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The Golden Boy

by Irene Craig

Manitoba Pageant, September 1956

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

In 1951 the 5 ton lad on the top of the Dome of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg, was outfitted with a new suit - a garb of gold. This youthful figure carries a torch; the call of eternal youth to join in the race. The Boy is poised on his left foot in the pose of a runner and the tip of the torch he carries in his right hand is 255 feet above ground. In the curve of his left arm rests a golden sheaf of wheat. He is 13 feet, 6 inches tall typifying "Eternal Youth" or "The Spirit of Enterprise" but always fondly referred to as "The Golden Boy."

Sculptured by Charles Gardet and cast in Paris, the Boy was fashioned to complete architect Simon's beautiful design for the Manitoba Legislative Building, one of the finest in North America; but it was many a long day ere that took place. Before he ever glistened so enchantingly in the rays of a prairie sunset, this bronze figure, now clad in pure gold, had many adventures. At the outset the foundry was wrecked by German bombs; the Boy alone emerged unharmed.

Given the final touches he was stored in a freight ship, the first move on his way to New York. From there he would finish his journey by rail to Winnipeg. Lying snug in the hold he rested in his straw wrappings, making ready to start his race high up on the Dome. But when World War I was declared, at the last moment the freight ship was commandeered by the French Government to take on an emergency cargo of war supplies. The 5 ton statue remained in the ship as ballast. Continuing its war service, the vessel transported American troops.

Apparently forgotten, all during World War I the Boy in the hold voyaged back and forth, through submarine infested waters in the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and in the English Channel. Not for several years did he disembark, as originally planned, at a pier in New York Harbour.

Finally, completing his journeyings on a flat car (of all things), the Golden Boy arrived in Winnipeg in August 1919, with plenty of time to relax; actually it was still several months later before he was hoisted to his perch 240 feet above ground level and symbolically placed, his gaze forever fixed toward the untold wealth of the northland.

Nearing 40 years of age, this Eternal Youth in his shining suit of 23 karat gold, perched on the Dome of the Manitoba Legislative Building, today looks younger than ever. Through the passing years, his added brilliance promising to become (if possible) still more radiant.

Page revised: 14 June 2009

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