The Haldimand Press- By Jillian Zynomirski
DUNNVILLE—The story of Dunnville’s Centennial Fountain is coming full circle. Thanks to the grade 3 and 4 class at Dunnville Christian School (DCS), Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) recently learned the history of the fountain and learned who sculpted the panels on the fountain’s columns.
The fountain was installed in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday and its restoration will take place in 2017, 50 years later, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
“We knew the columns were something special that should be preserved but we didn’t
know the true significance of the art, the artist or full history of the fountain until this past spring,” said DHS President Debbie Thomas. “The children’s research was very thoroughly done. History of friezes, the importance to Dunnville’s history, the artist Dr. Elizabeth Holbrook and how it was funded in 1967.”
Shortly after learning about the fountain’s history, Thomas read an article on the restoration of Holbrook’s sculptures in Hamilton. The work was being done by her one and only protégé, Christian Corbet.
“(Holbrook) was Canada’s leading woman in portrait sculpture at the time. She was the crème de la crème in portrait sculptors in Canada,” Corbet told The Press, adding that she sculpted everyone from Einstein to Churchill to Roosevelt.
Holbrook passed away in 2009 at the age of 95.
“I’m the only person who she took under her wing,” he said.
Corbet has agreed to come to Dunnville for two weeks in mid-May to restore Holbrook’s original work on the fountain.
“It was probably the most monumental of them all,” said Corbet of Holbrook’s sculpture work on the Dunnville fountain.
Corbet will come to Dunnville in mid-May to restore the artwork to its original pristine condition.
“He was very excited to hear of (the Centennial Fountain) project and to be a part of it,” said Thomas.
Holbrook hopes to not only restore Holbrook’s work to its original pristine, but also hopes to educate and inform the community on Holbrook’s legacy and on the discipline of sculpture in Canada.
“We want to be able to reach out to everybody in the community,” said Corbet. “We believe a lot of people don’t know the history of this memorial from 1967. This year is Canada’s 150th so this marks the 50-year anniversary of the sculpture and fountain itself so it will be a good eye-opener.”
DHS has been wanting to clean up and restore the fountain for some time, initially only wanting to clean up the flowerbeds. After forming partnerships with DCS and Haldimand County, DHS is now working on their biggest project yet.
Project plans include restoring Holbrook’s sculpture work on the side of the fountain, which depict Dunnville’s history, and installing a living wall where the water flow once was. Though the fountain could be restored, it would be costly and prohibitive.
DHS also hopes to install lighting, restore the pollinator garden in front of Muddy (located in the same park), install memorial benches and have two storyboards, one telling the story of the fountain’s past and one for the dedication.
Red and white tulips have already been planted at the base of the fountain by DCS students.
The project budget is $29,620 and Haldimand County’s Community Partnership Program will contribute 35 per cent, or $10,367. DHS also applied for federal funding through Canada 150 but are still waiting to hear back.
Students at DCS have already raised over $1,000 on their own. DHS is also fundraising.
The project will be complete next year and the rededication is planned for Sept. 23.
Contingent on funding, DHS hopes to continue the project into phase and make the bridge across Thompson Creek accessible and install a pathway that links Centennial and Lions Park.