Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sculpture University of Toronto

July 2017 - Toronto ON

I started this post intending to show the sculptures we had found at the University of Toronto the other day using my new book Creating Memory A Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Toronto, but as I started reading more I decided to highlight a few at a time, starting with some of my favourites.

Canadian physician Norman Bethune (BSc Med 1916 University of Toronto) was a military surgeon, inventor and humanitarian who greatly advanced medical science and helped improve life in his adopted country of China. A sculpture celebrating his accomplishments graces the grounds of U of T’s Medical Sciences Building.

The piece was created by Toronto sculptor David Pellettier, the artist behind the ferry terminal statue of late NDP leader Jack Layton.

Bethune developed the first mobile blood bank service, which allowed for blood transfusions on battlefields. He also pioneered new surgical techniques and instruments, and was one of Canada’s earliest proponents of universal health care. He is revered in China for training its doctors and paramedics and ministering to wounded soldiers and sick villagers during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The life-size bronze sculpture features him wearing traditional Chinese clothing and a stethoscope.

Herman Northrop Frye CC FRSC (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century.

Frye gained international fame with his first book, Fearful Symmetry (1947), which led to the reinterpretation of the poetry of William Blake. His lasting reputation rests principally on the theory of literary criticism that he developed in Anatomy of Criticism (1957), one of the most important works of literary theory published in the twentieth century. Frye's contributions to cultural and social criticism spanned a long career during which he earned widespread recognition and received many honours.

Darren Byers and Fred Harrison, the two artists who created the sculpture in Elliot, Maine, were on hand for the unveiling. Standing, the statue would be around seven feet tall, and it weighs approximately 300 pounds.

The images in the book that Frye holds include an angel, the Leviathan, the divine creator, piano keys, his first wife Helen, a typewriter, and a train, which the artists say were selected to represent his life, his imagination, his passions and his accomplishments.

The stack of books that are placed beside him are representative of Frye’s work as well. One book includes a stained-glass recreation of a window Frye was fond of from St. Mary’s Church in Gairford, Gloucestershire. Another book is decorated with the same design that enclosed the first edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The third book shows a section of William Blake’s face looking upwards. Included in the stack of books is Frye’s class planner and his personal journal, placed under his left elbow.

The bronze statue that stands in front of the John M. Kelly library was created by the renowned Canadian sculptor William McElcheran. It was made of a plastic and fiberglass composite stained to resemble bronze and stood stood 142 centimeters high, 345 centimeters wide, and 35 centimeters deep. It was first unveiled on 6 June 1973, but a few years later it was sent to Italy to be bronzed.If you look at the statue from the street, you will see a crowd of people going about their business.

If you look at the side facing the library, you will also see a smaller, more contemplative group of people, some of whom you may recognize. McElcheran deliberately included the faces of many contemporary and ancient scholars and teachers. Some of these individuals, such as Einstein or Gandhi, are easy to make out.


From left to right, you can see the following figures:
James Joyce
Stephen Leacock
T. S. Eliot
Geoffrey Chaucer
Marshall McLuhan
Dante Alighieri
Germaine de Staël
George Bernard Shaw
George Sand
Leo Tolstoy
William Shakespeare
Sigmund Freud
Jean-Paul Sartre
Rene Descartes
Etienne Gilson
Søren Kierkegaard
Georg Hegel
Immanuel Kant
Eugène Ionescu
Jacques Maritain
St. Thomas Aquinas
Sir Isaac Newton
St. Theresa of Avila
St. Augustine
Albert Einsten
Eldridge Cleaver
John Henry Newman
Barbara Ward
Karl Marx
Charles Darwin
Mahatma Gandhi
Herman Kahn

Some of these scholars — for example, Marshall McLuhan and Etienne Gilson — have taught at St. Mike’s and even used the Kelly library.

In fact directly across the street from the Kelly Library is this coach house.
A former stable nestled behind a large house on 39A Queens Park Circle East and invisible from the main road, the Coach House was purchased on October 24, 1963 by John Kelly, former president of St. Michael’s College, and Claude T. Bissell, former president of the University of Toronto.

Together, the duo aimed to establish a Centre for Culture and Technology there with Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual, Marshall McLuhan, at the helm. The Centre became McLuhan’s office in the English Department at St. Michael’s College and provided space for McLuhan’s Monday Night Seminars.

The text on the plaque reads in English:
A pioneer of media studies, this University of Toronto professor became famous in the 1960s for his provocative theories about the impact of print and electronic media on human perception and behaviour. Teaching literary criticism led him to the idea that meaning was shaped by the technology of communication. His innovative work probed the influence of the printed word on society, the effects of combining print and images in advertising, and the world-wide impact of radio and television. The concepts of the ” global village” and “the medium is the message” made McLuhan one of the most celebrated scholars in the Western world.


  1. The Frye sculpture is my favourite of these.

  2. ...such a nice way to remember important people.

  3. A wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing the photos and the information.



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