Photo Credit: Madeleine de Trenqualye
453 W 12th Ave, Vancouver BC
Captain George Vancouver of the British Navy visited the West Coast of North America between 1792-94 and is the namesake of the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Vancouver was born in Norfolk, England in 1757 and is most well known for his survey of the west coast of North America. Vancouver departed England in 1791 and his voyage included South Africa, Australia, Tahiti and Hawaii before reaching North America in 1792. Vancouver died in 1798 at the age of 40. As an early European explorer on the West Coast and one of the first Europeans to visit what it now B.C., George Vancouver’s legacy is tied to the colonization of the region.
This statue by noted sculptor Charles Marega was commissioned by the Vancouver Canadian Club. It was unveiled in 1936 by Sir Percy Vincent, Lord Mayor of London, who visited Vancouver during Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The bronze figure standing atop the granite plinth is said to bear little resemblance to Captain George. The sculpture was copied from a maquette, which had been fashioned after a painting.
Charles Marega was born Carlo Marega in Gorizia, an Italian city that was then within the boundaries of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He lived in South Africa briefly before moving to Vancouver in 1909. Marega, whose work includes the lions of the Lions Gate Bridge, was a teacher at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, which later became Emily Carr University, until his death in 1939.
The Golden Jubilee celebrated fifty years since Vancouver was incorporated in 1886. Described as Vancouver’s “coming-out party” in a 1936 New Year’s Vancouver Sun article, the event took place through July and August of that year. Taking place during the Great Depression, the event was not without controversy. An article from July 9th described a conflict between the Mothers Council protesting evictions of relief families and then-mayor Gerry McGeer. The article reports that the delegation pointed to Golden Jubilee as evidence that more money was available for relief, while McGeer defended the grand celebrations on the basis of job-creation. Nonetheless, the event was popular, with ongoing celebrations all over the city. In addition to the George Vancouver statue, another remnant of the Golden Jubilee is the Lost Lagoon Fountain in Stanley Park.
Charles Marega (1871-1939), Parks Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/parks-canada/news/2017/12/charles_marega_1871-1939.html
George Vancouver, Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Vancouver
B.C. law professor says Canada needs to review colonial legacy of public monuments, Global News, https://globalnews.ca/news/7057986/mary-ellen-turpel-lafond-statues-colonial-history/
Vancouver Golden Jubilee Society Records, AuthentiCity, https://www.vancouverarchives.ca/2011/03/24/vancouver-golden-jubilee-society-records/