By Stephen Dafoe
Legal – The Centralta Tourism Society unveiled its 34th Francophone work of art on St. Jean Baptiste Day, but unlike the preceding 33, this one is completely off the wall – literally. At 20 feet wide and 30 feet tall, the new work of art combines the welding and fabricating talents of Louis Forcade and his family with the painting skill of John Ellenberger to create a massive three dimensional monument depicting the history of bilingualism and the history of French settlers and their relationship with the British.
The base of the map consists of a 20-foot wide map of Canada with the dates 1775 – 1778 and 1812 – 1814, war years when the Americans attempted to invade what would become Canada, only to be repelled by the French and English.
Atop the map is a large golden maple leaf from which arise a Union Jack and Quebec flag. In front of the maple leaf are the likeness of Sir Guy Carleton, Governor of the Province of Quebec from 1768 to 1778, and the likeness of a French militiaman, the latter patterned after the sculpture of the work, Louis Forcade. From the extended hands of the men are ten flags representing the various nationalities that populate Canada. Rising from the centre of the maple leaf is a 30-foot tall flag pole from which waves the Canadian Flag.
Legal has achieved national recognition as the Francophone mural capital of Canada, but with the unveiling of its most recent contribution, Legal now has an objet d’art to rival Pysanka’s giant Easter egg or Vulcan’s Starship Enterprise. It is a focal point and tourist draw that will be the gateway through which tourists view the communities other murals.
Legal Mayor Albert St. Jean, who had previously only seen the art work in its unpainted form, said he was impressed with the completed work. “I think this is going to be the main monument that people in Legal actually come to see,” the mayor said Friday. “If you take a look at all the flags that are on there, it shows the different nationalities, and a lot of those nationalities live in this town. It shows a united Canada together. I think it is quite the piece to show the people.”
The mayor said the monument will be placed near the self -storage units at the entrance to town. Recent heavy rain prevented having the location prepared for Friday’s St. Jean Baptiste Day unveiling; however, it is anticipated the sculpture will be installed in its permanent place in time for Fête au Village to be held July 22 and 23.
Friday’s unveiling was attended by French Immersion students from Red Deer and Legal, the former receiving a tour of the town’s Francophone murals from Ernest Chauvet of the Centralta Tourism Society.
Video footage of the flag raising on Legal’s new Francophone monument.