With various public art projects being installed throughout the city, particularly at the waterfront, Vesa Peltonen felt something was missing.
He thought the city needed an art project that honoured the city’s history.
“Not just a sculpture that is aesthetically pleasing, but something that has something meaningful because Thunder Bay has a great rich history of aviation and Can-Car is one of the big focal points,” he said.
Peltonen has come up with a design for a sculpture that would have the silhouettes of three Hawker Hurricanes flying out in different directions, like a fountain. They would be attached to stainless steel posts that would look the planes’ smoke streams.
“It’s finally time they, meaning the city of Thunder Bay, had a memorial for all those men and women workers that worked so hard to help the war effort build so many planes,” he said.
The Canadian Car and Foundry plant, now Bombardier, built more than 1,400 Hawker Hurricanes from 1936 to 1944, led by chief engineer Elsie MacGill.
“A lot of local people don’t really understand that Can-Car was such an amazing plant and it was headed by a woman engineer,” Peltonen said.
“(The Hawker) is the symbol for what we’re hoping to build at the airport site within the next year,” he added.
The sculpture would be about 18 feet high and 16 feet wide and would be lit up at night, said Peltonen.
The project is still in the design stage and not all of the funding is in place yet.
Thunder Bay International Airport Authority CEO Scott McFadden said he likes the concept of the project as it’s more of a tribute than just a model or replica airplane on a post.
McFadden said he recommended Peltonen looks for community support for the project and if that support exists then the airport will definitely be wishing to participate.
“I want to make sure that those people who are in our community and much closer to it than I am, that they’re pleased with the concept,” he said.
If that support does come through for the Hawker project, it would be placed at the airport near the Canadian Forces memorial.
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