Visit the Citizens Hall of Fame in Assiniboine Park on Canada Day

by Peter Squire

For those not heading out to cottages or campgrounds for the Canada Day long weekend, there are lots of things to do in Winnipeg, with The Forks and Assiniboine Park being two major hubs of activity. You can check out Assiniboine Park during the day and then head over to The Forks to catch the headliner Canadian band Whitehorse and the incredible Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. To cap things off, there will be fireworks filling the air as darkness descends at both of these iconic Winnipeg landmarks.

An area of Assiniboine Park you may wish to check out, while taking in the festivities to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, is the Formal Garden area where the WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame site is located in the southeast corner just off Corydon Avenue.

The Park Boulevard and Corydon entrance is presently cordoned off due to site preparation for Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s new and exciting Canada Diversity Gardens project. However, there is parking in other nearby locations, and walkers, runners and cyclists will have no issue arriving at this hidden gem in the park.

While there, take a leisurely stroll by the 43 impressive bronze sculptures, which represent the likenesses of the inductees nominated and selected to be recipients of a bronze medallion commemorating them as outstanding citizens, who have contributed so much to Winnipeg’s quality of life. 

By looping back from the start of the installation of sculptures — former Mayor Stephen Juba was the first Citizens Hall of Fame inductee and was selected in 1986 — WinnipegREALTORS® has enabled visitors to view all the inductees while walking under a pleasant tree-lined canopy.

When driving along the oval roadway in the past, some people asked why the sculptures weren’t facing the road? The answer is that WinnipegREALTORS® intended that Winnipeggers and tourists get out of their cars and to get a close-up view of the fine artistic works by local sculptors, Leo Mol, Josef Randa, Eva Stubbs, Helen Granger-Young, Madeleine Vrignon, and Erin Senko.

When Harold Buchwald was inducted posthumously in 2011, his likeness, sculpted by Madeleine Vrignon, was prominently displayed right beside the podium where the induction ceremony took place. Former Mayor Sam Katz, who knew Harold Buchwald well, got up to say a few words to honour this great man who did so much for the arts in Winnipeg. At one point in his remarks, Katz looked over to Buchwald’s likeness and was amazed by the life-like image.  Vrignon’s artistic resemblance of Buchwald’s face clearly had an impact on the many attending the special ceremony.

In many instances, these outstanding citizens have been recognized well beyond the boundaries of our city. They often distinguish themselves nationally and internationally due to their incredible accomplishments made in their field of endeavour or pursuits of interest, such as 2010 inductee Terry Fox.

This brings us to why Canada Day is an appropriate and good time to take in these stellar citizens who have blessed our city. Many of the inductees have received the Order of Canada, which was established in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The highest of the investitures is Companion of the Order, which a number of Citizens Hall of Fame inductees have received. There have also been officers and members of the Order.

Citizens Hall of Fame historical inductees include Nellie McClung, Daniel McIntyre, John Wesely Dafoe, Edward Lancaster Drewry, Lionel Fitzgerald, William  Gomez Fonseca, Sir Augustus Nanton, Sir William Stephenson and Cora Hind. Their achievements were too early in the city’s history to receive an Order of Canada. Nevertheless, some of them received the Order of the British Empire (OBE), which was the highest honour a Canadian could receive prio

to the establishment of the Order of Canada.

With a QR Code app, you can link to the QR code affixed on each inductee’s pedestal to find out more information about them. More information is also available at the Citizens Hall of Fame website:

Happy Canada Day and take time reflect on all of those people that have truly made a significant contribution to our quality of life. Clearly, we are all privileged to live in a country where so many citizens look beyond their own self-interests to help others as well as their communities.

Over the  long-term, the new Assiniboine Park Conservatory will significantly add to local and visitor traffic for the sculptures in the park and, therefore, bring greater awareness to our generous corporate social responsibility program. While the Citizens Hall of Fame is no longer a drive-by destination, WinnipegREALTORS® encourage visitors  to view it as a pleasant walk through a veritable history of the many citizens who left their indelible mark on the city.