Coupland creates statue to mark War of 1812
Vancouver-based artist and author Douglas Coupland hopes his new military monument will help stop what he calls a "creeping revisionism" of the War of 1812.
"I've grown up and a lot of people have grown up thinking 'Oh, Americans lost that one didn't they?"' Coupland said Monday after unveiling the Monument to the War of 1812 outside a condominium near Fort York in Toronto.
"But once I began getting involved in the project and doing research, I began noticing that the Americans are now starting to change history and they're saying, 'Well actually we won that,' or, 'Actually, we didn't lose' or whatever.
"So it's a war monument but it's also an incitement for people to remember what's going on in the present as well as the past."
Commissioned by condo developer Malibu Investments Inc. and approved by the City of Toronto, the four-metre-high sculpture is of two soldiers — one standing and one fallen.
The standing soldier is painted gold and depicts a member of the 1813 Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The other is painted silver and depicts an American soldier from the 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
The monument is meant to be a scene from April 27, 1813, when U.S. troops overran Fort York, burned it and then left.
"I wanted to create something that was just a quick haiku moment for people driving by or walking by to think about the War of 1812," said Coupland, whose bestselling novels include Generation X, Life After God and JPod.
Coupland designed the monument using a 3-D model in Vancouver.
Calgary-based Heavy Industries, which makes dinosaurs for theme parks, constructed the piece with materials including steel armature, plastic moulding and foam, said Karen Mills, president of the firm Public Art Management.
The monument, which Mills estimated cost $500,000, arrived from Calgary on an open flatbed truck and was erected with a crane.
Coupland was one of several artists approached about three years ago by Mills to do the piece. The prolific writer and artist had to submit a proposal to a jury before being chosen.
Among those attending the ceremony were former governor general Adrienne Clarkson with her husband, John Raulston Saul. Also present were uniformed members of the Fort York Honour Guard and the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada, which does military re-enactments.