Memory of Montreal’s wayward whale kept alive with public art piece

Click to play video: 'Keeping memory of Montreal’s wayward whale alive with public art piece' Keeping memory of Montreal’s wayward whale alive with public art piece
A new statue has gone up in an east end park to pay homage to the humpback whale that, for a few brief days this spring, lit up Montrealers’ hearts. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Oct 5, 2020

The city of Montreal is paying homage to its rare 2020 visitor with a new public art installation.

A new monument has been erected in memory of Montreal’s now-famous humpback whale.

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The statue called Cetacean, which measures five metres by three metres, stands by the water’s edge in the grassy sections of promenade Bellerive Park in Montreal’s east end.

The wooden structure is part of a joint venture between the city of Montreal and the local artists.

“They’re quite fascinating animals but behind that, there are a lot of things we can learn from them,” said artist Geraldine Laurendeau.

“Helping them is helping us. ”

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The project’s lead artist, Laurendeau says she hopes her piece will help immortalize the memory of the wayward whale.

She also wants her piece to extend further, bringing people closer to nature.

“I’m not trying to bringing awareness about whales. I don’t expect people to go research them and do stuff like that, but they will ask questions,” Laurendeau said.

“Questions like, What is it? Why is it there?”

In making people ponder those ideas, she hopes to spark emotion and have people connect with her art on a grander scale.

“People have an imagination and so people look at it and get inspired by it,” Laurendeau said.

Click to play video: 'Montreal humpback whale sparks awe and concerns' Montreal humpback whale sparks awe and concerns
Montreal humpback whale sparks awe and concerns – Jun 3, 2020
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The humpback whale was first seen outside of the Old Port near the La Ronde amusement park in late May.

“This animal was a gift of spring 2020,” said Robert Michaud, director of Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals.

The Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network said it was the first time a humpback whale had been spotted in Montreal.

At the time, the organization said that it was unclear why it was there but that it could be that it was following prey, was possibly disoriented, or was perhaps just a young whale exploring new territory.

Having artistic displays of the rare event is great for the preservation of the species, according to Michaud,

“If artists are telling the whale’s stories, alongside stories we scientists say, we get more exposure,” Michaud said.

“I think it will help us as people understand how and why we share this environment with these magical animals.”

READ MORE: Montreal’s rare humpback whale sighting draws crowds and concern

Like the wayward whale, the $15,000 project is temporary.

The statue is scheduled to be in place until the end of October.

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