May 20th, 2024

Sculpture pays homage to city’s First World War contribution

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 9, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Artist Don Toney poses with a sculpture he crafted called "Legacy of Alberta" as it was unveiled Wednesday at the Lethbridge Exhibition.


A bronze sculpture paying homage to the last artillery gun to fire in the First World War by the Lethbridge Field Battery was unveiled at Exhibition Park on Wednesday.
Created by artist Don Toney, “Legacy of Alberta” took one and a half years to complete and weighs between 250-300 lbs.
The one/sixth lifesize piece depicts a detachment of six horses and their riders towing a carriage and 18-pound field gun of the type used by the 20th, 39th, 61st and 78th batteries of Lethbridge.
The work commemorates the contributions of Alberta veterans and Lethbridge’s role as an artillery city. It also pays tribute to the “first truly Alberta battery raised by Major John Stewart, father of artillery in Alberta and those who he recruited from Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge to form the 20th battery,” said a press release.
Glenn Miller, president of the Lethbridge United Services Institute, said at the unveiling the artwork also is “keeping alive the memory of the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served in and continue to serve Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace.”
A formal dedication ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 19 at the Exhibition with Belgium’s ambassador attending.
“Legacy of Alberta” will be permanently installed at the Exhibition where artillery units first trained before the First World War. The Exhibition grounds were also used as a staging area for battery units that went overseas in both the First and Second World Wars.
Toney said he’d never done a sculpture that was as demanding as “Legacy of Alberta.”
“I lost a lot of sleep,” he said before thanking the work Miller did to help the project come to fruition.
“His help was invaluable.”
References, photos and other information Miller provided helped Toney in the design of the sculpture.
The sculpture was cast in pieces and between 50 and 60 had to be assembled to create the finished work, he said.
“This unveiling and the challenges to reach the finish line was many years in the making from conception to delivery this morning,” said Miller.
“COVID restrictions unfortunately had some impact and there were challenges but we were able to meet those challenges to deliver the project,” added Miller in the Saddle Room of the Exhibition.
Wood for the base of the sculpture was recycled from the Exhibition, harvested before the construction of the new building, Miller said.
“That wood will be featured in many pieces of furniture within the Exhibition,” said Miller.
The sculptor Toney grew up on a cattle ranch in the foothills near Pincher Creek and he started as a bronze artist in 1979. He majored in fine arts at the University of Lethbridge for two years and after leaving in 1978 did a brief apprenticeship with a bronze sculptor before setting up his own foundry.

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