• At dawn, his first morning at home

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  • Home at last

    The artist and The General:  Moments after the installation, Danek Mozdzenski enjoys some quality time with his labour of love.

    The artist and The General: Moments after the installation, Danek Mozdzenski enjoys some quality time with his labour of love.

    Accompanied by the skirl of a piper and a crowd of more than a thousand cheering people, mainly students hooting and clanging bells, the striking bronze sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock completed its journey today, and was delivered to his perch in front of Brock University’s Schmon Tower.

    At 11 am, the truck that spent the past week carrying The General across the continent from a foundry in Oregon, backed up to the site where a crane was waiting to lift the statue and place it on a nearby plinth.

    Two hours later, under the watchful eye of artist Danek Mozdzenski, the installation crew completed their final touches, and The General began a new chapter.

    As the construction barricades were pulled back, an eager crowd — ranging from university students and area residents, to University President Jack Lightstone and Board of Trustees Chair John Suk — moved in to touch the highly detailed artwork and savour the realization of a dream more than two years in the making.

    His work completed and installed to the delight on onlookers, the artist himself stood back and beamed.

    One conspicuous absentee from the happy day was David S. Howes, the longtime Brock trustee and heritage aficionado whose generous donation paid for the entire project. Howes passed away on Jan. 12, exactly nine weeks before the sculpture was installed.

    A formal ceremony will be held in May to celebrate the life of Howes, and dedicate the sculpture to his lasting memory.

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  • Be at today’s party

    00 welcome home poster 1Great to get back this morning and see these posters up in the corridors.

    The weather person says today will be a mild 9 degrees when The General pulls up to the front door of the University that bears his name.

    The celebration is set for 11 am.

    Come and be part of a milestone day.

  • The General has landed

    He’s home.

    Late Sunday afternoon, a truck pulled into St. Catharines bearing the double-life-sized bronze sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock.

    The General — all 1.5 metric tons of him — is getting ready for a special welcome ceremony Monday morning on the University’s campus.

    The sculpture is to be brought to the front of the Schmon Tower at 11 am, when it will be placed in its new permanent position in Sir Isaac Brock Plaza.

    University students, faculty and staff, as well as residents of Niagara, are invited to attend the celebration — and to wear something red if possible.

     

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  • Day 6: Coming home

    The General was back on the road at sunrise to begin a day of weaving through the web of Michigan highways and making his way to a border crossing into Canada.

    Sunday morning traffic is light and the skies are cool but clear and sunny. Great driving conditions.

    The General will be home in plenty of time for his welcoming celebration in front of the Schmon Tower at 11 o’clock tomorrow (Monday) morning.

     

  • Dodging those pesky overpasses

    Detour: The General takes Route 24 in rural Ohio, which is free of low overpasses.

    Detour: The General takes Route 24 in rural Ohio, which is free of low overpasses.

    DEFIANCE, Ohio — Rather than take a direct route toward a Canada-US border crossing, The General has been getting off the big US highways to check out towns like Napoleon, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and this pleasant but bullishly named burgh.

    The main reason is a lack of space under some of the overpasses on Michigan’s Interstate routes. The bronze sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock, as strapped to a flatbed trailer, reaches a total of 14 feet 2 inches from the ground. That’s too tall to get under some older highway spans. Generally speaking (no pun intended), anything over 13 feet 6 inches tall starts getting into tricky territory.

    So The General’s chauffeur, Ken Henry, has been taking his transport truck up and down a host of secondary roads in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan that do not have any dangerously low overheads. It makes for quite the zig-zag route, and makes the journey take longer, but at least The General will reach his destination intact.

    Ken, an even-keeled guy who lives near Los Angeles when he’s not roaming North America, is a veteran driver. He logs 100,000 miles a year and has hauled loads through all 48 of the lower states, plus nine provinces.

    But the former US Navy engineer admits this trip has had its challenges, and not just the extra height. Taking a statue thousands of kilometres on an open trailer isn’t easy to begin with; the irregular shape and protruding arms, head etc make it difficult to wrap, strap and tarp in a way that keeps out the wind and weathers the elements.

    Fortunately the elements haven’t been a problem, as The General has enjoyed an almost totally dry trip across the continent. But as we know, the tarp was ripped to pieces by the wind (and as a result The General has a better view of those towns he’s visiting).

    Shortly after daybreak on Sunday, Ken will pull out of the Walmart parking lot in Napoleon and resume his game of cat-and-mouse with the pesky bridges. His patience will be worth it, because The General will reach Brock University in time for Monday’s 11 a.m. welcoming party.

    To everyone at the University: The General will have travelled more than 4,000 kilometres from Joseph, Oregon to come and be part of the Niagara community. Please wear something red on Monday to show him a Brock University welcome.

