Golden Boy (Manitoba)
The Golden Boy (official name Eternal Youth) is a statue perched facing North on the dome of the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and it is arguably Manitoba's best known symbol. it stands 5.25 metres (17.2 feet) tall from the toe to the top of the torch and 4.27 metres (14 feet) from head to toe. It weighs 1650 kg (3,640 lb), and the top of his torch is 77 metres (250 feet) above ground.
The statue was purchased by the Manitoba Government from France. It was sculpted by Georges Gardet of Paris in 1918, and cast in bronze by the Barbidienne Foundry. It was placed in a ship's hold for transport to Canada. However, the ship was commandeered for service in World War I, so the statue remained in the ship's hold for the remainder of the war travelling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. The statue finally landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was shipped by train to Winnipeg where it was placed atop the Legislative Building on November 21, 1919.
In the 1940s the bronze statue was painted gold, before its first gilding with twenty-four carat gold in 1951. In 1966, the government of the Province of Manitoba had an electric lamp installed into the torch of the statue. The light on its torch was first lit on December 31, 1966 to mark Canada's centennial.
In 2002, the statue needed repair due to rust on its iron supports and was lowered to the ground for a complete overhaul and re-gilding. The general contractor of the restoration project, Alpha Masonry, was tasked with the job of bringing the statue down. On February 9, 2002, the Golden Boy returned to the ground in a custom made aluminum cage after having been on top of the Manitoba Legislative Building for almost 83 years. The statue was prepared for the re-gilding by Bristol Aerospace with a custom manufactured paint from Germany. In August 2002, the statue was re-gilded with 23.75 k gold leaf in a climate-controlled enclosure in full view of the public.
The Golden Boy was returned to the Manitoba Legislative Building and re-installed on the dome on September 5, 2002, and rededicated by Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada, during her 2002 Golden Jubilee tour of Canada.
The new gilding is expected to last about 25 to 30 years. The company ISIS Canada installed new devices to monitor the stress and movement on the support shaft of the Golden Boy. In the course of a refurbishment, it was discovered the cable supplying power to the lamp also contributed to the erosion of the statue. The Golden Boy is now lit at night by floodlights.
The Golden Boy was modelled after the 16th century sculpture of the Roman messenger god of trade, profit and commerce, Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna. The sheaf of wheat in its left arm represents the fruits of labour while the torch in its right hand represents a call to youth to join his eternal pursuit of a more prosperous future. The statue faces in the direction of Manitoba's north, pointing towards the region to symbolize its importance as a provider of important natural resources and economic opportunity.
"Manitoba Golden Boy" is a traditional fiddle tune in the statue's honour. The chorus includes the following:
He’s the symbol of success
At the gateway to the west
And he’s our legendary pride and joy.
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