As the canvas wraps were pulled from the statuesque figures mounted on marble plinths on Saturday, the sun glinted gold on the bronzed faces of the three men whose triumph laid the foundation for the Timmins we know today.
Benny Hollinger, Sandy McIntyre and John “Jack” Wilson are three names that every Timmins resident knows, they are genesis, and finally, 100 years after their discoveries, they stand large as life in front of the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre.
“This is a very, very important event when you think about 100 years of Timmins and the next 100 years of Timmins,” said city Mayor Tom Laughren. “Back in 1908, when these gentlemen came here, what was here in Timmins?”
The group of onlookers, comprised of interested residents and members of the Wilson and McIntyre (Oliphant) families, took a moment to ponder the mayor’s question.
“I have pictures in my office of this city in the 1920s and ’30s,” he said. “There is a school, churches, houses and roads, there were modes of transportation, when you think of these men coming down the rivers, backpacking and overcoming obstacles, pushing forward to get to the Porcupine.”
The task was immense, one that was not for the faint of heart.
“Even when Jack Wilson made his find at the Dome, you have to think about the fact that he had to travel back to try and receive the dollars needed to put money back into that find,” Laughren said. “What these men overcame to succeed was immense.”
It was this perseverance and drive in the face of impossibility that resulted in the coming together of peoples that would not be possible in any other clime, or under any other set of circumstances.
“It is an honour to have these lovely gentlemen added to my new front yard,” said museum curator Karen Bachmann. “If it wasn’t for these three gentlemen that now stand next to me, I certainly know that my family wouldn’t be here and many of our families wouldn’t be here, so I feel that we owe a debt of gratitude to these three prospectors who have helped us develop this community.
“It is due to these three men that we are now here, celebrating 100 years of this great city.”
Upon each burnished figure, sculptor Tyler Fauvelle hid a secret tribute to the city they built and the city they now, once again call home.
“I’ve hidden a heart of gold on each of the statues,” he said. “One is very obvious, but the other two might be a little harder to find, I did it as a tribute to the city these men founded, and the spirit in which the people here continue to move forward.”
Each of the three prospectors carry the tools of the trade. Hollinger carries a pick axe, McIntyre hefts another and Wilson clasps a rock hammer while holding a fist-sized chunk of gold.
“It isn’t very often that people come together to celebrate everyday, hardworking people,” said Fauvelle. “Usually we celebrate great generals or political figures, so it is great to come here and see everyday men who died with nothing celebrated for their accomplishments, it is really quite incredible.”
The Lively, Ontario-based sculptor laboured tirelessly on the three life-sized renditions, choosing to have them cast in Toronto, to keep the spirit close to home.
“These men will be immortalized for thousands and thousands of years,” said Fauvelle. “As their life in bronze continues , the city will grow around them and you never know where these men will end up in 100 or 200 years.”
“Hopefully, more men will join them and take a well deserved place at their sides.”
Source: Kyle Gennings, The Daily Press (Timmins)