Douglas Coupland, Monument to the War of 1812
Canadian writer Douglas Coupland has a bit of a footprint on Toronto's fast-developing waterfront. Coupland designed the Canoe Landing Park, lacing it heavily with themes of Terry Fox. More germanely to this photo, at Bathurst and Lake Shore Coupland's styrofoam-and-resin monument to an episode from the War of 1812 stands. As CBC noted in 2008, Coupland had something particular in mind for this location just steps away from Fort York.
"I've grown up and a lot of people have grown up thinking 'Oh, Americans lost that one didn't they?"' Coupland said Monday after unveiling the Monument to the War of 1812 outside a condominium near Fort York in Toronto.
"But once I began getting involved in the project and doing research, I began noticing that the Americans are now starting to change history and they're saying, 'Well actually we won that,' or, 'Actually, we didn't lose' or whatever.
"So it's a war monument but it's also an incitement for people to remember what's going on in the present as well as the past."
Commissioned by condo developer Malibu Investments Inc. and approved by the City of Toronto, the four-metre-high sculpture is of two soldiers — one standing and one fallen.
The standing soldier is painted gold and depicts a member of the 1813 Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The other is painted silver and depicts an American soldier from the 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
The monument is meant to be a scene from April 27, 1813, when U.S. troops overran Fort York, burned it and then left.
"I wanted to create something that was just a quick haiku moment for people driving by or walking by to think about the War of 1812," said Coupland, whose bestselling novels include Generation X, Life After God and JPod.
I like the monument, but it has been criticized by others. For instance, Diogenes Borealis simultaneously condemns the statue for not taking the sacrifices of the soldiers who lost their lives defending Canada from the United States in the War of 1812 seriously and for unnecessarily poking the United States. More interestingly, perhaps, NOW Toronto's Debbie O'Rourke criticized the statue for not taking the contributions of First Nations into account.