    The General's chauffeur Ken Henry drives 100,000 miles a year.

    The General’s chauffeur Ken Henry drives 100,000 miles a year.

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  • Day 5: into the Great Lakes basin

    Heading toward Davenport, Iowa this morning, then on to Chicago and points east.

    After that we’ll go through the upper reach of Indiana, but then have to do a bit of strategic routing through the network of Ohio/Michigan highways as we keep moving toward the Canadian border.

    As truckers will tell you, older highway infrastructure in the eastern USA means some of the overpasses are a bit low. The General on his truck is a bit high.

    It all means we can’t take certain highways. But  we’ll get there.

    The General is coming home.

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  • Rolling into Iowa, a General revealed

    The General drew more than a few glances from passing motorists after he returned to the I-80 without his black tarp.

    The General drew more than a few glances from passing motorists after he returned to the I-80 without his black tarp.

    DES MOINES, Iowa — With 1,500 kilometres to go, The General is so excited about getting to his namesake university that he took his tarp off Friday, just to get ready for the party.

    OK, in truth the flapping remnant of rubbery black material that covered him for the first half of his trek home was removed by concerned others. Two days of strong headwinds had ripped it apart pretty badly. He still has a light covering of shrink wrap, and in fact didn’t seem to mind losing the more cumbersome cloak.

    While the tarp didn’t make it out of Nebraska, the bronze sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock did. He kept travelling along Interstate 80, basking in unseasonably warm Midwest sunshine.

    The more revealed General drew curious glances from passing motorists — not every day you see a big bronze statue toodling along the highway on the back of a truck — and by nightfall Friday he was safely here in the capital of Iowa.

    HIs cross-continent marathon continues through the weekend, and at 11 o’clock on Monday morning he is to be the guest of honour at a welcome party as he rolls up to his new home in front of Brock U’s Schmon Tower. Important note to The Brock community: Wear red for what will be a memorable day in the University’s history.

    Since his Tuesday departure from the Oregon foundry where he was created, The General has knocked off 2,500 kilometres, three time zones and six states on his way to Niagara. The remaining journey will skirt the south side of Chicago, angle up a bit through Michigan, enter Canada on the Bluewater Bridge at Sarnia, then make for home.

    Meanwhile, an informal poll of The General’s entourage has found that the striking desert landforms of western Wyoming are deemed the most memorable part of the journey.

    What about neighbouring Nebraska, with its nondescript rural expanses that, viewed along the I-80 corridor, seem often to be not quite fish nor fowl, prairie nor wilderness, backwoods nor boonies?

    Awkward pause. Then someone said Nebraska is no doubt a nice place, there’s just nothing very interesting about it, compared to being home on the range in those those vast, hauntingly beautiful landscapes of the west.

    Trying to avoid looking mean-spirited, someone piped up that Nebraska is a great place to remove a tattered tarp.

    When it was pointed out, in admonishing fashion, that Nebraska was the only state where The General’s contingent had spent two or three hours driving in total darkness, a voice uncharitably mumbled something about that possibly being a blessing.

    Clearly they didn’t bother to read this item from the newspaper USA Today this week:  “A Lancaster County commissioner charged with theft said he’s occasionally forgetful but is no thief, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. (The 71-year-old man) is accused of stealing a tractor part from York Equipment last month.”

    To anyone who has seen how many farms there are in Nebraska, you have to know that being accused of taking someone’s tractor part is a heinous event.

    Nothing interesting in Nebraska, indeed.

  • Day 4: half way home

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    Think Nebraska and it’s likely one of the following come to mind (a) corn; (b) college football (they seem to perennially be in one bowl game or another); (c) the Springsteen album; or (d) that great Bruce Dern movie.

    But when The General thinks of it, based on today’s travels, it will be sunny skies, March temperatures in the 70s, long straight turnpike, and wind.

    That wind, mentioned in yesterday’s dispatches, is playing havoc with The General’s tarps, but at this moment we continue along the I-80 and keep an eye on the situation.

    Continue reading

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  • Love it or leave it

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    There’s something about American culture that Canadians — heck, people all over the world — find absolutely compelling.

    The USA is Canada’s biggest and most important ally, and not just because of how warm it is in Florida during the winter. While our respective politicians spar and posture with each other the way respective politicians are wont to do, it’s safe to say the vast majority of ordinary citizens on either side of the border are supportive or at least blissfully ambivalent toward each other.

    Americans smugly know they’re still the world’s ranking superpower, and we Canadians are smugly aware that we know the names of US cities, beer brands and pop culture figures, while our American friends have to stop and ask, “who’s your prime minister again?” Continue reading

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