TRURO - The Bearcat is no more.
© Submitted photo
The Bearcat statue, which stood outside Arlington Place on Prince Street, is in such bad condition that it has been removed and won't be able to be put on display indoors.
The statue, made out of the remnants of a Dutch elm, stood for years in front of Arlington Place along Prince Street in Truro.
Because of renovations at the site, the statue was recently taken down with plans of relocating it.
"Over the last several years, it had to be repaired quite frequently," said Don Cameron, chair of the Truro Tree Committee, who started the project in 1999. "Before we took it down we knew it wasn't in great shape."
Ralph Bigney, of Debert, was the artist behind the Bearcat, which touted a hockey stick and ice skates as a reproduction of an early Truro Bearcats hockey team logo dating back to the 1920s. It was one of the latter statues to be created, which was in 2001.
The current plan was to relocate the statue to an indoor spot, possibly the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC) where the hockey team has home ice, but only if it was in a good enough condition. It wasn’t, however.
Gerry Hale, who has been assessing and repairing the statues for about four years, was on site Monday when the Bearcat was gently brought down.
“They had asked me if I thought it could withstand a move and that was hard to determine until it came down,” Hale said.
“They used a crane and took it down very gently, but you could tell it was weakened by the move. If it was standing in its same spot, it would stand strong.”
Hale said the Bearcat wasn’t damaged when it was taken down, but he didn’t think it could withstand a move to a new location.
“The base was rotting and the interior condition has been weakening over the years. There has been a lot of repairs done over the years.”
Having played defence for the Bearcats from 1977 to 1979, Cameron was saddened by the final decision, but not only because of his history.
"Those sculptures represent an important part of the community and are very popular with the residents and tourists,” he said.
"But the reality is that they are made out of wood and won't last forever. The statues hadn't lasted as long as we had hoped, but we knew this was coming soon."
When the project started 14 years ago, there were a total of 43 sculptures designed, with two never being put on display. At the start of this summer, 19 remained but one – that of Dr. Donald Lauchlin MacKinnon – was removed during the assessment process. With the Bearcat's state, that leaves 17 on display.
“With Dr. MacKinnon, that one was almost like a shell, so it was a safety factor. That wasn’t the case for the Bearcat,” Hale added.
Cameron said the program could continue if sponsors stepped forward to either help those that remain, or even have a new one created.
“Maybe someone will want to come forward to have one created of the Bearcats’ win of the Fred Page Cup last year. That would be nice to have that displayed either at the RECC or even downtown,” he added.