Tuesday, June 22, 2010


At the foot of Robson Street where it intersects with Beatty Street, on Terry Fox Plaza adjacent to BC Place, is one of the most phenomenally hideous monuments in Vancouver (or that I've seen anywhere, for that matter). In my opinion it demonstrates everything that was wrong with early 80s architecture and public art: pastel colours, incongrous building materials, classico-roman pretensions. According to www.vancouverhistory.ca, the design by Franklin Allen was chosen by a nine-person jury that included architect Arthur Erickson, and generated considerable negative public reaction upon its unveiling in 1984. I personally activate a mental detonator every time I pass by.

Having said that, the man the monument and the plaza are dedicated to, Terry Fox, is a Canadian national hero. His Marathon of Hope inspired a nation and raised millions of dollars for cancer research. Annual runs in his name continue to raise money every year (to date $500 million) in dozens of countries around the world. Terry's mother, Betty Fox, was one of the Olympic flag-bearers at the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies here in Vancouver, and she and Terry's father, Rolly, participated in the lighting of the torch at the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies, which also featured a video tribute to Terry himself. I cannot see the iconic image of Terry Fox running on his artificial leg without wiping instant tears from my eyes.

Post title from this song by Jack Johnson.

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