El Corazon would be there for longer because he had made it through the worst of the winter," she said. 

Sanders-Shelton is not new to driftwood art installations and says they were extra vigilant in securing the sculpture properly. 

She and her team at Shore Land Arts is responsible for another very popular attraction — the driftwood Toronto sign, also on Humber Bay. 

Parts of it blew over in strong winds back in December.  

But El Corazon was a much larger structure and Sanders-Shelton made sure it was secured to the rock embankment with heavy duty wood and desk screws.

It was also weighted down with rocks. 
People have placed flowers on the pieces of El Corazon that have washed back ashore. (Robin Clay)

"It was heavy and we knew that people would be climbing on it, so we had metal for the neck in the head so there was no chance of anybody hanging on it and it breaking off," she said. 

But it was gone with the waves and now Sanders-Shelton says she looks forward to rebuilding on the spot where El Corazon once stood.

"It took us 23 days to build El Corazon and everything came out of pocket," she said, adding that she hopes her team gets a little financial help. 

"We set up a Go Fund Me so that we can continue doing public art." 

In the meantime, she is touched by the impact El Corazon had on the residents of the Humber Bay Shores neighbourhood and beyond. 

"For us, public art is sharing the love." 

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