There seems to be a lot of controversy about the presence of statues in our communities, and it’s not just about the Civil War monuments in the US. Cornwallis is having his problems in Halifax at the moment. But in our tiny community of Almonte there are a few monuments that aren’t going anywhere any time soon. They reflect the values and sentiments of the time they were set up in the town but so far they haven’t been controversial or divisive.
First we have our war memorial which was sculpted in the early 1920s by Dr. Robert Tait-McKenzie at the behest of the Alexander Rosamond family. Mr. Rosamond – Almonte’s primary Edwardian businessman – enlisted in the Army in World War I and was killed at the Battle of Courcelette in 1916. The statue bears a startling resemblance to Lt. Alex – so much so that it shocked his widow.
This one has 94 years of Almonte history behind it and certainly reflects the values of Remembrance, Courage, Sacrifice and Sorrow that marked the thought in town right after the War. It’s not the friendliest or most approachable monument though. The stone benches are more designed to hold wreaths than people’s bottoms.
A little more whimsical Dr. Tait-McKenzie sculpture. This one uses an old millstone with a bas-relief of his parents in the center. The bench is on the opposite side and gives a peaceful and tranquil view of the river above the falls. This one is from the 1930s and reflects Almonte’s industrial history, traditional side and family heritage. Totally non-controversial.
And here’s my favorite – a masterpiece by by Kansas sculptors Elden and Kim Tefft, it is a duplicate of the one in front of the University of Kansas fieldhouse. James Naismith, the inventor of Basketball, came from Almonte so it’s only fitting that he sits right downtown amid all the historic buildings. This one is fun, informal and welcoming – certainly the way we’d want to look at life in Almonte today.
Just a brief look at some ways that sculpture enhances rather than complicates our lives.