In Layman’s Terms (A Non-Architect’s Point of View)

The Dominion Sculptor is not an elected position, it’s an appointment, but it may be the coolest job on Parliament Hill. I came across R. Eleanor Milne, Dominion Sculptor from 1962 to 1993 while doing some surfing on the Parliament of Canada website. What I found amazed me. She was the first female Dominion Sculptor. As of 2017, there had only been 5 in total which actually makes it that much more amazing.

So many articles bemoan the speed and ephemeral nature of our attention spans, it strikes me that sculpture is the exact opposite of the trend towards sound bites. Like other things in Parliament, for good or bad, what you say becomes a part of the permanent record of the country.

What R. Eleanor Milne had to say is permanently, physically, etched into Parliament. While some of what she had to say will no doubt become controversial, some will stand the test of time. The beauty and heart-pounding majesty of the sculptures will hopefully always make Canadians of all stripes pause and reflect on the way in which this country is maturing.

I read the Hansard and am sometimes dismayed by the emptiness of the speeches. Sometimes it is just the sound-bite-ness and sometimes it is the way in which we score political points at the cost of making good decisions. I contrast that with the time, energy and thought that goes into the decision to carve a part of our collective heritage. One evokes a timeless dedication to the future while honouring the past, the other does not.

I am a firm believer in the power of democracy. I realize it is not perfect and that its flaws are what make it vibrant and vulnerable, in need of constant vigilance by the elected members and the electing public. What I find … interesting… is that the person in Parliament that I find presents some of the best arguments for democracy is someone who is not elected: the Dominion Sculptor.


Photo credit: The Globe and Mail