He’s looking pretty good for being over a hundred years old but he needs a companion! Last week on one of my walks I spent some time looking at the Golden Boy statue which sits atop the Manitoba Legislative Building on Broadway in Winnipeg.
I saw the statue up close and personal in 2002. It had been taken down because it needed to be repaired and regilded. It was put on display in the foyer of the Manitoba Museum, at that time still called The Museum of Man and Nature. Thousands of people came to look at the statue and have their picture taken with it. I was so close to the Golden Boy I could have touched it. It was definitely in need of a touch up since it had turned a sort of rusty green. It was covered with tags at the spots where repair work needed to take place.
The Golden Boy was created by Georges Gardet at a foundry in Paris. The foundry was destroyed by bombs during World War I, but the Golden Boy somehow emerged from the ruins unscathed, was rushed to a seaport, and loaded onto a French vessel carrying wheat. The liner was quickly commandeered to transport military troops. For the next while, the Golden Boy cruised the dangerous wartime ocean waters in the ship’s hold. When the fighting was over in 1919 the statue was taken to Halifax and from there shipped to Winnipeg.
The Golden Boy was purchased along with the two huge bison figures at the base of the legislative building’s main stairway, for a bargain price of $11,000. Now the statue is insured for more than fifteen times that amount, and just over one million dollars was spent restoring it to its former glory in 2002.
The Golden Boy, apparently inspired by the Greek God Hermes, is actually a nickname for the statue who is officially called Eternal Youth. Apparently once placed in his high spot, the sun glinted off his bronze covering, creating a certain golden effect. That’s how he earned the title Golden Boy. The torch in his right hand is supposed to represent a call to youth to join the pursuit of a more prosperous future for Manitoba.
It’s a lofty ideal, but I couldn’t help thinking as I viewed the statue, that the female half of our province’s population has been slighted. Young women have just as important a contribution to make to Manitoba’s future as young men do. Perhaps we need a Golden Girl to join the Golden Boy atop the Legislative Buildings.