After more than three years sitting in a dark garage, Marina the Mermaid has finally found her spot in the sun, overlooking Minnehaha Bay. The glinting metal sculpture, purchased by the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Committee as part of a project to create local attractions, was installed on private land above the bay after the town refused to have it on a public site.
The sculpture, created by artist Laval Bouchard of Massey, Ontario, was bought with donated funds with the expectation that it would be displayed somewhere in town. The municipality struggled with this, keeping her in storage for years as they tried to find solutions to two issues: potential risk to the public because of the sharp edges on the sculpture, and the estimated cost of $18,000 to mount Marina on a high structure to keep her out of reach. Ultimately, they decided against providing a municipally-owned site, to the disappointment of Beautification Committee volunteers. Mayor Kathleen Thorne Rochon noted that liability is always an issue with municipalities as they are often targets of lawsuits, and the town just couldn’t chance having someone hurt themselves.
That didn’t stop committee chair Gayle Primeau from finding a solution. Her husband Stuart Seville came up with the idea of mounting Marina at the bottom of a piece of private property above a retaining wall, out of reach of any would-be climbers and photo-takers, with two prominent No Trespassing signs on either side. Seville also took the time to burnish the scales on the 7-foot statue so they would sit flat and not pose a risk. The retaining wall is along the southern portion of the pathway winding around Minnehaha to the hill below the outdoor amphitheatre, so Marina can be viewed by all who walk the trail.
Seville got some help to heft the 200-pound steel sculpture onto the site and get it affixed to a base. On Friday, May 19, a group of volunteers, Dan Roveda, Chris Osbourne, Paul Paiement, Brad Rusk, Rolly Larabie and Seville affixed her to a large piece of granite donated and placed on the property by Labelle Brothers.
Marina the Mermaid was originally named Bobette by her creator Laval Bouchard. “Laval decided to sculpt a mermaid after a conversation with a friend who though that a mermaid would look great on a rock in the water at his cottage… [Laval] gave her hair to resemble the attitude of his favourite comedian Phyllis Diller,” posted Gayle Primeau, noting the wild coiffure. When the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Committee purchased her, she was renamed Marina. Now, she has found her rock.